When you hear the word “collagen,” you may think about Hollywood stars filling their faces with the stuff. But one of the current hottest wellness trends isn’t about supersizing your lips. It’s about improving your body, inside and out, by ingesting collagen.
Exactly what is collagen?
Collagen is a protein that is produced naturally by the body to provide structural support for nails, hair, teeth, joints, and even your gut. But as you age, your body begins to make less collagen. As a result, skin sags, joints weaken, and hair loses its luster. By the age of 25, collagen production slows down and it continues to slow down for years. One reason is natural aging. The other is that UV rays break down collagen, so exposure to sunlight can hasten the process – one reason some people may appear older than others. By supplementing your body’s collagen production, it is said that you can regain some of this lost youth.
How can I supplement collagen production?
You can supplement collagen production by ingesting dehydrated collagen. Dehydrated collagen is essentially “hydrolyzed collagen,” the collagen that everyone is talking about. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online, this collagen is made from bone and cartilage derived from bovine sources. The bone and cartilage are crushed, ground, defatted, and soaked in acid to remove the calcium and break the collagen bonds. The result is dehydrated collagen that is either consumed as a powder or as a pill. Collagen is broken down in order to make it easier for your body to absorb.
What are the basic benefits of ingesting collagen?
The basic benefit of ingesting collagen is that you boost your own collagen. Replenished collagen then promotes healthier skin, hair, and nails, benefits joints, and helps boost lean muscle mass. In short, collagen helps your body both inside and out. While it may appear to work, there isn’t a lot of science behind the theory to back up these claims because collagen is sold as a supplement, which isn’t regulated or investigated the same way as drugs.
One of the less-touted reported benefits of collagen is that it can help gut health. Dr. Axe tells The Zoe Report that collagen may help strengthen the lining of the digestive tract, thus preventing gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut. Other health benefits may include preventing bone loss, building muscle loss, helping with brain health, and weight loss.
Many runners and athletes take collagen in hopes of alleviating some of the wear and tear on their joints caused by years of activity. By taking collagen, they seem to experience less joint pain and rely on fewer other treatments including painkillers.
How do you take collagen?
Collagen is commonly found in powder form and can be added to hot or cold liquids. It does have a mild taste if you stir it into plain water, but you can find recipes that recommend sprinkling a couple tablespoons into your morning green drink or even coffee or tea. If adding a powder to your foods doesn’t do it for you, you can also find collagen occurring in food sources, such as bone broth and pork skin.