Ways to Stay Healthy During Winter; Tips, Collagen, & More

Winter is here; reads: dry skin, tired more often, colder, shorter days, less motivation to work out, comfort foods that seem to be more readily available, and it is only inevitable that we all get sick or burnt out at one point or another. However, instead of giving in to the excuses that are plagued by the winter months, I try my best to stay motivated to continue with my routine that I have during the fall. Plus, I try my hardest to steer clear of anything that is going to cause my body to become run down, get sick easier, and do this by opting for foods that are anti-inflammatory, supportive of my gut health, minimal in sugar, and reach for lean protein sources or plant based protein as well as increase my vegetable intake. I then stay away from processed foods, fake sugars, oils that can cause inflammation (such as canola oils, sunflower seed oils) packaged foods, refined carbs etc. I continue to exercise but may choose heated yoga or quick HIIT type of work outs that will give my body bursts of energy and then will focus on recovery, especially in the winter as the days are colder and the nights are shorter / darker which can take a toll on our bodies. Recovery, can be in the form of resting more, adding more vitamins or supplements into my diet, eating foods that will nourish and repair my muscles after a workout or if I am feeling sluggish instead of foods that are going to continue to drag me down. 

One of the things that I love has been the addition of collagen into my diet and the brand that I always gravitate towards for many years now is Vital Proteins. Ever since suffering from leaky gut, SIBO, IBS, and even high stress and anxiety levels, I have always been intrigued by collagen and the numerous health benefits it has the potential to offer to my body. It is known to help improve leaky gut, (You can read about my digestive health struggles here) help strengthen your nails, hair, improve your skin complexion, control your cortisol levels and so much more! 

Today, I want to share my go to Vital Proteins supplements & collagen, herbs, spices, recipes, or other grocery items that I always stock up on, and different tips that I follow as best as I can to stay healthy during the winter and the stressful holiday months. Extra stress during the holidays can wreck havoc on our bodies, our gut health, causing us to feel completely run down, sleep less, and just make the winter drag on forever! I've noticed that since adding the collagen into my routine, especially during times of stress and during the winter months, my gut health stays healthy which makes me feel good, sleep better, stress less, and continue to stick to my routines!   

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FIRST; what is collagen? 

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and helps give structure to our hair, skin, nails, bones, ligaments and tendons in our body. Thanks to collagen, we’re better able to move, bend and stretch. Collagen is also behind helping hair shine, skin glow and nails stay strong. 

As we age it begins to decrease as well as other lifestyle factors; such as eating a diet that is high in sugar or having high levels of stress.

Collagen is a protein made up of amino-acids: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine, all of which help our body's connective tissue, skin, hair, nails, as well as gut health stay as healthy as possible. 

Ever since adding collagen into my diet I have noticed major changes in my gut health, skin health and growth of my hair. I am also able to recover in a shorter amount of time from intense workouts (I feel less inflamed, less bloated, and not as sore!) and I feel that my intolerances to certain foods that I once had to stay away from have completely disappeared; for example having a history of leaky gut for many years it was imperative that I stay away from grains but now I am able to eat quinoa or lentils without a problem. I truly believe that the collagen has helped “seal up the holes” in my small intestines allowing me to add variety to my diet without suffering from extreme bloating, migraines, breakouts, intense cramping and more! I will say this didn’t happen over night and it isn’t a quick fix, but you will start to see differences within weeks. Remember, nothing is a quick fix, but your health is a journey! My hair grew faster and stronger and my complexion became brighter. The later changed happened within a few weeks and with my gut health it was within a few months. 

That isn’t to discourage you, but encourage you that it is possible to help with symptoms that you might be suffering from and plus it is so simple to add the collagen in anything; smoothies, homemade protein bars, water, coffee, matcha, oatmeal, salad dressings, the list goes on. There really isn’t anything you can’t put it in especially since it is tasteless and dissolves easily. 

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My go to Vital Proteins + why; the benefits as to how it can help keep you healthy and feeling GOOD. 

  1. Marine Collagen
    1. Support gut health (helped improve leaky gut symptoms, SIBO, improve digestion)
    2. Stronger nails 
    3. Brighter skin
    4. Support hair growth / stronger hair 
    5. 11 grams of collagen protein per serving, tasteless, dairy free, gluten free, paleo, whole30 
    6. Recipes: If you search "Vital Proteins" in my search box you will find that I have numerous recipes; smoothies, oatmeal bakes, a healthy sweet potato salad, turmeric latte, no bake protein bars/bites etc! I have a few linked below for you! 
  2. Spirulina Capsules
    1. Detoxifier; energizes you by removing toxins from your body 
    2. Take 2-4 pills every single morning, energy levels have increased
    3. Help improve skin (more clear, brighter complexion) 
  3. Bone Broth Collagen 
    1. Improve digestion, help with leaky gut symptoms, over coming food intolerances, helps with the growth of good probiotics 
    2. Joint health (helps restore cartilage)  / Helps us maintain strong bones  
    3. Boost immune system 
    4. Helps with the liver’s ability to remove toxins from the body and improves the body’s use of antioxidants rich source of gelatin
    5. Bone broth protects and seals the mucosal lining of the GI tract, which means it improves nutrient absorption and also helps keep particles from leaching out where they shouldn’t be.
  4. Collagen Beauty Water
      1. Enhance your energy. 
      2. Stronger hair, skin (glowing skin, clear complexion), nails. 
      3. FLAVORS:
        1. Lavender Lemon (my favorite!!)
        2. Strawberry Lemon 
        3. Cucumber Aloe 
        4. Melon Mint 

They also have Matcha Collagen, Collagen Creamer, Collagen Whey Protein and so many more! 

