You have to admit it’s a really neat idea, but there is no way?
Actually, there’s more than a grain of truth in this. And that grain of truth is surprisingly found in collagen….
Let’s take a look at what collagen can do for your body – including smoothing out some of those wrinkles.
So, what is so special about collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body. Collagen is famed for its role in giving skin its strength and structure – collagen produces a key protein that gives skin its elasticity. But collagen is also one of the most important structures supporting your whole body, making up 90% of connective tissue and 70% of our skin.
Without collagen our bodies would not properly function, as it serves a a crucial structural element of bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. It makes sense that the word “collagen” comes from the Greek word for glue. Did you know that gram for gram, Type One collagen fibrils are actually stronger than steel?
It also has a significant positive impact on those who struggle with low energy, poor immunity and digestive issues.
However, did you also know that when we get older, specifically when we hit 25, our collagen levels decline at a rapid rate? Or that women actually have lower collagen density than men?
Some other wondrous gifts of collagen
Collagen is known to have magical anti-aging properties, several studies have shown that people taking collagen supplements showed noticeable differences in skin health. If that wasn’t enough in itself, collagen also helps:
- It can actually help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. As Alzheimer’s disease is partially caused by amyloid-beta proteins attacking neurons in our brain, collagen can combat this by serving as a form of protection.
- As irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut syndrome, SIBO and other gastrointestinal conditions are on the rise, it’s important to fuel our digestive system with the nutrients that will allow for proper functioning. These conditions are spurred by common actions such as taking prescription medication, stress, or even a poor diet. As a result, the lining of our gut can become irritated and inflamed, causing nasty symptoms such as diarrhea, upset stomach, and poor nutrient absorption etc. Collagen has the power to “seal and heal” the gut by increasing the amount of connective tissue, as well as conserving the remaining protective lining of the gut. In other words, it will infuse the damaged cell walls with amino acids, smoothing and healing the gut lining.
- Participants in a recent NCBI were given collagen twice a day for six months and found that it prevented the buildup of plaque in their arteries. This protects against heart attacks and stroke by ensuring that you do not clog your arteries (that blocks blood flow to your organs) (1).
- All detoxification happens in the liver, and the detox benefits of collagen are astound. It really boils down to the protection it provides the liver, by minimizing the damage of foreign substances that pass through it, such as alcohol and toxins.
- Collagen provides natural long term pain relief by supporting the re-growth of joint tissue. For instance, an experiment showed that for individuals with knee pain, after 180 days participants indicated lower scores on the osteoarthritis index, as well as less pain, stiffness feeling of physical limitations (2).
So, as you can see, collagen can be extremely beneficial. However, prior to adding in supplements and diet alterations, there are simple ways to ensure we are not depleting our natural levels. If you want to keep strong levels of collagen you need to avoid the three S’s:
UV rays can disrupt collagen production, reducing the amount of collagen within our body. Remember that sunblock protects against the UV rays, we aren’t saying you can’t soak up the sun, just make sure you lather up.
When you eat a lot of sugar, it can damage elastin and attack collagen molecules. More specifically, Glycation occurs, in which unused sugar attaches to the fat proteins in our skin. Glycation produces enzymes that weaken and break down collagen and elastin fibers. So, there goes the beautiful, plump, youthful skin we all strive to maintain!
Unfortunately our bodies have the ability to produce antibodies that target collagen synthesis, specifically those who have autoimmune diseases. As a result, our bodies will then react by reducing the amount of collagen produced, or even producing dysfunctional collagen that does not provide the same benefits.
How can I get more collagen?
What are a few ways to ensure that we are consuming collagen in our daily diet?
Well, let’s first clarify that you cannot consume collagen directly from most food, however you can eat foods that help our body produce more collagen of its own.
Bone Broth is one of the richest sources of collagen, and easily absorbed, especially if you are one dealing with gut conditions such as IBS (where you already experience absorption issues) . It contains what is called “bioavailable collagen”, which means your body can quickly use this protein. Not to mention bone broth also contains other beneficial vitamins, minerals and important amino acids.
Protein intake is the most important factor in our body’s supply of collagen. Thus make sure to include foods such as, salmon, eggs, avocados, tuna, and lean meat in your diet. Along with this protein try to also include some sources of vitamin C that enhances collagen synthesis by ensuring our body can convert it to a useable protein.
Lastly, there is always the option to take a collagen supplement, as this will ensure you are receiving and absorbing collagen directly. Vital Protein is a company that offers a top product with one of the highest nutritional profiles of collagen on the market. Planet Paleo is also a great product in that they offer a variety of a specific kinds, including ones specific for digestion.
In sum, if you are struggling with digestive issues or joint pain, have a family history of poor heart health, or simply have hit 25 and want to be more proactive in keeping skin firm.. collagen may be the answer.