19 May The Performance Parfait
You may think of calcium and Vitamin D when you think of bone health, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. Did you know your bones are made up of around 30% collagen? It’s true. We often think of collagen as a component of cartilage, tendons, and skin, but it’s also what gives bone resiliency. Just like cartilage, tendons, and skin, bones are considered connective tissue. Bones aren’t rigid sticks, they need to have a bit of “give” to withstand the demands we put on them. Think about running, landing from jumps, or taking a fall (intentional or otherwise); brittle bones don’t hold up well. Essentially, collagen forms a matrix and minerals fill that matrix to provide strength. We need bones that are strong and resilient.
Just like every other tissue in our bodies, bones are dynamic. That means they keep changing in response to the demands we put on them. This is why weight-bearing exercise is important for bone health. Bones that are put under greater demands become more dense, assuming they have the building blocks available for growth and remodeling. Bones that have been injured need extra support to heal. BONUS: Adding extra sources of Vitamin C and collagen have been shown to speed recovery.
So, what do bones need besides calcium and Vitamin D? As it turns out, a whole lot of things including adequate protein (including the amino acids required to make collagen), Vitamin K2, magnesium, phosphorus, and Vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production and remember, bone is made up of around 30% collagen.
Did you know kiwi is a great source of Vitamin C? One fruit provides 64 mg, which is more than 100% of the RDA for this essential nutrient. Pairing Vitamin C with collagen has been shown to increase collagen synthesis in athletes when taken an hour before training. Let’s look at how we can translate that to real life with ingredients that you may already have on-hand.
Our bodies can make collagen given the right building materials that include the amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline.
WARNING:It’s about to get really geeky.
We used to think that proteins, including collagen, were broken down amino acids during digestion. As it turns out, some collagen peptides (short chains of amino acids) are actually absorbed intact. The current theory is that these circulating peptides send a signal that existing collagen is being destroyed. This false message drives the body to produce more collagen.
Here’s an easy way to think of it:
It spring time and you have your thermostat set at 72 degrees. If I take a space heater and set it under your thermostat, it will falsely think that it’s really hot and it needs to crank up the air conditioning.
We can benefit from eating more sources of collagen, including gelatin, head cheese, organ meats, skin (chicken, fish, pork), bone broth, tendons, and cartilage. If these traditional sources aren’t part of your regular diet, you may consider adding collagen peptides to foods or beverages you already enjoy.
Enter, Le Parfait.
Did you know “parfait” means “perfection” in French? It’s true. Here’s how I created perfection that includes calcium, phosphorus, bioavailable protein, and Vitamin C in one tasty, portable, EASY recipe.
- Plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt
- Collagen peptides (optional)
- Honey (optional)
- Stir a scoop of collagen peptides into ~1 cup, plain Greek yogurt
- I added a bit of honey to the yogurt. This can be omitted or add honey to taste.
- Peel a ripe kiwi and cut into pieces.
- In 8oz mason jars, layer your favorite granola, the yogurt mixture, and kiwi.
- These can be taken on the go or eaten immediately.
There you go! An easy, delicious way to support your bone health! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter if you would like more information on ways I help my athletes, dancers, and their support staffs (that’s you, Mom!) fuel performance in easy, real-life ways.