Ways to Stay Healthy....

  1. Eat / drink your vitamins: During the winter months, I opt for lean proteins, plant based options, minimal amounts of sugar, and fill my plate with more vegetables. I also keep my blood sugar levels in check by snacking when need to and always make sure that I have a breakfast full of healthy fats, protein and carbs. I use spices that are anti-inflammatory and fill my snacks, smoothies, coffees with the collagen to make sure that I am always sneaking it in somehow throughout the day. It is the easiest way! Plus, Vital Proteins has to go packets so you can always keep some with you on hand, making it easy to add it into any of your smoothies or lattes when you are out!  
    1. Healthy fats (avocados, coconut oils, nut/seed butters) 
    2. Plant based protein options (lentils, quinoa, beans) 
    3. Lean proteins 
    4. Whole grains 
    5. herbs / spices : turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, thyme, lemon balm, sage, elderberry, mint, echinacea 
    6. Nuts / seeds: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, hemp seeds
    7. Easy way to incorporate: morning smoothies, chia puddings, oatmeals, homemade energy bars, coffee, lattes. All you need to do is add 1-2 scoops daily or as many times as you would like! 
    8. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports the body’s immune system; Vitamin C is important for many body functions, including helping the body to absorb plant-based iron from foods and helping it to maintain strong teeth, cartilage and bones
    9. Nutrients are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables
      1. dark leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, winter squash, citrus fruits, fruits lower in sugar; such as blueberries, raspberries
  2. Sleep, Get plenty of rest! 
    1. To keep your immune system strong; lack of sleep hurts your ability to fight off any infections, being productive, harder to recover from intense workouts, easily stressed
    2. To help me sleep at night, I love adding collagen into: 
        1. Cup of warm bone broth or heating up the bone broth in warm water 
        2. Turmeric milks
        3. Your favorite nighttime tea 
        4. Other suggestions: Trying Taking or Doing: 
      1. Epsom salts at night 
      2. Phone not in bedroom 
      3. Try shutting off computer, tv, phone 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed (read, write, organize for the next day)
      4. Reading, Journaling, or Making a to-do list of your next day's tasks before bed to calm your mind. 
  3. Exercise & Recover / Refuel
    1. Help promotes sleep 
    2. Regular exercise can help keep your immune system strong, increases your blood flow, boosts your energy, clears your mental state 
    3. If you don’t give your body time to rest after strenuous exercise, you’re only upping the chance that you’ll get sick.
    4. Lack of sleep and overworked muscles cause your immune system to become weak, you to become fatigue, makes it harder for you to fall asleep, which in turn is a breeding ground for germs or viruses to take over! If I over exercise, I have a hard time sleeping, I feel more tired, my body is completely run down and I feel extremely burnt out. This is when I tend to get sick. Therefore, taking a rest is crucial! If I start to feel this way, I make sure that I am continually sticking to foods that will nourish my body, adding collagen into my diet where I see fit, and listening to what my body needs in terms of exercise. 
  4. Keep hydrated
    1. Lemon water + Apple cider vinegar + beauty water from Vital Proteins.  
      1. Brighten your skin, balance your PH levels, alkaline the body, help with digestion (keep things moving).
    2. Winter can suck the moisture from us and leave us feeling dry (skin, hair) 
    3. Hydration has a major effect on how your body functions as it’s important not only for cognitive health but also for helping to keep you regular (digestion). 
    4. I always carry around a water bottle with me or leave one in a few bags that I carry often so I always have one handy. 
    5. My goal has always been: Drink 16 oz in AM before breakfast, PM after lunch, and another after dinner or before dinner.  
  5. Connect / Social 
    1. Make time for friends! 
    2. Important for your mental health 
    3. Schedule in dates with significant other, friends, or family 
    4. Keeps stress levels low, allows you to have things to look forward to during the week, gives you a break from your routine, allows you to have human connection 
    5. Wellness isn't always eating well and working out, but connecting with others. 

Putting it all together: Examples of how to incorporate collagen into your diet/routine

Breakfast: 
Pre-breakfast: 
1. 16 oz of water with 1 lemon, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar & either 1 scoop Vital Proteins Beauty Water or Marine Collagen

2. Lattes/Coffee/Matcha: Add 1-2 scoops of Marine Collagen

4. BREAKFAST: Smoothies, oatmeals, chia puddings, yogurt bowls, any type of pancake batter: add 1-2 scoops of Marine Collage / Beauty Waters.
Golden Mylk Collagen Smoothie

Cacao Oatmeal Bake w/ a Cashew Cream spread

2. SNACKS: 

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

Maca Almond Butter Banana Bread

Cinnamon Peanut Protein Bites

3. LUNCH / DINNERS: 

 Quinoa Lentil Bites 

 Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese 

Collagen Sweet Potato Salad w/ a Mustard Dressing

4. DESSERT

Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Spicy Cinnamon Brownies (no bake)
 

Collagen is a beneficial addition to your routine and diet that will keep your gut healthy, your immune system strong, allowing you to feel your best and fight off the winter colds. It is an extremely easy to add into everything that you do each day and week by week you will start to see improve not only in your digestion, but your skin, hair, and overall energy. This is the one thing that I make sure I am taking every single day whether it be on the form of my energy bites or mixing it into smoothies or my coffee. Not only is it an extra boost of protein, but it helps protect my gut, keeping my digestion regular, and strong which then improves my overall mood, my mental state, my sleep and so much more. For me it always begins with the gut, if I can keep my gut healthy then everything else in my body seems to be working in harmony; my anxiety, stress, sleep, recovery from workouts, etc and I have the collagen to help thank for that!