Collagen has recently become popular as a nutritional supplement and ingredient, mostly in cosmetic and skincare products. Women see collagen as the best protein supplement for preventing aging. They believe that collagen breaks down as they get older because it becomes more difficult for the body to make more. Thus, they turn to collagen supplements in pills and syrup.
Well, it’s a fact. While you can’t measure the level of collagen in your body, it’s possible to know when your body starts lacking collagen as you get older. The symptoms include wrinkled skin, rigid tendons and ligaments, weakened muscles, joint pain, and gastrointestinal problems.
According to Dr. Bradley via Cleveland Clinic, ” “Aside from aging, the top reason people don’t have enough collagen is poor diet; your body can’t make collagen if it doesn’t have the necessary elements.”
Let’s take a look at what collagen is, and its role in the body. This article will discuss the benefits of collagen, why your body needs it and the best collagen-rich foods to add to your diet, instead of taking collagen supplements.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein with various indispensable roles in the body. It’s essential for your healthy skin, bones, muscles, blood vessels, ligaments, and other connective tissues in the body. In addition, it comprises about a third of all of the protein in the body.
Your body naturally produces collagen by combining two amino acids – proline and glycine, which are the building blocks of proteins in your food. Your body produces collagen when you get enough nutrients from food rich in proline, glycine, vitamin C, zinc, and copper.
Similarly, your body also needs high-quality protein in foods that are good sources of amino acids, such as seafood, legumes, dairy, poultry, tofu, and meat.
Collagen-rich foods for a healthy body
Proline is an essential amino acid that plays a good role in collagen production. While the body can produce proline itself, you can consume it in your diet. Foods highest in proline include cabbage, dairy, egg whites, asparagus, dairy, and mushroom.
Glycine is an amino acid that makes up to 35% of the collagen in your body. It’s is found in varying quantities in the dietary protein foods you eat. Foods highest in glycine include meat, poultry, bread products, gelatin, pork skin, legumes, and fish.
Vitamin C is essential for collagen production; it also helps maintain the typical collagen chain in the body. Vitamin C is found in bell peppers and citrus fruits. Food sources include oranges, grapefruit, lemon, citron, pomelo, clementine, lime, tangelo, and many others.
Zinc also plays an important role in supporting healthy collagen production in the body. It activates protein essential for collagen synthesis. Zinc activates collagenase — a protein that allows your cells to remodel collagen as your wound heals. Food high in zinc includes lamb, beans, lentils, pork, cheese, milk, nuts and seeds, chickpeas, and shellfish.
Copper also plays a good role in the production of collagen in the body. It activates lysyl oxidase, — an enzyme required for collagen maturation. Copper helps to keep your heart, blood vessels, and bones healthy. Foods high in copper include cocoa powder, sesame seeds, lentils, cashews, and organ meat.
Benefits of Collagen – Why Your Body Needs It
Generally, collagen plays a protective role throughout the body, from the skin, heart, bone, to the muscles. Here are some benefits of collagen — reasons why your body needs collagen.
Makes your bone stronger
Collagen helps make your bones stronger and denser. It slows down the aging process in your body and helps your body to produce new bones. It also improves your joint function. For people with osteoarthritis, they can take oral collagen supplements to relieve pain.
Smoothens wrinkles and improves skin elasticity
It’s been shown that collagen improves skin elasticity, especially for older people. It also helps in skin hydration, thus lessen skin wrinkles. According to this research report, collagen supplements are used to improve skin appearance by reducing lines and wrinkles.
Increases muscle mass and strength
Collagen plays an important role in increasing and improving muscle mass and strength. According to this 2019 study, active men who took collagen supplements during strength training experienced increased muscle mass and strength more than a placebo.
Promotes heart health
Collagen may help reduce the risk of health-related diseases. The protein plays a good role in protecting the arteries, which carry blood to the rest of your body from the heart. When there’s no enough collagen in your body, the arteries may become frail and weak. This may lead to serious cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis to cause a heart attack or stroke. However, when there’s enough collagen in your body, it contributes to the protection of the heart and blood vessels.
Other benefits of Collagen
- Most people experience hair loss as they grow older. Collagen helps increases the quantity and thickness of hair on your head.
- Collagen helps in faster nail growth and also lessens broken or chipped nails.
- It’s been claimed that collagen also helps in improving brain health.
- Some have also claimed that collagen supplements promote gut health.
- While some believe that collagen supplements helps in weight loss, there is no research report or study that support these claims.
Hey Joyfreshers, what are your best reasons for consuming collagen? How has adding collagen-rich foods to your diet or taking collagen supplements helped your health? Share with us in the comment below!