One of the Trendiest Health Products of 2018 – Collagen. What is it and what makes it so great?
It seems like everyone is talking about collagen these days, and it you walk into any health food store, you’ll notice there are many different collagen products on the market. While it’s easy to get caught up with the newest, trendiest products, it’s always important to do a little research first.
I was first introduced to collagen about two years ago, when a colleague of mine (now a great friend) started adding a spoonful of it to her morning coffee every day. As someone who is living with Crohn’s disease, my friend is extremely cautious about what she consumes, and uses a select few supplements to support and strengthen her digestive system - collagen being one of them. It was after watching her incorporate it into her daily routine that made me want to research it for myself.
What is Collagen?
As we age, our body loses its ability to make collagen, causing this essential protein to break down. Loss of this essential protein leads to a collapsing dermal layer, which is why our skin develops wrinkles, our hair becomes thinner and dull, joints stiffen and become less flexible, and bones weaken and become more brittle.
Collagen is a protein made up of long chains of amino acids. It is the most abundant protein in the body, and is essential to the function of blood vessels, bones, ligaments, joints, muscles, and of course, skin. Think of collagen as the “glue” that holds everything together; it provides strength and structure for our connective tissues.
Why do we need Collagen?
As mentioned, collagen is an important ingredient for the heath and maintenance of our skin, joints and gut, but it also does more than that. Collagen has also been shown to assist with other bodily functions, like energy levels, mood and appetite. When collagen is abundant, our system is working seamlessly to rejuvenate our skin, tissues and joints, and we experience a truly restorative sleep. When it’s not, we can quickly notice the effects in the way we look, and in particular in the way we feel.
The amazing thing about collagen – and one of the main reasons it is such a trendy health product right now – is because it actually works! Research has shown that when ingested, collagen gets absorbed in the gut, and gets delivered to wherever it is needed most in the body. Collagen is proving to be a very effective way to get amazing health benefits, such as increasing bone density (very important, especially for women), improving cardiovascular health and more.
10 Most Important Health Benefits of Collagen
1. Increases Skin Elasticity – By replenishing the connective tissues, skin maintains its ability to stretch structurally without remaining slack. Our body uses collagen to rejuvenate this structure, giving our skin the ability to ‘bounce back’.
2. Reduces Appearance of Cellulite and Stretch Marks – As collagen levels drop, skin becomes thinner. This causes the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks to become more dramatic. Skin with a healthy amount of collagen has a firm structure and is less prone to collapsing into cellulite.
3. Manages Inflammation – Studies have shown that glycine, one of the key amino acids in collagen supplements, works to reduce inflammation.
4. Improves Quality of Sleep – As talked about in this HIH blog post, sleep is incredibly important for everything from metabolic function to healing and mental health. Good news is, studies have shown that glycine, found within collagen, improves the overall quality of sleep.
5. Eases Anxiety – Glycine is also an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means that it’s a natural way to calm the brain and create balance.
6. Decreases Joint Pain – Collagen has been shown to reduce the risk of joint deterioration, regenerate cartilage and improve joint pain.
7. Balances Appetite – As collagen is a protein, it is not surprising that many people report feeling full for longer after consuming it in the morning. Stir a spoonful in your morning coffee and see how you your appetite feels throughout the morning.
8. Improves Digestion – Collagen can help to support the lining of the gut, which results in a wide range of benefits, like improved digestion, nutrient absorption and even a lighter, brighter mood.
9. Kickstarts Energy Levels – Research has also shown that glycine can also boost metabolism and energy levels.
10. Improves Mood – This might go without saying, but when you feel better, you are better. Collagen has been scientifically linked to a wide range of granular benefits, the overall result of which is a boost in quality of life.
How to use Collagen
Now that you’ve read all those amazing benefits of collagen, you’re probably wondering how to incorporate it into your routine. The good news is, due to the nature of collagen, it’s very easy to use. If you purchase unflavoured collagen (like this one I use), you can simply stir it into your hot coffee or tea every morning, or add a spoonful of it to your daily smoothie. If you wanted to get a little fancier, you can try adding it to your favourite recipes. Sproos Life has some great recipes, and tons of more information about the health benefits of collagen, here on their blog.