Want Strong and Healthy Joints, Bones, Skin, Tendons, and More?
Collagen may be just what you’re looking for. It is one of the building blocks of our physical bodies — a structural protein that is found in those joints, bones, skin, and tendons, as well as many other places in the body. It is the most abundant protein in our bodies. Connective tissue is built mainly from collagen. It is a fibrous protein, with its molecules packed together to form long fibers. These fibers give skin elasticity and are incredibly strong — I read in a couple of places that, gram for gram, they are stronger than steel! There are more than a dozen kinds of collagen, which have different kinds of structures and functions in the body. There are 19 different amino acids in collagen, which makes it a complete protein.
At this point in my research, the chemistry got a little dense for me, but let’s just say that in any case, collagen is a vital part of a strong and healthy body.
What Does Collagen Do in the Body?
Let’s just start with the skin. In the middle layer of the skin (the dermis), collagen helps form a foundation for the growth of new cells, as well as restoring and replacing dead skin cells. Any wounds we have are assisted in their healing by collagen. It plays a role in healthy digestion by keeping the protective lining of the digestive tract strong. Our bones, joints, cartilage, tendons, all rely on collagen for elasticity and strength, as well as for smooth and pain-free gliding and motion. Our organs need collagen, as it helps make up a protective coating around many of them — including tissues in the heart and blood vessels. Collagen is an essential element in a placenta, helping to provide nutrients and oxygen to a growing baby.
Our bodies make collagen, and we can increase the amount of collagen our bodies produce by eating a healthy diet, including protein — cheese, eggs whites, soy, and beef, chicken, and fish (including bone broth). Foods rich in vitamin C help our bodies produce collagen (citrus, broccoli, peppers, strawberries). Berries, such as raspberries, cherries, blueberries, and blackberries are a healthy addition to a collagen-producing diet, as are shellfish and nuts. Of course, collagen supplementation (through bone broth, collagen powders, products with added collagen, and other collagen supplements) is a way to make sure you are getting enough collagen in your diet.
As we age, we don’t make as much collagen, and a decreased amount of collagen is to blame for wrinkles. This decrease in collagen also explains the decline of the structural integrity of bones, joints, cartilage, and tendons. Ummm, hello, joint pain and osteoporosis. This loss of collagen can be accelerated by poor diet, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption, and excessive sun exposure. This is why those with poor diets, long-term smokers, drinkers, and those who work and play in the sun often have more wrinkled skin than they otherwise would.
Increasing Collagen Can Help in These Ways
You probably can figure these out, but increasing collagen can help keep skin and hair healthy. Collagen has long been used to strengthen nails, hair, and teeth. You can fight the effects of aging bones, joints, cartilage, and other connective tissues and maintain strength and flexibility. Studies going back over 30 years have linked collagen supplementation to a substantial pain decrease in osteoarthritis suffers.
Digestive function can be improved by making sure you are getting enough collagen. I found the information on collagen use in patients with IBS, Crone’s, Ulcerative Colitis, and Leaky Gut particularly interesting. Studies have found that those who suffer with these conditions have a decreased amount of collagen, so supplementation can help heal and strengthen the tissue that lines the colon and gastrointestinal tract. With all of the information coming out about how important a strong gut is to our overall health and well-being, this is something that gets my attention!
Collagen may help us maintain muscle mass, which is critical as we age, and that muscle mass may help boost metabolism. We all need that energy boost to get through the day; am I right?
There’s More to Collagen than a Capsule
Luckily, there are all kinds of ways to boost collagen consumption. Lassen’s carries many products, from capsules to powders, from protein bars to bone broth, from candy to coffee. You will be able to find the ones that are just right for you. Our helpful staff can steer you in the right direction!
I think all of us are trying to give our bodies all of the care that we can. As we are about to start a new year, let’s all care about our health just a little more.
If you want to learn more, I found this comprehensive article from Dr. Axe, What is Collagen, very helpful.