The word "collagen" comes from the Greek "kolla", which means glue. It is the most abundant protein in our body, forming the musculoskeletal system and all connective tissue. Experts often refer to it as the fountain of youth. As we age, our body's ability to create collagen begins to slow down. As a result, our skin, hair, tendons, cartilage, bones, joints, organs and intestines begin to lose their structure, causing signs of aging and poor health.
Collagen is composed primarily of amino acids, many of which must be obtained through diet. There are delicious foods that help replenish collagen levels, but supplementation can benefit you more effectively and in more ways than just beauty.
Studies show that our skin is made up of about 70% collagen. Some studies have found that collagen peptide intake significantly reduces the volume of eye wrinkles by up to 20 percent, and the effect is long-lasting.1 Other studies show that after 6 months of use, collagen led to a marked improvement in skin appearance in women suffering from moderate cellulite2 and stretch marks.
About 33% of collagen is made from the amino acids proline and glycine. Currently, obtaining therapeutic amounts of collagen from diet alone can be difficult. Hydrolyzed collagen protein (powder) is probably the easiest way to increase collagen levels. Hydrolyzed simply means that the protein is broken down into easy to use molecules. Two very reputable brands are Great Lakes and Vital Proteins (I have no affiliation with them). Taking 2 tablespoons at breakfast and at night has proven to be enough to experience the benefits. There is virtually no taste or odor.
Bone broth, commonly used centuries ago and popular again today, is rich in collagen, minerals and other special anti-inflammatory properties. From the kitchen or health food store, it's easy to sip broth like tea, or use it in soups and stir fry. Bone broth is high in protein and supports the immune system. It is especially useful for digestive health and reducing inflammation.3
In our daily diet, fish, meat, bones and organs are the best sources of collagen. Vegetarians can rely on beans, cheese, eggs and wheat germ. Here's a great tip: Adding vitamin C from berries and greens will increase collagen utilization and production, in addition to the mineral copper and sterols from aloe vera.4 You can get copper from sources like sesame seeds and cashews.5
Beyond its beauty benefits, collagen's amino acid profile can be life-changing for everyone. It supports mood, gut health, joint pain6 and post-exercise pain.7 Its high proline content, which has been shown to be significantly present in wound healing,8 and glycine, an important inhibitory neurotransmitter, as well as a natural anti-inflammatory9 are of great interest in research today.
With consistent use, anti-aging, improved digestion, detoxification, restful sleep7, brain function, as well as weight loss, all the benefits of collagen consumption can be experienced. For those of us who want to beat the clock, stay pain-free and look younger, collagen might just be your secret weapon.