Collagen has become a household name thanks to the dozen anti-aging creams available over-the-counter. It is the structural protein that forms the connective tissue across the body; it is present in the skin, hair and nails. It accounts for 70% of the protein in your skin. While collagen can be supplied externally, the best benefits are reaped when the requirement is met internally, through diet or collagen supplements.
The Benefits of Collagen
Skin and Hair Health
Your skin, hair and nails are largely made up of collagen fibers. It is responsible for maintaining flexibility and tensile strength. It is that essential nutrient that makes your hair and nails strong and your skin supple and elastic.
Collagen synthesis drops as you age. The most visible signs are loose and sagging skin, dryness and wrinkles. Lack of skin elasticity will also create problems such as cellulite and stretch marks more noticeable. Boosting collagen levels can help restore skin firmness and smoothness and make hair and nails less brittle. Thus, it can delay aging.
Not many know about the benefits of collagen in relieving arthritic joints. The connective tissue between joints is also bundles of collagen put together. As the amount of collagen depletes, you will notice stiff, swollen and painful joints, affecting mobility.
Because of this benefit, increasing your intake of collagen can be an effective remedy for arthritis. The structural protein fights inflammation and prevents bone-joint degeneration in the long run.
People suffering digestive disorders like a leaky gut, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colitis, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease etc. have an inflamed, irritated or eroded gut lining. Thus, a lot of toxins gain entry into the digestive tracts interfering with digestion. Collagen improves digestion by re-coating and repairing the digestive tract as well as restoring the flora of your stomach. It can also help breakdown complex dietary proteins in lactose intolerant individuals.
Detoxification is a process via which the body tries to get rid of toxic and unhealthy substances. Collagen contains the compound Glycine. It is an amino acid that kind of makes these toxic substances safe as they pass through the liver and other organs; in its absence there could be severe damage.
Collagen also regulates hormone production by improving amino acid balance. It enhances metabolism, increases energy levels and helps in muscle development.
Excellent Sources of Collagen
- Soy – Soy and soy products contain genistein. It is a plant hormone that boosts the production of collagen helping fight wrinkles and fine lines. It also blocks free radical damage.
- Meat, chicken and fish – These food sources are rich in protein. They also contain lysine and proline. These compounds support the natural production of collagen in the body. Fish that have concentrations of the Coenzyme Q-10 also help repair and regenerate collagen fibers in the body. You could also include egg whites, turkey and oysters. Oysters also have an abundance of zinc, another mineral that enhances collagen production in the body.
- Nuts – Peanuts and walnuts fulfill the requirement for lysine in a vegetarian diet.
- Red fruits and vegetables – Pile up on apples, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, and beets in your diet. The antioxidant lycopene increases collagen production. It also blocks sun damaged and reverses the signs of aging.
Other foods you can eat are avocados for their rich Omega-3 fatty acid content, cabbage, carrots, French beans, flaxseed, citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges for their high Vitamin C concentrations, garlic and dark green vegetables.
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