The New Super Supplement: Collagen
Top Health Benefits of Collagen
Move aside kale, there’s a new health craze in town. Collagen is the new “buzzword” in terms of health and wellness, and with good reason. Collagen, though naturally produced by your body, has some amazing health benefits that can be elevated by taking collagen supplements or by consuming this protein naturally. Let’s explore some of the top benefit health benefits of collagen.
What is Collagen?
There’s a reason why you’ve been hearing the term “collagen” in recent years, but what is it exactly? Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and is the major component of the connective tissue that makes up tendons, ligaments, skin and muscles. Collagen provides the skin with structure and elasticity, holds together your bones and muscles, protects organs and provides structure to joints and tendons. While the body naturally produces collagen on a regular basis, this production does slow with age. Additional, poor diet and behavioral choices including smoking and sun exposure can also decrease collagen levels.
Collagen Can Ease Joint Pain
One of the main benefits of collagen is that is can aid in easing joint pain and reducing inflammation of the joints. Being that this protein is a major component of the makeup of your connective tissues, it also helps to maintain the integrity of cartilage (that rubber-like tissue that protects your joints). As the amount of collagen in your body decreases with age, the risk of developing degenerative joint disorders like osteoarthritis increase. However, studies have found that upping your collagen intake can alleviate symptoms of arthritis. It was even found that those with severe rheumatoid arthritis saw relief in swollen and tender joints after increasing their collagen intake.
Collagen Can Benefit Your Skin
Collagen helps promote skin elasticity and structure, helping to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin. The decrease of collagen in our bodies as we age in part explains the increase in appearance of wrinkles as we grow older. Not only does collagen itself improve the youthful appearance of your skin, it also promotes the production of other proteins that also aid in the structure of your skin, including elastin and fibrillin.
Collagen Can Help Build Muscle and Burn Fat
Collagen is an abundant protein found in your body, comprising a large amount (1-10%) of the body’s muscle tissues. It has a concentrated amount of glycine, which is an amino acid involved in the synthesis of creatine. Sound familiar? Creatine provides the muscles with what you need to help you power through your workouts that is commonly added to workout supplements for this purpose. Increased collagen intake has also been found to benefit those with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that occurs as we age.
Collagen Can Help Promote Gut Health
As we’ve already learned, collagen is a major component of the connective tissues in your body. Yet this goes beyond tendons and ligaments. Collagen is also the gut’s connective tissue and can help support and strengthen the protective lining of your digestive tract. One major benefit seen in increased collagen intake is the treatment of leaky gut syndrome, which is an alteration in the barrier function of the intestine that can allow particles to pass into the bloodstream, creating inflammation. Collagen can build up the tissues that line your gastrointestinal tract and promote better gut health.
Collagen Could Promote Heart Health
Collagen also provides structure to your body’s arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Without collagen, these arteries can become weak and fragile, potentially leading to atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries that can lead to heart attack and stroke. Including more collagen in a heart-healthy diet can help to prevent these potentially life-threatening ailments.
How to Consume Collagen
Of course, there are countless collagen supplements available on the market today. If you’re looking for a supplement to increase your collagen intake, look for pure collagen that is colorless when mixed with water, that is virtually tasteless. Be careful to avoid supplements with a yellow or brown tint, or with an “off” flavor. These factors are indicative of a lower quality supplement.
If you’re looking to consume collagen naturally, a high-protein, well-balanced diet can do the trick. Collagen in found in beef, chicken fish, and egg whites, just to name a few. One particularly collagen-rich food is bone broth, which is made by simmering bones to help extract their flavors and nutrients. This concoction also has several other health benefits to be seen. When consuming collagen, it is also recommended to pair this intake with Vitamin C, as it helps your body better absorb the nutrients in collagen.