- The Role of Collagen In Your Body
The Role of Collagen In Your Body
Collagen – ever heard of it? No, its some weird substance that you should be avoiding, in fact, it’s a substance already in your body and in most cases – already in your diet.
Collagen is actually a structural protein. By this, we mean that it essentially holds things together. Things like skin, hair, nails and other soft tissue. Without collagen your body would take on the common effects of ageing very quickly – this is why many people use collagen products for skin care.
With that said collagen cannot reverse the biological clock – it simply helps you with the appearance of looking younger. This is an important point that we needed to get out of the way right from the get-go.
Collagen is not some secret pseudo-science that will help you to become immortal – unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that.
So, if collagen is not some secret substance that everyone should be taking, why has it become so important? Why have you heard people, friends, family – telling you that you need to use it because it changed their appearance?
Listen, we’re not here to tell you that your girlfriends were lying to you, we’re here to shed some truth on what collagen is, and what role it can really play in your lifestyle.
What is Collagen
Collagen is a structural protein and it is actually found in most cells but is generally found in very high amounts in cells like skin, hair and nails. For this reason, many people who eat a diet rich in animal proteins like chicken, beef, fish and other meats where the skin is intact will be eating some collagen already.
With that said, some of the highest levels of collagen which can be obtained through your diet will come from plant sources.
Foods like fruit, vegetables and soy contain the highest sources of collagen behind fish.
Those who have a well-balanced diet – especially one that simulates an eastern diet with lots of vegetables and some fish will see very good skin health (probably why much of the east live so long).
This might have you thinking – “okay, but how do I absorb it”? Well, collagen is absorbed like many other substances when you eat it, but it doesn’t go straight to work like some cream would on your skin.
When we ask the question of what collagen is the first idea that comes to mind is a serum that is applied to instantly help refresh and revitalize the skin.
The reality is that collagen is a substance that we all have in our bodies, and most of us will be coming through our diet. The question is then – will using more collagen really help to refresh and revitalize the skin or is this just an empty money pit?
Why You Should Use Collagen Products
There is no sure-fire product that can help make you look younger, and nothing we have today will actually reverse your biological clock, but using a collagen supplement may be the closest thing you can use to improve skin and hair health.
Here are some important facts you should know about collagen:
- Some forms of collagen (gram for gram) are actually stronger than steel!
- Collagen can start to decline as a result of many issues, but the main ones are age, sun exposure and smoking
- Collagen dressings are the most effective way for your body to absorb the nutrients through the skin
- Collagen proteins make up ⅓ of all the protein molecules in your body
- Collagen provides strength and elasticity to the skin
Okay, now that we have a basic understanding of what collagen is and how it works, let’s get into why you should take it.
Helps to Replace Dead Cells
In the dermis or the middle layer of skin, collagen helps form a fibrous network of cells called fibroblasts, upon which new cells can grow. It also plays a role in replacing and restoring dead skin cells. This means collagen could be your best bet at healing faster from soft tissue injuries, but can also help with wrinkles and other skin defects.
Age Determines Collagen Production
As we age, the body starts to decrease the amount of total collagen that is produced. This causes the common visual characteristics we see of dry, wrinkly and sometimes saggy skin as we age. Remember, collagen is responsible for the strength and elasticity of your skin. Loss of collagen can even result in a major decrease in joint cartilage as the strength will start to decrease, weakening your joint health.
Drastically Declines After Menopause
It is well known that your body will start to drastically reduce the amount of collagen that is produced after menopause. Women who have experienced menopause could look to collagen supplements to assist them in looking and feeling younger.
How to Prevent Collagen Loss
It’s all well and good to say why collagen is important but what about how you can prevent these issues from arising. Here are some of the best ways to prevent collagen loss.
Always Exercise A Healthy Diet
This is the biggest asset you can have when you are trying to prevent losses in collagen. Like we said earlier, a diet that influences lots of fruit, vegetables and fish can help to drastically increase your collagen production. In fact, foods like berries and citrus fruits are some of the best foods for getting a ton of collagen for loss prevention.
Reduce Your Processed Sugar Consumption
A diet that is high in processed sugars has been shown time and time again to have some major detriments to your health – including restricting the amount of collagen your body can produce. High sugar consumption leads to more glycation, which can make collagen dry, brittle and much weaker.
Restrict Smoking and Sun Exposure
We touched on this before, but it important to hit the nail on the head and address all the issues with having healthy collagen levels. Avoiding long exposure to the sun and limiting if not restricting your consumption of products like cigarettes can make a huge difference when you look at collagen health.
The Role of Collagen In Your Body: Why You Should Take It
Collagen is an important nutrient that we all need to have in our body, but it should be known that a reduction of collagen past the age of 50-60 is completely normal.
As we age, the body becomes less and less perfect and more cells begin to die – this is just biology. Yes, collagen creams and wraps can have a small impact on your skin health, but when it comes to actually put years on your life, nothing will do better than a well-balanced diet.
Avoiding high sugar foods and eating a traditional eastern or Mediterranean diet will go a long way when it comes to your overall health, skin quality and vitality.
Gabriello is a writer and strength expert best known for his science-based and practical approach to Exercise Physiology, Nutrition and Strength. After serving in a directors position for The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Gabriello moved towards writing to help more people understand the importance of living a healthy life. Gabriello’s writings have been published in several languages on some of the largest health and fitness websites helping people learn, grow and understand the complex components of optimizing human performance in a simplistic way.
Gabriello also takes on specialized, high-performance athletes who are in need of strength, mobility and conditioning programming to optimize their fitness through his Earned Fitness program.
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