09 Oct Why Is Collagen the Key to a Youthful Look
Collagen is the key to a youthful look. But why is that?
We can start by answering what collagen really is and why we all need it.
Collagen is a protein found all over the human body.
After all, collagen is the most abundant protein in humans and mammals in general. It makes up for a whopping 25-35% of the protein content in our bodies! It’s the main structural protein of skin, ligaments, tendons, bones, guts, and that’s just the top of the list. It helps with the elasticity of all of them, all while maintaining firmness.
You can say that this substance is of the highest importance since it practically holds the body together.
Because it’s one of the pillars of our body structure, collagen keeps the skin elastic and tight, keeps ligaments healthy, tendons and gut. But that’s not all – it helps decrease fat storage in blood vessels, and even improves eye health.
Needless to say, the lack of this protein in the body can have a much bigger impact than just wrinkles.
What’s Collagen and How Does It Work?
There are two types of collagen; natural (produced by our bodies) and synthetic (which the body didn’t produce and it came from the outside source i.e. supplements).
According to Dennis Gross, M.D., a dermatologist in New York, “Collagen fibers are like a bunch of sturdy, fat Roman columns placed close together, holding up the top layer of skin. When you’re young and healthy, the pillars are strong, straight, and plentiful, so skin looks smooth. And when you pinch your cheek, skin feels spongy and full.”
This means that when the skin is healthy, it automatically repairs and make new collagen. If all is well, the cellular collagen-making machines called fibroblasts churn out new collagen and your body produces enzymes that, like a microscopic wrecking crew, break down old or damaged collagen and carry it away, says Ronald Moy, M.D., a derm in Beverly Hills, California.
This process results in a give-and-take collagen activity that keeps the skin looking smooth and young.
However, there are things such as smoking, stress, pollution, ultraviolet rays and other factors that cause great harm to the production of free radicals in your skin.
You can look at radicals like little needles that poke holes in and break down collagen fibers, causing the skin to thin. Additionally, a little too much sunbathing reduces fibroblasts’ collagen factories, making the collagen layer lose its strength. This leads to the overstimulation of the wrecking crew that then clears out healthy collagen.
Collagen is a protein that’s made of 19 different amino acids (amino acids are the structural pillars of all proteins.)
The Types of Collagen
Out of all collagen types, there are three types of collagen (that are most important), which are:
-Type 1 collagen
-Type 2 collagen
-Type 3 collagen
Type 1 Collagen
Type 1 collagen is the most important type for the human body. It is the most common collagen type in our body and is found in tendons, connective tissues, muscles, to name a few. It accounts for a staggering 80% of the collagen in the human body.
Combined with elastin, type 1 collagen gives elasticity to our body.
Type 2 Collagen
Type 2 collagen is the main component of the cartilage in our bodies. It takes 15% of the total collagen in our bodies, and up to 50% of all protein contained in cartilage.
Type 3 Collagen
Type 3 collagen is a major component in almost all internal organs and the skin. And, together with type 1 collagen, is what keeps cells together.
What Happens When You Have Collagen Deficiency?
Since collagen is one of the pillars of the human body, a deficiency in this protein can have catastrophic effects on health.
What are the symptoms though?
Collagen Deficiency and Cartilage
When your body suffers from collagen deficiency, the cartilage will start showing a lack of joint stability, stiffness, and pain.
If left untreated, it might lead to osteoarthritis.
Consuming collagen, on the other hand, stimulates cartilage growth.
Collagen Deficiency and Teeth
Although teeth aren’t the first thing coming on the mind when we talk about collagen, it is collagen that makes the connective tissues that make up both bones and teeth.
So, needless to say, collagen deficiency can result in gum and teeth diseases.
Collagen Deficiency and Muscles
Since collagen is one of the main components of muscles, collagen deficiency will lead to aches, soreness, weakness, and muscle degeneration.
Collagen Deficiency and Hair
Collagen is also a part of the hair follicle. So, a deficiency in collagen will lead to thinner hair, damaged texture, and messy hairline.
Collagen Deficiency and Skin
If you suffer from collagen deficiency, your skin will start to sag and wrinkle, and it will lose its elasticity. And, the lack of collagen in the skin is one of the major factors that cause cellulite.
Benefits of Consuming Collagen
As the title of this post states, collagen is the secret for reducing aging.
This is because this protein is found in our bones, skin, nails and hair, muscles, even the connecting tissue between cells.
