095: Why Collagen Is Crucial To Maintaining Your Health As You Age w/ Lillian Zhao of Further Foods

095: Why Collagen Is Crucial To Maintaining Your Health As You Age w/ Lillian Zhao of Further Foods

by Dr. Anna Cabeca July 21, 2019

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We’ve always been told how important calcium is for our bone health, but did you know that collagen is perhaps even more important? Collagen makes up over 90% of our bones, joints, and skin and is responsible for giving your body structure and strength. Today’s guest, Lillian Zhao, is the founder of Further Foods, a company designed to make natural health easier and more accessible.

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Surrounded by disease, Lillian knew there had to be another option to traditional medicine. Further Foods was developed as a platform for food-based solutions to health problems when nothing else was there. It’s a women-founded and women-led business, one of the only supplement businesses run exclusively by and for women.

Collagen is actually incredibly vital for our bodies, especially as we age. Our bodies start to lose collagen as we enter our thirties, so we should be supplementing it from a pretty early age. Not only is collagen important for our bone and skin health, collagen also plays a role in our pelvic and digestive health, as well.

You can get collagen from cows and fish and in this episode, Lillian explains how they use these animals to create their natural supplements. Collagen is also full of anti-aging properties and helps reduce wrinkles, especially on your face. There are other delicious and natural food sources with anti-aging properties, too!

Have you heard of the importance of collagen? Have you noticed your skin health decreasing as you get older? Do you take a collagen supplement? 

 

In This Episode:

  • Why collagen is so helpful for our bodies
  • How much collagen our bodies lose every year
  • What impact collagen has on our bones and pelvic floor as we age
  • Why you should supplement your diet with collagen
  • How collagen helps your digestive health
  • What natural sources you can get collagen from
  • What other anti-aging food sources there are
  • How you can vote with your dollar for the best products for you as a woman

 

Subscribe to Couch Talk w/ Dr. Anna Cabeca on Youtube

Quotes:

“Our bones are made out of a matrix. That matrix is 90% collagen and the calcium fills it in. So calcium keeps our bones strong, but when we run, or even walk, all that shock is being absorbed by the collagen inside our bones.” (6:52)

“Collagen is really unique because it’s almost a quarter glycine and you can’t get that anywhere else. Glycine is so important for so many different metabolic processes in our body. And it also helps with the sleep!” (13:03)

“What I think is really unique about our business is that we’ve kept it women-owned and women-run. We know that the majority of our customers are women. And if you think about it, there are almost no supplement companies out there that are women run. We think it’s so important because as women, we understand our needs the best. So we continue to design products for people like us.” (17:25)

 

Links:

Get 5% off your order in theFurther Foods Shop with discount code: DRANNA

Find Lillian Zhao onTwitter |Medium 

Find Further Foods Online

Follow Further Foods Facebook |Instagram |Twitter |Pinterest 

Join the KetoGreen Community on Facebook

Buy The Hormone Fix

  

Transcript:


Dr. Anna:
Welcome back everyone to Couch Talk. It's great to have you here today with me and my guest, Lillian Zhao who is here from a company called Further Food. She has one of the products that I really like called Collagen, she has a collagen-based product, a peptide, collagen peptide product that I really like. So we'll be talking about collagen today as an anti-aging product and why it's important for our structure, our overall health and certainly as an anti-aging ingredient.

Dr. Anna:
So I know you'll enjoy this episode and I'm excited to share with you the wisdom of Lillian Zhao, who is just really a fascinating woman. She is a former venture capitalist turned entrepreneur. She started Further Food as a food as medicine platform after her father was diagnosed with type two diabetes, her mother with a thyroid condition and her best friend with IBS. There was no comprehensive resource for food-based health advice when she created this company.

Dr. Anna:
So she created a platform for functional health doctors completely education-based so that they could share their solutions and therefore, creating this platform for people to go and find food-based solutions as well as be inspired by functional practitioners. So Lillian is also a long-time advocate of public health and socially responsible business. She earned a master's degree at Harvard University in corporate social responsibility and public policy. She is also a certified yoga instructor and an expert in the latest holistic medicine trends. She's really passionate and mission-driven in her women's own company and is excited about moving this forward for so many other people around the world. So really excited to introduce her and introduce Collagen to my community. We haven't talked much about it, but you will learn in this episode why it's really important to think about and maybe even supplement with into your regular anti-aging program.

