When it comes to lasting health, nothing tops a balanced diet to keep your inner cogs whirring. Most people know about vitamin supplements, but did you know a daily dose of collagen can work wonders too?
Here's the lowdown on the latest age-defying wellness buzz.
What is collagen, exactly?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and you can find it just about everywhere. It's in our bones, skin, muscles, tendons, digestive system and even our blood vessels.
It's what gives skin its elasticity and helps to repair, renew and replace skin cells. Without collagen, our skin couldn't heal effectively and would hang loose and lacklustre no matter how old we were. It's also important for healthy joints and effectively 'gluing' the body together - it's pretty damn useful stuff!
There are around 16 different types of collagen, each important in their own right. Here are the five most prominent variations and what they do to help our bodies function and thrive:
This is the most common collagen type, making up tiny eosinophilic (or cell) fibers that help form tendons, ligaments, organs and skin. It also helps bones form and assists with healing by keeping the skin elastic and holding tissue together to prevent tearing.
Type 2 collagen tackles joint pain and arthritis symptoms like nothing else. It helps to build cartilage and keeps our joints healthy and moving seamlessly.
Just like Type 1, Type 3 collagen is found in our skin, muscles and organs. This type is made of reticular fibers and also makes up part the extracellular matrix that forms our organs and skin. It also strengthens blood vessels in the heart, meaning Type 3 collagen deficiency often leads to rupturing.
Type 4 collagen exists inside the body to pad and protect. It helps to form protective tissue around our most important organs, keeping them safe and healthy. It's found in-between the outermost layer of our skin and the very deepest tissue layer.
This type of collagen is needed to make the surface of cells, as well as hair strands and important tissue that helps to form a healthy placenta during pregnancy.
As we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen. This can lead to wrinkles, sagging skin and less bodily elasticity in general - things we often refer to as 'common signs of ageing'. While there's nothing wrong with growing older gracefully, working on increasing levels of collagen within the body can help with an array of age-related complaints and ailments.
Double-blind studies looking at collagen's anti-aging properties found that 2.5–5 grams of collagen hydrolysate used once a day for women aged 35–55 helped with skin elasticity, moisture, dryness and skin roughness. What's more, there didn't seem to be any obvious negative side effects at all.
Without a healthy supply of collagen, the skin loses its elasticity which can also mean more visible cellulite. While cellulite isn't always inherently unhealthy, it's definitely a bodily feature most of wouldn't mind getting rid of. A lack of collagen can also mean increasing hair loss, weakened nails, achey joints and stretch marks.
Collagen is also great for building lean muscle and burning fat, as it's extremely high in glycine which helps to to feed newly formed muscle. Glycine converts glucose into energy to form muscle tissue, helping the body stay lean and strong. It's not just handy for gym bunnies either, retaining muscle mass helps support posture and bone health as you age too.
Our bodies produce their own collagen, but incorporating it into our diet is a good idea too. Collagen also exists in products that we can consume and enjoy every day, making it easy (and tasty) to stock up on.
Believe it or not, bovine, chicken and fish-based collagens are all fantastic ways to help boost your body's own collagen production. By providing protein, they help fuel muscle and cartilage repair and in turn kick the body into full collagen making mode. Bone Broth is one of the easiest, tastiest ways to incorporate this into your diet. Use broth in soups, stews, sauces and my favourite, instead of oil to stir fry your veges.
As well as being a delicious addition to literally any meal, egg whites contain a lot of helpful collagen too. What's more, they contain active amino acids that help to build connective tissue and assist the body with natural healing. Make sure you eat the egg yolks as well though, as well as being packed full of amazing nutrients, the yolk will help the body process the white.
Natural collagen supplements
Even with a varied, balanced diet, from time-to-time an extra collagen boost works a treat. Supplements are a quick, easy way to get extra collagen onboard to help your body out. My favourite supplement to get more collagen into the diet and to improve gut health right now is Nutra Organics Collagen Beauty - totally natural and easily added to smoothies or drinks. It can help make skin noticeably more firm, reduce cellulite, slow the ageing process, increase skin moisture and even improve gut health. Another great supplement, and especially good if you're vegan is The Beauty Chef's Collagen Inner Beauty Boost. This has all the right ferments and probiotics to help your body build collagen form the inside out.
Applying collagen enhancing skin or hair products is another great way to add a bit of elasticity to certain areas - whether it's the eyes, face or the rest of the body. Here are my personal favourite collagen beauty goodies.
Snowberry is a New Zealand skincare brand that fuses nature and science to create some of the best anti-ageing serums in the world. All of their serums help to support and stimulate the skin's natural collagen production, leaving skin feeling and looking younger.
Snowberry's Super Serum stimulates the skin’s fibroblast (cells that generate connective tissue + allow skin to recover from injury) as well as boosting collagen production overall.
The New Radiance Serum is similar, stimulating the production of collagen while hydrating and moisturising at the same time.
Collagen production doesn't just help your face look younger, it can help the rest of your skin too. That's why natural beauty brands like Sans [ceuticals] produce body oils, to smooth and revitalise skin the body over.
The Sans [ceuticals] Activator 7 Body + Hair + Face Oil works all over the body and on the hair, using Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) to regulate the DNA and produce collagen more efficiently.
The Goji Cleansing Oil also contains Vitamin A, giving a collagen-boosting deep clean. The pH Perfect Body Wash cleans and boosts too, meaning you can increase your collagen levels in the shower as well as in your breakfast!
Providing your body with collagen enhancing products is a great way to help it stay young and vibrant. By focusing on it both on the inside and the outside, you can maximise all the wonderful benefits of collagen in ways that work for you.
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