We’ve all seen those adverts right, the ones that feature beautiful women shaking out their gorgeous, shiny, locks courtesy of the latest collagen enriched conditioner. And of course we want hair like that; we want our frazzled, split ends to be transformed into healthy, glowing manes of wonder. Then there are the adverts featuring the women with sumptuous, smooth healthy looking skin, without a wrinkle in sight and it’s all because they use a powerful collagen based moisturiser. And we want that too!
So, collagen…the magic ingredient that is sold to us as the important key to keeping our youthful good looks. But collagen isn’t just about good hair and skin, it is actually far more powerful than many of us are aware and the health benefits of supplementing your diet with collagen are considerable.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and it is literally the glue that holds us together. It forms part of the connective tissue that is found in bones, muscles, arteries, cartilage, ligaments, blood cells, organs in fact pretty much anything you can think of on or in the human body, so it’s pretty powerful and necessary stuff!
The problem is that as we age the levels of collagen in our body decreases, to the extent that by the time we hit 60 over half of the body’s collagen stores has been used up. In basic and somewhat graphic terms this means that the body starts to fall apart, by which I mean joints start to get creaky, skin gets wrinkly, bone density decreases and the signs of old age become more and more noticeable.
So, let’s take a look at all the great things collagen does for us:
Collagen is made up of a series of amino acids and it is these amino acids that help repair tissue, reduce inflammation and help ease joint pain. Conditions, such as osteoarthritis, can benefit greatly from a collagen boost and it works in much the same way as taking say, cortisone or ibuprofen. Prevention is better than cure, so by ensuring your diet is supplemented from an early age it helps strengthen the building block of the body in the best possible way.
Studies have also shown that increasing collagen levels can help build bone density, because collagen stimulates osteoblasts; cells that secrete bone. Picture your body as a machine…the collagen is the power, or the fuel; it powers up the osteoblasts allowing them to do their job the best they can; not enough fuel (collagen) and they can only produce a small amount of end product (bone), but give them a boost and they are firing on all cylinders, with the result of a better end product.
The amino acids, glycine and proline, in collagen are particularly good at helping muscles recover after exercise and can aid the healing of sports related injuries. And the amino acid, arginine, has also been shown to help athletic performance by maintaining and restoring muscle mass.
Collagen is great at breaking down protein and fat within foods and this in turn helps the body digest food a lot easier, therefore reducing any discomfort. Not only this, but collagen also soothes and helps repair the mucous lining of the digestive tract, again making digestion easier and would be particularly beneficial to those people who suffer from digestive disorders.
As I mentioned earlier, collagen has long been known for it’s anti-aging qualities, but it’s not just the skin on our faces that can benefit from a bit of a collagen boost. Increased collagen levels help tighten and smooth out skin (bye bye wrinkles), as well as promote skin cell repair and renewal. This is excellent news for those of us who suffer from the dreaded cellulite or stretch marks! I’m not saying it’s a miracle worker, once you have stretch marks it is near on impossible to get rid of them, but a boost of collagen will help repair the skin and over time this should help them to fade and become much less noticeable.
Collagen alone will not make you lose weight, so I’m afraid I’m not going to tell you that I have the secret to miracle weight loss, however a boost in collagen can help increase your metabolism, which as we all know is definitely going to kick start your diet and hopefully make weight loss easier. The amino acid, glycine, in collagen helps with muscle development and muscles burn more calories than fat. Taking regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and supplementing your body with collagen are all fantastic ways to help your weight loss journey.
What’s the Answer?
Look let’s face facts, none of us are Peter Pan, and the one thing in life we can definitely be sure of is that we are all going to die and our bodies are all going to at some point show signs or symptoms of ageing. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as there are certain steps we can take to help prolong the effects of ageing both in terms of how we look and how our bodies feel and function.
Regular exercise and a balanced diet are both essential components of a healthy body and have been proven to increase your chances of a longer life. Certain foods help with collagen production, so a diet rich in these foods is one way to help boost your levels.
These foods include:
- Dark green leafy vegetables – kale, spinach and cabbage
- Products containing soy – soy milk, beansprouts
- Dark chocolate
- Oily fish – salmon, mackerel
- Nuts – Brazil, almonds, pecans
And regular, gentle exercise, such as yoga, Pilates or even simply going for regular walks is all enough to help keep bones strong, joints mobile and the blood pumping – I’m sure you’ve all heard of the phrase ‘use it or lose it’ right?
Now in an ideal world, eating collagen boosting foods on a day to day basis isn’t always practical and certainly not to everyone’s tastebuds, so how can you supplement your diet in such a way that your body isn’t missing out?
Give your body a boost!
Collagen powders, such as these ones from health food supplement experts Hellenia, are a great way to boost your collagen levels. The powder is simply mixed with either water or even juice, which means it slots easily into your daytime routine. Drinking beverages that contain collagen powder helps to top up any collagen that has already been lost. And don’t just think that collagen is important to those of us in our older years, because it’s not just old age that can deplete our stores. External and environmental factors, such as smoking, poor diet and too much sun exposure all play their part, which is why you should be thinking about the health of your body, no matter how old you are.
Turns out collagen is far more than shiny hair and dewy skin and giving your body a boost of collagen could be exactly what it needs!