Collagen – it’s something that we’re all born with, and in fact, 33% of all of the proteins in our body is made up of collagen. So as you can imagine, it’s pretty important in the smooth running of the everyday machines which are our bodies. But what exactly is collagen and what are both the internal and external benefits to including it in our diet and in our everyday life?
The low down on collagen
Found all throughout our body, including in our skin, our internal organs, muscles, tendons, cartilage, bones, and our teeth, you could pretty much think of collagen as the glue that keeps our body bound together, the elastic that keeps us stretchy and supple, or the oil that keeps our bones and joints lubricated and makes it easy for us to move.
However over time, our body’s production of collagen decreases, and in turn, our body becomes more aged. It’s the decrease in collagen levels that we have to thank for when our body starts to display the tell-tale signs of aging – wrinkles, sagging skin, a higher proneness to scarring, and joint/arthritic pains. By the time we’re 40, our collagen is depleted faster than our bodies are able to produce it, and by age 60, over half of our body’s collagen has already disappeared.
Environmental and lifestyle factors can also play hindrance to our bodies ability to produce collagen, with diets high in sugar, alcohol, smoking, and excessive sun exposure all inhibiting the production of this essential body protein.
5 key benefits of collagen
So what is collagen good for and what are the benefits of promoting a high collagen diet or lifestyle?
Collagen strengthens your skin, hair, and nails – The collagen protein is basically the building block for your skin, hair, and nails, so a lack in this department can see you suffering from weak and splitting nails, dry skin, and brittle hair. When it comes to our skin, collagen is the protein that gives our skin that youthful, fresh look – full, smooth, and supple. Mainly found in the dermis, the bottom layer of our skin, it’s responsible for maintaining our skin’s elasticity. With adequate levels of collagen in your diet, you’ll be able to notice smoother skin, a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, and improved skin tone.
Both our hair and our nails are primarily made up of collagen, and many of the amino acids that are so great for our hair and nails are also found in collagen, making it a winner for both hair and nail growth and regeneration.
Collagen can reduce joint pain and improve your bones health – A lack of collagen means that our tendons, joints, and ligaments are less lubricated, and will move less easy. Studies have found that collagen can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis and other joint disorders as it provides more of the “oil” that helps our bodies to move free and easy.
Collagen is your gut and digestive tracts best friend – Collagen is known to soothe and heal your digestive tract as it helps to repair the mucous lining of your gut. Helping to heal damaged cell walls by providing them with the therapeutic amino acids that they need, a strong and healthy gut means that your body is able to make the most of the nutrients from the food you’re consuming all the while providing an adequate barrier to keep moving the not-so-good, toxic stuff along.
Collagen can help you to get a good night sleep – Collagen carries the amino acid glycine in truckloads, which is an important immunonutrient that helps to promote a deep, restorative sleep. Playing a key role in our brain’s neurotransmitters, studies have shown that ingesting collagen not only helps with improving our overall sleep quality but can also help to reduce our daytime fatigue.
Collagen can help with weight loss as it reduces your appetite – Being protein based, studies have shown that taking a collagen supplement can boost your metabolism as it delivers blood sugar to tissue and in turn boosts your energy levels. At the same time, it has been proven to reduce your overall appetite as collagen peptides have been shown to be 40% more satisfying than other protein powder supplements such as whey and soy based.
Leslie Morrison is a gluten-free food blogger, recipe developer, and food photographer. You can follow blog @DeliciouslyPlated.com