Understanding The Collagen Craze
You have probably heard of collagen here and there, possibly from friends or co-workers, but what exactly is it? The collagen you see in stores, particularly health food stores or even online, is a powdered form of collagen that you already have in your body.
Why do you need a collagen supplement? Because it can break down in your body over time, which might cause symptoms like joint pain, premature signs of aging skin, and gut health issues.
What Exactly is Collagen?
First thing’s first – let’s discuss what collagen is. This is a type of protein in your body that exists to help keep tissues together. It is often found in parts of the body where you have connective tissues, such as your joints, muscles, and even your skin and scalp.
Since it can break down over time and production can slow as we age, you might want to supplement with a powdered form of collagen, which is easy to use and due to its popularity, easy to find.
What Can it do For You?
1. Healthy Skin and Hair
You might have heard about collagen when doing research on anti-aging, or wondering why at a relatively young age, you are showing signs of aging like looser skin and wrinkles.
The reason may be lack of collagen. Yes, collagen is found in your connective tissues like your joints, but did you know it can also be found in your skin? It helps with the outer layer of skin, which is usually elastic in order to remain tight.
However, when you start losing collagen, the elasticity goes with it. As your skin loosens – even before you see a big difference – you start to get wrinkles and lines.
Collagen for Your Skin
What you might not know is that some signs of aging are not permanent. If you have wrinkles and lines due to a loss of elasticity in your skin, finding a way to tighten it up just might reverse the signs of aging, allowing you to age more gracefully.
This is what collagen can do for you.
When you start using collagen on a daily basis, it can not only help with your skin’s elasticity, but it can also help you to retain more moisture in your skin, which as you know, is vital to protecting your skin from premature signs of aging.
Collagen for Your Hair
Before moving on to the next health benefit, you should know that collagen might also help with your hair. Your skin needs collagen, but that is not just on your face and body; don’t forget your scalp is skin too. You need to take good care of it just like your face, otherwise you might experience dry scalp, itching, breakage, and even thinning of your hair.
If you notice issues with your hair texture or the thickness, it might be due to needing more collagen. So, while you are using collagen to help your skin and other health conditions, you could also get the added benefit of increasing hair growth as well.
2. Stronger Nails
Collagen can also help with your nail condition, most notably if you struggle with weak, chipped, and cracking nails. This is not usually a sign of not taking good care of them on the outside, but more about your health in general.
Issues with your health affects so many things, so when something is weak and brittle, like your nails, it is often a sign you are missing an important nutrient.
How Does Collagen Help?
With a collagen supplement, you are helping to provide essential nutrients and amino acids to your nails. This can help them strengthen, which greatly reduces the risk of having them break in the future. It is similar to the effect of using biotin for hair, skin, and nails.
Keep in mind that you might not notice these changes for several weeks, so keep using your collagen daily – you will soon notice a difference.
3. Improved Digestion and Gut Health
Gut health is another big topic for the health industry lately. Why? It is not an increase in people’s digestive issues, but more an increase in what scientists have discovered, as well as more natural and home remedies to help with your gut.
Collagen for Your Gut Health
Collagen can help many gut conditions, but it has been especially useful with leaky gut syndrome. When you have leaky gut, nutrients are passing right through your body, without being properly absorbed. This along with many negative side effects like nausea, upset stomach, fatigue, and bloating, can make life extremely difficult to deal with.
When you start taking collagen each day, you might notice a difference in how your stomach feels. Maybe you don’t have as much diarrhea and constipation, or you experience a relief in the bloating you have been dealing with.
Another good thing about collagen for gut health is that you might not need as much of the supplement for your gut. While you can still use the powdered form of collagen, you might also see benefits with bone broth.
How to Know Your Gut Needs Help?
For some people, they either don’t notice little changes with their digestive health, or it has been going on so long, they didn’t realize there was something they could do about it.
Have you ever told people you “just have a sensitive stomach?” It is very possible that this is true, but you might also have a gut that just needs a little TLC. Symptoms like constant nausea, constipation and diarrhea, stomach cramps, bloating, and just overall discomfort of the belly are not normal, and most likely related to a gut condition.
4. Reduced Joint Pain
You need collagen in your body as it helps with the connective tissues like tendons and ligaments, so what happens when it starts breaking down? You start feeling the pain in certain areas of your body.
If you have noticed an increase in joint pain recently, such as stiffness in your joints when getting up or bending your knees, or just general joint pain, it might be from a loss of collagen.
The collagen in your body is in a gel-like form, similar to gelatin. This helps your bones and joints to work together, gliding from one position to another, without incident. When you feel stiffness, pain, or hear creaking when moving your arms or legs, this could be from not having enough of that collagen to move things along.
Not only can collagen supplements help with joint pain and stiffness you are already experiencing, but some studies are being done to show a positive effect in preventing or reducing the risk of degenerative diseases.
5. Protection of Bone and Muscle Health
Did You Know?
Your bones are actually made up primarily of collagen. This is what makes your bones so strong and able to withstand a lot of weight and pressure. As you age, the collagen gradually breaks down and deteriorates, which is why you become at greater risk for bone-related conditions like osteoporosis.
It can also mean a higher risk of breaking bones even in minor accidents that previously would not have caused such a serious injury.
In order to protect your bones, you need to be sure you have enough collagen production in your body, which sometimes means using a collagen supplement.
Improve Your Muscle Mass
The other benefit is that it might help boost your muscle mass. Muscles also have a high amount of the collagen protein in them, so it makes sense that you would lose muscle mass as you lose collagen in your body. As you age, it becomes even more important to take a collagen supplement.
Natural Ways to Get More Collagen
If you are not interested in using a collagen supplement, there are a few ways to boost collagen and reduce the breaking down of collagen your body already has. This includes:
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Eating nutrient-rich foods, especially leafy greens, citrus fruits, veggies, and wild-caught salmon.
- Quitting smoking and other unhealthy habits.
- Protecting your skin when out in the sun.
If you are doing all of these things, you should be doing what you can naturally without adding in a collagen supplement. You can also start with bone broth, which also has a good amount, but you will get a lot more collagen protein by just using a powdered collagen like collagen peptides. Remember that gelatin also provides some of the same health benefits, but again, you get the highest concentrated amount with the powdered collagen supplement.