NOURISH: Week Three
Week Three: Proteins To Heal + Grow
Hey mama, welcome to week 3! This week’s foundational nutrition strategy is the inclusion of rich protein sources at most meals.
Protein is essential to all tissue remodelling — the rebuilding of your skin, muscles and other soft tissues. Pretty important in postpartum, especially for those who experienced traumatic births or cesarean deliveries where wound healing is a consideration.
Past the early stages of postpartum, protein helps us to regenerate muscle tissue as we break it down from daily activity, purposeful exercises and through natural processes such as aging.
You’ve probably heard that you should “eat more protein” a million times. Maybe you’ve even got a fitness-fiend partner who’s always chugging amino acids before the gym. And who doesn’t have a tub of protein powder leftover from January 1 resolutions? (Here’s hoping last week’s smoothie recipes help you put that tub to good use, finally.)
As if we weren’t already inundated with protein propaganda, recently the nutrition world has had a love affair with collagen.
Is Collagen a Magic Bullet?
Maybe you’ve heard of it? If you subscribe to fitness magazines, read health blogs or follow nutrition-y types on Instagram, you have likely heard about the “magical” benefits of collagen.
Collagen is the protein which binds cells & tissues together while helping them maintain shape & integrity. Here’s the thing. When collagen, like any protein, is consumed, the body breaks it down into amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and shuttles the amino acids about the body as needed.
Eating more collagen doesn’t necessarily mean you have more collagen available in your body. Collagen doesn’t turn into collagen directly, as far as we know.
So collagen may be no different from any other amino acid/protein when ingested. It might be no different to take a dose of $50 collagen powder in your smoothie than it would be to eat some $2 tofu for lunch. No different, other than the price tag.
While no conclusive evidence exists for collagen supplements, or even for homemade “supplements” such as bone broth and healthy gelatin “gummies”, some evidence suggest improvement in skin elasticity & moisture, and reduced joint pain.
Plus, collagen is just another protein source. So while the jury is out, many mamas are choosing to add collagen to their routines “just in case” it helps.The best way to do that is to with homemade foods like chicken soup or stewed bone-in meats, if you eat meat.
That’s Protein With a “C”
While you don’t necessarily need to eat collagen, your body does need to make collagen in order to rebuild soft tissues. To do that, it requires you to eat protein.
Basically, you gotta eat muscle to make muscle. Well, you know, muscle or beans. Or hemp. Or eggs.
BUT. Humans require vitamin C to synthesize collagen from the protein you’ve eaten. Its a chemistry thing. Since humans can’t store vitamin C within the body, its a pretty freaking important nutrient to consider in your daily diet. Want to have muscles? You gotta get some vitamin C every. single. day.
So for this week we want you to think of these two friends going hand in hand: Protein + Vitamin C.
This way, you’ll get the protein you need AND be able to build collagen more efficiently to help repair your tissues, no matter what stage of postpartum you’re at.
No $50 collagen powder required. Unless, you know, that’s your jam.
How To Do It
Consider the following protein source when planning next week’s meals:
Whole grains, especially in combination with legumes (special mention: quinoa in particular is very rich in amino acids)
Whole fat dairy
Legumes, especially in combination with grains & vegetables
Tofu, tempeh, and other soy sources
Then consider how to incorporate these great vitamin C sources into your days in various ways:
Bell peppers, especially brightly coloured red/yellow peppers
Cruciferous veggies, including broccoli, cabbage, + Brussels sprouts
Brightly coloured winter squash
Citrus fruits, especially oranges
Tropical fruits, including guava, papaya, kiwi, lychee, pineapple
Now grab this week’s protein-rich recipes! Then head to your Weekly Meal + Prep Planner and start getting more muscle-building protein and vitamin C into your life, mama!