Dr. Anna:
Lillian, it's great to have you on to share your knowledge and your inspiration as well as your journey with our audience.

Lillian Zhao:
I'm delighted to be here.

Dr. Anna:
Well I have to tell our audience a little bit about how we met. We were both speaking over at Keto Con last year, so we were in Austin and we got the chance to talk to each other. Your booth was right next to our booth, had my daughters at my booth for Mighty Macca and [inaudible 00:02:49] and we kept slipping around the corner and grabbing your collagen cocktails, essentially, the collagen with the coffee in it. I've been a big fan of collagen.

Dr. Anna:
I tell you, I want my listeners to know too, way back in our Sexy Younger You Summit where we carried Sexy Younger You programs and our Sexy Younger You Summit, one of the big hallmarks was adding some collagen to our morning smoothie or our morning coffee. And that's just so important as we age. So I really want you to share with our listeners what you shared with me, just about your journey and how you've created this awesome, really authentic company and mission and chose to incorporate collagen into your business.


Lillian Zhao:
Yeah. Well I'm delighted to be here, thanks for having me and it was great to meet you in Austin. We were, you know, had our collagen stick pads and we were sampling it out there. I think we share a lot of similarities with how we came across our businesses. It really has been very personal. So I started the company four years ago after my father had gotten diagnosed with diabetes, my mother with hypothyroid. And then my best girlfriend was struggling with really bad IBS. I became really interested in this question of how can we use food to heal?

Lillian Zhao:
And I started doing research and realized there's not a lot, or there wasn't a holistic website like WebMD for holistic solutions to specific diseases. And it turns out i wasn't alone. My current partner's Allegra, her daughter has Crohn's, so she's been dealing with autoimmune disease her whole life. And my other partner Ashley also has IBS. So she's been trying to figure out how to heal her body by using food as well.

Lillian Zhao:
So we kind of all came to this with a desire to learn more about how to use foods in holistic solutions to prevent and heal disease. And Further Food really came from that desire. What we ended up doing is we said, "We want to start with building up a knowledge base." So we invited experts like yourself and people who we called Health Heroes to share their personal stories of how they used food to heal. And we created this database where now you can go to the website and search by specific diseases and get information. People are sharing their stories, sharing their recipes, and experts like yourself are sharing their knowledge.

Lillian Zhao:
So we started doing that. For two years, all we did was content. And our community started asking us for products. And we said, "Okay. We're going to go out there. We're going to do a big survey and we're going to do research and we're going to talk to our experts and figure out what should we make." That's where we came across collagen.

Lillian Zhao:
So collagen was actually our first product that we launched only two years ago. We decided to go with collagen because we looked at what were the chronic issues that our community were interested in. And it was weight loss, joint health, arthritis, osteoarthritis, skin health, gut health. And as we started doing the research, we started diving really deep in the clinical research, there's actually been 40, 50 years of research on collagen. Collagen's been around for a long time actually. It's gotten really hot lately, but it's been in research for a really long time. I mean, we started doing the research, our entire team was just blown away with how much research has been proving that collagen is really helpful for so many chronic issues.

Lillian Zhao:
I'm going to talk a little moment to explain why that is.

Dr. Anna:
Yeah, let's step back and just talk about what collagen is.

Lillian Zhao:
Yeah. So the reason why people find collagen so helpful is, we look at our bodies. We know our bodies are mainly made out of water. That's the most abundant molecule in our body. The second most abundant molecule in our body is actually collagen. You think about it, what's our biggest organ? It's our skin. And our skin is 70 percent collagen. And right beneath our skin is fascia, right? Fascia is what allows us to move and it also holds our body together. Fascia is 90 percent collagen. And then you keep going down, our bones are made out of a matrix. That matrix is 90 percent collagen and then calcium fills it in.

Lillian Zhao:
So calcium keeps our bones strong but when we run, or even walk, all that shock is being absorbed by collagen inside our bones. And then our joints, our joints are 90 percent collagen. Now what happens is, starting in our early twenties, our body loses its ability to produce collagen by one percent a year. So over time, that compounds. Over time, as our body gradually, continuously loses ability to produce collagen on the outside, that manifests as wrinkles and saggy skin. But on the inside, it's one of the root causes of arthritis and osteoarthritis and joint stiffness. When people fracture or break their bones, it also oftentimes the loss of collagen.

