Functional Beverages

Eat Your Botox

Collagen, the protein found in the connective tissues between animal muscles, is seeping its way into the fitness and beauty industries as one of the healthy sources of protein for athletes and as supplements to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Companies are developing and marketing pills, powders, foods, and beverages claiming to improve your skin’s appearance and help refuel muscles after a workout. More and more women over thirty, athletes and body-builders are consuming collagen products in an attempt to change their appearance. But do these products really work?

Collagen for Skin

It makes sense on first look that ingesting collagen would make a difference in your skin’s appearance. As we get older, the collagen in our skin starts to break down, causing thinner skin, fine lines, and wrinkles. Companies like BioSil and Vital Proteins are manufacturing supplements to help create younger-looking skin and minimize the signs of aging. You can even find collagen in foods like fish, meat, red, dark green and orange vegetables, berries, soy, and citrus fruits. And many skincare companies are developing collagen-rich moisturizers.

There are several studies touting the benefits of collagen for skin health. This study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology showed that the collagen supplement, Verisol, improved skin elasticity and reduced eye wrinkles by 20 percent after eight weeks. The thought is that, when consumed, active collagen fragments are absorbed into your body and circulate through your bloodstream to your skin. But other studies and specialists argue that collagen is a protein, so when you ingest it, your digestive system breaks it up before it gets a chance to reach your skin — much like eating a steak.

The final verdict? It’s difficult to tell how much of the collagen you eat or ingest through a supplement will actually be absorbed through your body and reach your skin. But it can’t hurt to up our natural collagen intake through diet. And applying collagen topically to the skin can (temporarily, at least) reduce the appearance of those pesky lines. Using a moisturizer with sunblock every day and eating clean may still be the best ways to help skin look younger.

A Healthy Source of Protein

It’s no secret that good health and fitness rely on the body’s building block: protein. After a tough workout, your muscles need healthy sources of protein, plus other nutrients, for recovery and rebuilding. It makes sense, then, that supplementing with collagen, a type of protein, would be beneficial to a fitness buff and could aid in enhancing physical performance.

Collagen is a vital building block for bones, joints, and connective tissues (taking collagen can also help to improve bone and joint health). When we’re building muscle, we can’t overlook the importance of connective tissue in ensuring a strong and youthful body.

Adding Collagen to your Diet

Modern food processing focuses on lean, skinless, boneless meat — the parts of the animal which does not contain much collagen — so we’re actually not consuming collagen from most of our usual sources of protein when we choose these cuts. Found in bones and connective tissue, most of us can easily consume collagen in the form of natural, unskimmed bone broth. Consuming collagen can help reduce inflammation caused by running and lifting weights, promote joint health, reduce injury (especially to the ligaments and tendons), maintain nitrogen balance, and reduce body fat. Some say it also can benefit your gut’s biome, Turns out there is logic in drinking chicken broth when you are not feeling your best – it is likely high in collagen.

While there are many powders and pills that you can find at your local health food stores to help add collagen to your regiment, Ti Tonics are an easy way to sip your collagen. Adding this hip new beverage to your diet provides a non-dairy source of protein and collagen with a little hit from white tea and no added sugars. Or reap the benefits from a daily dose of bone broth!

What Am I Drinking: the Brave New World of Functional Beverages

Marketing beverages is not what it used to be. To stand out in a crowded field (and be recognized for the best consumer packaging), makers of sports drinks, energy drinks and even enhanced waters have had to differentiate themselves to a high degree, touting the unique benefits of their formulas to target your specific needs. And in some cases to address hydration needs you did not even know you had.

This Sunday when we look forward to the Super Bowl and its avalanche of advertising targeted at fans, we thought it would be fun to look at the difference between energy drinks and recovery drinks and the companies doing some of the best beverage marketing and best consumer packaging. Here’s a quick peek at what’s out there and what you need to know.

Energy Drinks

If you lived through the ‘90’s, when Red Bull ruled the energy drink landscape, you likely have distinct memories of ingesting this once bright red drink and of Red Bull’s catchy slogan: “Red Bull gives you wings.” Pumped up with caffeine (one 8.4 oz. can contains 80 mg of caffeine), the amino acid taurine, plus B-vitamins and sugar (one 8.4 oz. can contains 27 g sugar, sourced from sugar beets), Red Bull’s original Energy Drink and other first generation energy drinks relied on caffeine as their main stimulant to improve cognitive function and give the user and ‘energy’ boost.

As we discussed in an earlier post, ingredients that improve cognitive function have taken off as nootropics, or ingredients that are considered cognitive enhancers, enter the functional ingredient landscape. Nootropics helped alter the landscape for energy drinks.

Drinks and other beverages now are positioned to help us focus, raise our brain performance, boost energy, increase resiliency, and many other claims. While caffeine is still an important ingredient, new technology has helped companies precisely manage the dose while reducing the jittery effects some users experience of this natural stimulant.

LifeAID’s FocusAID Focus Blend includes caffeine from green tea and yerba mate, a gentler form of caffeine. It is also boosted with nootropics, including acetyl-l-carnitine which may treat health problems such as nerve pain and may improve blood sugar levels.

Recovery Drinks

In days of yore, sports drinks ruled the electrolyte-replacing landscape. Brands like Gatorade, which was developed in 1965 at the University of Florida, promised better performance by replacing 100% of lost carbohydrates (also known as sugar) and electrolytes (also known as minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and sodium). It worked and a new drink category was born. And the category flourished with a few big competitors, big time.

Fast-forward to 2017 and countless companies are now offering  everything from fitness waters and performance drinks to energy and mood improvement beverages. Boosted with supplements (or not) and sweetened with sugar (or not), it is up to the consumer to determine which formula is best for which targeted need or desired performance effect.

Sports drinks are usually consumed mid-activity, something a wide receiver could consume after a 50-yard run then immediately head back onto the field. Recovery drinks include electrolytes but are generally designed to be ingested post-physical activity. It is Sport Drink 2.0. Companies have refined the terminology somewhat to appeal not just to athletes but to anyone with an active lifestyle (i.e., you and me).

Both sports drinks and recovery drinks usually include electrolytes and minerals to accelerate muscle recovery. Some recovery drinks are further boosted with protein for muscle recovery and rebuilding and other ingredients that can support everything from cardiovascular health to joint health. Even the Gatorade brand has now grown and extended its offerings with specific products for use at different points in the exercise journey.

But HFactor’s Hydrogen Rich Water relies on little more than the hydrogen already present in water’s H2O. “It’s H2O plus H2,” says Nicole Pack, HFactor’s Chief Experience Officer. With no chemical processes, HFactor developed a new technology that infuses molecular hydrogen into water. Their innovative bottle, an aluminum package lined with BPA-free plastic, offers the equivalent of a hermetic seal, preventing the extra H2 from outgassing. It won a 2015 World Beverage Innovation Award for keeping optimal levels of H2 inside. Pack confirmed that hydrogen-rich water helps decrease inflammation, increase circulation and provide superhydration, but it must be consumed within 30 minutes of opening to achieve these benefits. After that, this water reverts back to H2O, a recovery beverage in its own right.

We do not know what is truly in the sideline bottles of the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots for Super Bowl 2017. But we suspect that each team – or even each subgroup of players within a team – receives a custom formula for peak performance before, during and after the big game. But for those of us watching the Super Bowl, however, we suggest drinking whatever goes best with the food on the table.