It is proven that by taking hydrolyzed collagen, the wrinkle depth will decrease and the skin’s elasticity will improve. Another research shows that by taking a couple of grams of collagen supplement for a few months, the cellulite on the skin will reduce.
You’ll Have Stronger Bones and Joints
Consuming collagen will help with joint pain. This includes not only athletes who continuously strain their ligaments, but people with arthritis, including osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
In fact, consuming it will help your body replace the fluids between joints and repair cartilage. Doctors even recommend drinking collagen for damaged intervertebral discs.
Lastly, consuming collagen will prevent the deterioration of bones that naturally comes with age. This is because consuming it helps reduce the number of proteins that inhibit bone breakdown in the body which leads to osteoporosis.
Collagen Boosts Muscle Mass
A significant part of muscle tissue is composed of collagen. So, this protein is a part of what makes your muscles strong and helps them function properly.
It’s been proven time and time again that consuming collagen prevents age-related muscle atrophy.
A study by the British Journal of Nutrition gave the following results:
Out of a selection of frail men who were subjected to the study, 27 took 15 grams of collagen while on a 12-week exercise program. When compared to other people in the study who didn’t take collagen and were subjected to the same exercise regimen, the selected 27 had gained significantly more muscle mass and strength.
It Promotes a Healthier Heart
Since collagen is a structural component of arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood out of the heart to the rest of the body), consuming the protein will lead to improved cardiovascular health.
Not consuming enough collagen, on the other hand, might lead to atherosclerosis, a disease that results in the narrowing of arteries. This might potentially lead to a blood cloth inside the arteries which might even lead to heart attack and stroke.
Foods Rich in Collagen
Below is a list of natural sources of collagen and foods that promote the body’s synthesis process of this protein:
Eggs are a natural protein bomb. They contain type 1 collagen in the yolk and shell and are rich in sulfur that’s needed for the synthesis process of collagen. Sulfur also supports the detox of the liver. Remember, the liver is the body’s own laboratory that processes and gets rid of all toxins in the body. This includes environmental toxins that interfere with the collagen synthesis process in the body too.
Nutritionists recommend combining consuming collagen with a healthy amount of vitamin C for a reason. This vitamin has antioxidant properties, making it a big part of the collagen synthesis process in the body. It’s also an essential molecule for improving skin health.
Recent studies show that vitamin C may help prevent and treat damage caused by ultraviolet light.
Foods that abound with this vitamin are:
– Spinach, cabbage, and other leafy greens
Bone broth is the healthiest supplement for collagen. This is because its made with ingredients that bioavailable collagen that’s absorbed and used by your body without the need to synthesize it, which is the case with products that contain nutrients and antioxidants to assist the process.
Bone broth is made from simmering bones, tendons, and joints from beef, pork, chicken, and any other source. This releases type 1, 2, and 3 collagen from the ingredients, alongside other proteins, electrolytes, and amino acids that are vital for improving your overall health.
Bone broth is great for boosting the collagen levels in your body and is richest in type 1 collagen which supports skin health. Type 2 collagen, on the other hand, is found in turkey and chicken broth, and it will help boost joint and muscle health.
Wild salmon contains zinc, which acts as a catalyst to turn on the proteins used for collagen synthesis.
Also, salmon meat is rich in omega 3 acids which help with skin health and inflammation.
Spinach, Cabbage, and Other Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy greens aren’t just a great source of vitamin C. In fact, they are among the most nutrient-dense foods available. They are completely natural and help prevent disease and provide the body with the most essential nutrients that are necessary for well-being.
They get their dark green color because of their high concentration of chlorophyll. This green pigment helps plants to absorb energy from light, a process called photosynthesis.
Consuming concentrated doses of chlorophyll helps the body boost its antioxidant activity in prevention against damage from UV rays. It also gives the body the necessary nutrients to free radicals from toxins that cause premature aging.
Dark, leafy greens are a great alternative to encourage the body to produce more collagen and are the go-to food for vegans and vegetarians trying to boost their collagen levels.
By now, you’ve realized the biggest perk of consuming collagen. It is, of course, slowing down the inevitable aging process.
Collagen will help you keep your body moving with no pain, add that youngish shine to your hair, and keep that smile without the fear the wrinkles will show.
After all, we are what we eat, so be sure to include collagen-rich foods in your diet to stay young longer.