Dr. Anna:
Yeah, 100 percent. And we worry about just building bone nutrients but we need to look at the collagen co-factors as part of that.

Lillian Zhao:
If you want to build stronger bones, it's not just calcium. It's calcium and collagen. It's because collagen is so abundant in our bodies and we're losing it all the time that once you start supplementing it, people are like, "Oh my gosh, I feel better." And they feel it in all different parts of their body and they feel it at different times. But we notice a lot of people say they see their nails growing stronger, hair growing thicker. It takes four to five months but some people will start seeing it in their skin. People say their scars have gone away.

Lillian Zhao:
It takes time. Because what happens when you ingest collagen, it gets distributed all over your body. Some of the benefits you may experience faster than others, and some of it takes a little bit more time as your body is really processing all those amino acids.

Dr. Anna:
Yeah, I wonder, it's so important to understand. So collagen is a big factor of our structure. And especially working with women's health, we think about collagen around our lips, around our eyes, addressing loss of collagen affecting wrinkles. But like you said, on the inside, what's happening? And especially when it comes to pelvic floor. Pelvic floor, we have prolapse, we have incontinence, we have hemorrhoids and those issues that can, are really important that we focus on restoring the muscle and the collagen tissue as well.

Dr. Anna:
And so I want to really emphasize that because we forget about the pelvic floor being really connective tissue and collagen-based. Also, as an osteopathic physician, one of the things we learn is that connective tissue, right, that connective tissue runs throughout our body. So when one part is struggling, it's like having a hole in your tire. The whole tire is disrupted. So looking at collagen as, the connective tissue as a whole is really important, our structure and function as we get older, so we have, we stand up straight, we have strong bones, we have good posture, we're able to smile and laugh and have laugh lines versus frown lines. Those are really important.

Dr. Anna:
But the big point is we're growing older, it's osteoporosis, it's incontinence that are two major factors. And that's one of the reasons why I love adding or supplementing with collagen, certainly bone broth, an excellent source of getting that collagen in. But sometimes we need more than that.

Lillian Zhao:
And you can put collagen inside your bone broth, right?

Dr. Anna:
Make it super-duper, soup it up.

Lillian Zhao:
Yeah. It's interesting you mention bone broths. My mother, I'm Chinese, growing up my mom would make bone broth all the time. It was always in the house. She's actually a chemist by training. And she was really excited when we launched the collagen, and you'll notice collagen, it's collagen peptides, right?

Lillian Zhao:
So let's dive into this just for a minute, because it is a little bit different. It's wonderful to eat collagen naturally. Again, I'm Chinese so grew up, we ate chicken feet. There's a lot of collagen. But the peptides are a little bit different. What they are is, the peptides are [inaudible 00:10:51] amino acids. So as you guys know, protein is a really complex molecule and takes our body a really long time to digest it. And when we make collagen, we have a process of hydrolyzation. And basically, the long chain gets chopped up into really little pieces and that's important because it gets absorbed a lot easier. So when you take the collagen peptides, within four hours, 90 percent's already absorbed.

Lillian Zhao:
And my mother was really excited. She's like, "These are peptides. These are different. They can absorb a lot faster." So she's taking her bone broth and her collagen and she's putting the collagen inside the bone broth to improve collagen absorption.

Dr. Anna:
I love it. That's great. And then it's a good food source, right? So you're just boosting up your food source and ingesting it the way we need to with increasing those digestive enzymes to help us absorb it more when we take it as a food source.

Dr. Anna:
One thing I want to really make an important point too for our listeners and why I find adding, supplementing with collagen is extra beneficial is because again, with our connective tissue running throughout our bodies, so important for our structure and function as women, certainly too as men but our connective tissue is hormone-responsive. So this time period in the perimenopause, menopause with declining levels of progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, that affects the strength of our connective tissue, like you said, those web-like connections. So as much as we can do to continue to naturally support it through our nutrition, through our food sources, through our exercise regimens and our lifestyle choices, all of that combines to produce really good results.

Dr. Anna:
So it's just another building block to add on to your already healthy regimens, right?

Lillian Zhao:
Exactly. And what's really interesting about collagen, what makes it so special and so important to take, you're not going to be able to get anywhere else is it's really high in glycine and proline.

