When you hear the word collagen, what comes to mind? Do you immediately think of it as an ingredient in beauty products? Or does your mind draw a blank? I’m pretty sure a lot of you are scratching your heads right now, trying to think up an answer. Don’t worry. Let me go ahead and discuss a little bit more about it and what it’s good for.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is actually a protein. To be specific, it is a hard, insoluble, and fibrous protein. It makes up one-third of the protein found in the human body. This protein contains the amino acids proline, glycine, hydroxyproline, and arginine.
It’s found practically everywhere in the body—in skin, muscles, bones, tendons, blood vessels, and the digestive system. Basically, it’s the “glue” that holds the body together.
There are four main types of collagen. Type I is responsible for the structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth. Type II is in elastic cartilage. This cushions joints. Type III supports muscle structure, organ structure, and artery structure. And the final type, type IV, helps in filtration and is in the layers of the skin.
Ways Collagen Benefits the Body
It’s safe to say that collagen is one of the most important compounds our body needs in order to function properly. Here are the many ways this protein can benefit us.
Improves Skin Conditions
There’s something in this protein that promotes skin collagen regeneration. That means they take care of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, crow’s feet, laugh lines, and other facial imperfections that old age brings. Increasing collagen levels in the body also makes your skin look firmer, smoothens the skin, improves skin elasticity, and keeps skin properly moisturized. It basically makes sure your skin is in tip-top shape. Also, this protein reduces cellulite and stretch marks.
If you have peeling or splitting nails, then a lack of collagen in your system is to blame. Adding this protein into your diet will make nails stronger. Take note that your nails are mainly made of minerals, keratin, and collagen. And every day, the amount of collagen that’s naturally in our bodies decrease. That’s why in order to maintain strong nails, we need to add more collagen into our system.
Supports Healthy Teeth and Gums
Gum disease is an infection of the gums and the bones that support the teeth. The bacteria starts accumulating around the teeth. They then give off acids that start eroding the bony parts of the teeth. Eventually, the connective tissue that holds the teeth in the mouth gets weaker. Then the tooth starts to loosen and will eventually fall out. To ensure healthy gums and teeth and no tooth loss, make sure to increase collagen intake. This will improve the bone density in your jaw, in the papilla around the teeth, and in the alveolar bone. This is the bone responsible for holding in the tooth in its socket.
Provides Healthy Hair
Collagen and hair growth go hand in hand. This is because the protein is a major substance in the composition of hair. Getting more of this protein in your body strengthens the hair and promotes hair growth. Adding this into your diet reverses the signs of hair loss as well. According to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, there’s an “essential relationships between extracellular matrix (ECM) and hair follicle regeneration, suggesting that collagen could be a potential therapeutic target for hair loss and other skin-related diseases.”
Helps with Wounds
Another for this protein is in wound healing. What it does is it attracts new skin cells to the wound site. It also promotes healing as well as provides a platform for the growth of new tissue. Collagen dressings are perfect for addressing chronic nonhealing wounds, exuding wounds, partial and full-thickness wounds, granulating or necrotic wounds, second-degree burns, or areas of skin donation and skin grafts.
Reduces Joint Pains
When we start losing natural collagen in our bodies, our tendons and ligaments start moving with less ease. This leads to stiffness, swollen joints, and other issues. Taking in more of this protein will definitely ease the pain and will help the joints move more easily. It even reduces the risk of joint deterioration. A study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences shows that people with osteoarthritis joint pain who were given the type 2 of this protein show significant enhancements in daily activities. Some examples are walking up stairs, ascending or sleeping, and a general improvement in their quality of life.
Soothes Anxiety and Promotes Good Sleep
The glycine in collagen helps in relieving stress as it has anti-anxiety properties. Also, the glycine content improves the quality of sleep you get. It also makes sure to eliminate daytime drowsiness.
Osteoporosis is a medical condition where the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue. This is typically a result of hormonal changes or calcium or vitamin D deficiency. Studies show you can prevent osteoporosis by boosting your collagen intake. It stimulates bone-creating cells. This protein also stimulates the body to create more bone collagen, ensuring strong bones in the long run.
According to researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, type II supplementation helps patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The supplements decrease swelling in tender joints.
Treats Several Gastrointestinal Issues
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition where harmful toxins pass through the digestive tract. If you suffer from this, collagen will help break down proteins and soothe the gut’s lining. It also heals damaged cell walls and infuse them with healing amino acids. Collagen also seals and heals the protective lining of the gastrointestinal tract. This protein also treats other gastrointestinal issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
Prevents the Hardening of Arteries
The walls if the arteries are mostly made up of collagen. To prevent the hardening of the arteries, which could lead to more serious complications, ensure a healthy dose of said protein is present in your body. They maintain the artery walls and is effective in reversing atherosclerosis.
Aids in Weight Loss
A study shows a 20 percent reduction of food intake due to the ingestion of collagen. This protein also keeps you feeling more satiated longer, thus ensuring no snacks between meals. It also improves the body’s metabolism, which ensures you burn those fats better and faster.
Improves Liver Function
The liver is one of the largest organs in the body and responsible for many functions such as digesting, storing nutrients, blood cleansing, and is part of the immune system. If it experiences some damage, then you have a problem. Fortunately, adding collagen to your diet will help. Again, the glycine content takes center stage here. It is known to reduce liver damage. Also, it aids in detoxification and protects cells and body tissues. It also helps maintain a healthy and well-functioning liver.
Ways to Boost Collagen Production
Unfortunately, as we age, our body’s collagen production slows down as well. Lifestyle factors and environmental toxins also contribute to the breaking down of its production. There are also specific factors that damage it. Sugar and refined carbs is one thing. Other factors are too much sun and smoking.
However, there’s good news. There are plenty of ways to help boost this protein in our bodies. One easy way is to try out some bone broth. Just simmer bones of grass-fed cows on low heat for around 24 hours. You can even add your favorite vegetables for more flavor. Also, there are plenty of supplements available that ensure you are getting the right amount your body needs in order to function properly.