Collagen is one of the most popular buzzwords in health and wellness today. It’s almost impossible to leave the grocery store without coming across tubs of powdered collagen on sale or browse your local drug store without seeing collagen-boosting skin anti-aging creams. But just how important is collagen for your health?
As it turns out, it’s very important. This protein can improve the health of your skin, gut, heart, brain and more. And while it’s true that collagen plays an important role in your overall wellbeing, there’s more to it.
Here’s everything you need to know about this popular protein:
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most available structural protein in the human body. Besides water, it’s also the most abundant substance in our bodies and exists mostly in the ExtraCellular matrix (ECM) of the various connective tissues. By dry weight, it forms 90% of the sclera, 80% of tendons, 70-80% of the skin, 60% of the cartilage, 30% of the bones and 1-10% of the muscle mass.
There are 28 types of collagen, but the most critical ones include types I, II, III, IV and V. Forming 90% of the collagen in our bodies, types I and III are the most abundant and support the growth and maintenance of healthy skin, bones, muscles, hair and nails. Type II collagen makes up the fluids in the cartilage and joints and is responsible for their healthy function. Type IV forms the basal lamina, while type V forms the placenta, cell surfaces and hair.
What Does Collagen Do For Your Skin and Body?
Here’s a deeper look at how this popular protein promotes health in the various parts of your body:
Collagen’s impact on the skin is one of the main reasons the protein is making headlines in the cosmetic industry. Along with limiting sun exposure and drinking enough water, collagen can help you get younger-looking skin.
But what does science say about this?
In a recent study, scientists used supplements to increase collagen levels in 69 women aged 35-55 years for eight weeks. Women who took the supplement had improved skin elasticity compared to those who took a placebo.
An even more interesting finding was that the older women had far more noticeable improvements in skin elasticity. This is because collagen production naturally decreases with age, and that left more room for improvement. Besides these two findings, scientists also observed improvements in skin moisture.
Collagen type IV has been proven to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in scientific studies. In one study, scientists from Stanford, the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease (GIND) and UCSF found that type IV collagen can protect the brain from one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease – amyloid-beta proteins.
Amyloid-beta is a type of amino acids that clump together to form the plaque found in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. So by boosting your collagen levels, you can protect your brain against the amino acids that attack the neurons to cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Collagen can lower cholesterol levels in your body and help prevent heart disease. In a scientific study, participants ingested two doses of collagen each day for six months to find out whether their protein intake can help reduce plaque build-up in the arteries.
There were two key findings:
- The LDL to HDL cholesterol ratio decreased substantially. Since a lower ratio decreases your risk, collagen can help prevent heart diseases.
- Collagen not only treated but also prevented further build-up of plaque in the arteries.
Plaque buildup clogs arteries, thus inhibiting blood flow to the various organs. Collagen can prevent this and safeguard you against stroke and heart attack.
The Leaky Gut syndrome and the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are some of the most painful conditions that irritate and inflame the stomach lining and digestive tract. They cause nutrients and other substances to “leak” back into your bloodstream rather than being processed.
When this happens, your overall digestive health is affected, and you might experience things like fatigue, diarrhea, malnutrition, stomach upset, bloating and constipation. This will also affect your general appearance because your digestive system will let vital vitamins and minerals pass right through, instead of absorbing them.
Consuming collagen-rich foods such as bone broth is one of the most effective ways of reducing gut inflammation and irritation. The unique profile of amino acids and structural properties of collagen allows the protein to aid in digestion, reduce the secretion of acid in the stomach, reduce inflammation and heal stomach ulcers.
So even if you aren’t suffering from IBS or Leaky Gut syndrome, increasing your collagen intake is an excellent way to improve the general health of your gut.
Collagen types I and III help maintain healthy, strong nails. As such, you can fortify your nails by boosting your collagen levels through diet and supplements. This will prevent your nails from becoming brittle, reducing the risk of breakage.
How Does Diet Help With Collagen?
Diet is one of the safest and most effective ways to boost collagen levels in your body. That’s because foods with collagen have the protein in its bioavailable form, and this makes it easier for your body to absorb. Eating foods that boost collagen production might also help your body create the three amino acids needed for collagen synthesis. These include glycine, lysine and proline.
Top 10 Collagen-Boosting Foods
Here are 10 collagen-rich foods backed by science:
Egg whites contain proline and glycine, two of the three amino acids needed in collagen synthesis. Additionally, the yolks contain Vitamin D and healthy fats that help maintain healthy skin, muscles and bones.
2. Citrus Fruits
Eating fresh citrus fruits supplies your body with Vitamin C. This vitamin is an antioxidant and a critical factor in the production of collagen. It also reduces photodamage and facilitates wound healing.
3. Fish and Shellfish
The bones and ligaments of fish and shellfish are made of readily bioavailable collagen. But while your everyday tuna sandwich can certainly boost your collagen levels, keep in mind that fish meat has less of the protein compared to other parts such as the scales, head and eyes.
Although citrus fruits tend to get all the glory when it comes to Vitamin C content, berries are also an excellent source. In fact, they provide more Vitamin C than oranges. They also contain high levels of antioxidants, which can help protect your skin from radical damage.
Beans are rich in the amino acids required for collagen synthesis. They also contain copper, another nutrient that helps in the production of collagen.
Oysters contain copper and zinc, two minerals that activate the molecules needed in the production of collagen. If you’re looking for a sustainable seafood choice to help your body’s natural collagen production, this is one of them.
Nuts are the perfect healthy snack to help your body increase its natural collagen production. They contain zinc, a critical prerequisite in the production of collagen.
8. Bone Broth
When you consume bone broth, you’re ingesting cooked collagen. This can be an effective way to restore collagen you might have lost due to aging. One of the key advantages of bone broth is that it contains more potent, bioavailable collagen that mainlines to your cells. What’s more, the gelatin derived from bone broth collagen heals your digestive tract, which is a surefire way of preventing aging skin and inflammation.
Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach contain antioxidants that offer protection against free radicals – the number one culprit for breaking down collagen. Red vegetables such as tomatoes, red peppers and beets contain lycopene which not only boosts collagen production in the body but also protects the skin from sun damage. As for orange veggies such as sweet potatoes and carrots, they contain Vitamin A which is effective at restoring collagen that might have been broken down by free radicals.
Garlic is rich in taurine and lipoic acid, both of which are effective at rebuilding damaged collagen. It also contains sulfur, a critical compound in your body’s natural production of collagen.
Collagen in Skin Care
Eating foods with collagen is a great way to boost collagen levels naturally. But if you want to take your collagen production to the next level, you might want to consider reliable supplements such as the Formulyst Pro-Collagen Serum.
Fortified with a powerful restorative concentrate of proteins and peptides, the Formulyst Pro-Collagen Serum is specially formulated to help aging skin restore its smoothness and elasticity.
Not only is collagen good for your skin, but also your nails, hair, bones, muscles and the brain. By using the 10 foods with collagen above in conjunction with the Formulyst Pro-Collagen Serum, you can keep this all-important protein within optimal levels for a younger, healthier appearance.
So next time you find yourself drooling over a Botox ad, remember that there are cheaper and healthier ways to get beautiful skin.
References: National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Biology of the Extracellular Matrix: An Overview”; National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Oral Supplementation of Specific Collagen Peptides Has Beneficial Effects on Human Skin Physiology: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study”; Science Daily, “Collagen May Help Protect Brain Against Alzheimer’s Disease”; National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Effect of Collagen Tripeptide on Atherosclerosis in Healthy Humans”; National Health Service UK, “Leaky Gut Syndrome”; Health.com, “12 Foods With More Vitamin C Than Oranges”