Dr. Anna:
So good for digestive health, right? Healing the digestive lining.

Lillian Zhao:
Exactly. So it helps digestive lining and then it also, when you're talking about the pelvic floor, restoring our muscles, the proline is really helpful in maintaining muscle mass as well. And collagen is really unique because it's almost a quarter glycine. You can't get that anywhere else. And glycine is so important for so many different metabolic processes in our bodies. And, it also helps with sleep. A lot of people will take collagen in the morning to help them stay full all day and they'll take it at night to help them sleep because the glycine also helps regulate our sleep. Lots of great stuff that you can only get, again, with collagen. It's really hard to get a glycine elsewhere.

Dr. Anna:
Let's talk about your sources of collagen too because I know my audience will want to know.

Lillian Zhao:
Yeah. Well, we are really proud that we're actually one of the only collagen brands out there that have grass-fed, pasture-raised documentation. So we're very specific in our sourcing. Our cows are grass-fed, pasture-raised in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. So that's our bovine source. And we actually have a marine source because we know a lot of people are pescatarian or they prefer to eat fish. Actually, a lot of our plant-based people will use marine as well, and that's coming from wild-caught Atlantic codfish. And we're really particular on where on the fish we're getting it from, because some sources are using the scales. But we're using the skin. And that's the purest source of collagen.

Lillian Zhao:
And in fact, for all the listeners out there, make sure you eat your fish skin because that's not only where all the collagen is, but it's where the really good Omegas are as well. So next time you get a salmon steak and it has crispy skin on top, if you lift it up and you see that white stuff, that's actually the collagen and that's where we're getting the collagen for our marine source.

Dr. Anna:
Very cool. So that leads us into a great discussion on, what are some great food sources for, like, what are some of your favorite anti-aging food sources that you recommend?

Lillian Zhao:
Oh my goodness, there's so many. So obviously the first one, we know scientifically that works is collagen. And taking one to two scoops a day every day over time really is building up [inaudible 00:15:08] of the skin, reducing wrinkles and strengthening arthritis.

Lillian Zhao:
The other great thing for anti-aging is using your blueberries, your acai. They have some of the highest antioxidants of any fruit, period. I start every morning making a blueberry, whatever greens I have a smoothie and getting the blueberry in every day is great. Avocados are great for you, for anti-aging. They've got really great fats, as I'm sure you know.

Lillian Zhao:
We also recommend turmeric. We think of turmeric as really good for inflammation but it's also really high in antioxidants and great for anti-aging as well.

Dr. Anna:
Excellent sources. One thing I wanted to bring up too with you is just kind of redefining, this is a little off-topic so we know we're going to get collagen. I highly recommend this brand of collagen from Further Food and go to FurtherFood.com to get information, look at the blogs, look at all the information that's there, the ingredients, etc., but I really do like their collagen. Number one, I've used it, I've used it in my coffee, I've used it in my smoothies and it just dissolves well, it tastes good. You have some flavors too, right?

Lillian Zhao:
We're thinking about doing potential flavors in the future but right now we kept it really pure, really simple. So both the bovine and the marine are unflavored. We actually just launched a gelatin too for people who want to make different gummies or jello. We've got our gelatin here and this is definitely keto as well. There's a lot of really great keto recipes that use gelatin in it.

Lillian Zhao:
Yeah, we kept it really pure and unflavored. I mean our mission, just going back to the company again real quick, because I think your audience will really appreciate that we are very mission-driven. We're really believers in food as medicine. We give back a portion of proceeds every year to nonprofits that focus on holistic health. This past year, we chose an organization that is actually doing holistic retreats for caregivers of cancer patients. So we have this whole mission and then we also, I think I was saying earlier, we started because I and Allegra, we had our personal experiences. What I think is really unique about our business is that we've kept it women-owned and women run.

Lillian Zhao:
We know the majority of our customers are women. And you think about it, there's almost no supplement companies out there that are women run. And we think it's so important because as women, we understand our needs the best, right? So we continue to keep trying to design products for people like us and people like your audience because we are your audience.

Dr. Anna:
Right.

Lillian Zhao:
You mentioned new products. We may do some flavored collagen in the future.

Dr. Anna:
I think we must have talked about it so that's why I had it in my head, like, is there vanilla? I know I've been adding that in. So yeah, that's great. I think it's pure, pure as it can be, it's the best. And then we can add whatever we want too. But the fact that it just dissolves really nice and it's easy to ingest and it's the peptides, so we're going to absorb it really well is key.

Dr. Anna:
But now share, Lillian, just about your redefining yourself, your life. You went from working in the industry to creating your own company, just how you went through redefining your life.

Lillian Zhao:
Yeah. We do that, right? I actually used to be an investor in a food and a natural organic [inaudible 00:18:43] and beverage space. I come to this with a really unusual background. I actually went to grad school at the Kennedy School of Government. So I was focused on public policy. But specifically, I was focused on socially responsible businesses. How do you do well and do good? So when i went into finance, I was focused on finding businesses that would do that, and that led me to the natural organics space. I believe that there's a tectonic shift in how we're thinking about eating, and it's wonderful that we're paying attention to where are the ingredients coming from, right? How are our plants and how are our meats grown?

Lillian Zhao:
I started off more on the finance side and it's always been my dream and goal to kind of have my own business that reflects my values of doing good and doing well. I've been incredibly fortunate to have amazing women to work with and who have supported our business. And I'm super excited for what the future holds.

Lillian Zhao:
I think if we just keep focused on our community and their needs, we're going to keep developing products that hopefully help a lot of people.

Dr. Anna:
And continuing the product with the information, quality source, that's what I like to bring to the awareness of my community, is just that there's the right way and there's the wrong way too. So then of course, choosing, voting with our dollar in a lot of ways, choosing what is the best for us. And for us as women, not to skimp on that. Because we tend to think, "Okay, we've got to take care of everyone else and we'll just do what's leftover." But that's not the case because as we heal, as we become healthy, as we've become more energetic, everyone else does too. So it actually works the opposite the way we typically function as women sometimes. So I really want to just emphasize that point and love what you said about how to do well and do good at the same time. Because that's key. Continue with your passion and what you've done with your company and bringing, rising other women up in it as well. That's huge, and bringing us along with you. So I want to thank you for that.

Lillian Zhao:
Oh thank you. We wouldn't be here without experts like yourself. Before we had even thought of this, right, our goal was always, we want to improve the knowledge out there and we want to feature experts like yourself in telling, "Well hey, there's other ways besides going to the pharmacy of healing yourself." And it's through experts like yourself sharing your knowledge that we are collectively improving our knowledge about holistic health. And so thank you so much.

Dr. Anna:
My pleasure. Well tell our listeners how we can get ahold of you and I know you have a discount for our community and a special offer there. So share with us how we can get ahold of you.

Lillian Zhao:
Like you said, our website is FurtherFood.com. And we're going to be partnering with Dr. Anna and having a code that will give you five percent off all the products on our site. You can find us at FurtherFood on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and you can contact me anytime, I'm Lillian and I'm at Lillian, L-I-L-L-I-A-N at FurtherFood.com.

Dr. Anna:
Thank you. So FurtherFood.com, it's a great resource and y'all, try their collagen and tag me and let me know how you like it. Yeah, I totally love it. Thank you so much.

Lillian Zhao:
Thank you.

Dr. Anna:
Wasn't that a great interview? I mean, it's really important, sometimes there's just a missing puzzle piece to our regimen that we just need to add in, we need to consider. Or maybe it's something, maybe we've tried collagen in the past but we need to try it again and see how that works for us. So that's an important thing to consider. So I was really thrilled with our guest, Lillian Zhao and I love her company Further Food. I've met them personally, I've used her collagen product and I really love it. So if you do decide to try it, please remember you have a discount code, use Dr Anna, D-R-A-N-N-A and that will give you five percent off. So there'll be links in the show notes as well. And tag me, let me know how you like it.

Dr. Anna:
So I look forward to hearing your feedback as always and I look forward to seeing you on our next episode. Thank you.

Dr. Anna Cabeca
Dr. Anna Cabeca

Dr. Anna is a Triple Board Certified OB/GYN, Anti-Aging Medicine expert, and author of the best selling book, The Hormone Fix.

Dr. Anna helps women heal the 9 most dreadful symptoms of menopause with natural, safe solutions. Follow her for content on hormonal imbalances, vaginal dryness, menopause (and more) that are medically backed, and created to empower women — not just treat them.