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What Is Collagen and Why Do We Need It?

Collagen. It's a common word that has been thrown around the beauty industry as well as the health industry for years now. We have heard that it can provide some pretty miraculous health benefits. But what is it really? Where does it come from, and does it actually do the magical things it's supposed to? Let's find out!

Starting off with the definition can be a useful way to begin. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines collagen as "any of a group of fibrous proteins that occur in vertebrates as the chief constituent of connective tissue fibrils and in bones and yield gelatin and glue upon boiling with water." Sounds complicated right? Well, it doesn't have to be. Here's an easy guide that will help you understand collagen and why it's so beneficial to human health, youthful appearances, and overall longevity.

First of all, we will need a solid understanding of exactly what this mysterious substance is. So let's dive right in! Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and it is found in many forms. Type 1 and type 2 however, are the ones that form the bulk of the collagen that can be found in our bodies. It can be located in varying amounts amongst the bones, muscles, skin, tendons, digestive system and blood vessels of all life forms. It's literally running through us. So why do we need more of it? Because without it, not only do we feel the effects of aging in our bodies, but it actually becomes more visible to the naked eye. Collagen is what gives the body strength and elasticity, as well as replaces dead skin cells. It is literally the glue that connects and holds the body together. Hence why it is a crucial protein for us all and especially so, as we age.

Sadly, like most of the good things in our body, the amount of collagen we produce naturally begins to slow down as we age. This degenerative process can be seen in the appearance of wrinkles, sagging skin, and joint pain. However, it's not just the natural process of aging that makes this happen. Lifestyle factors can also be a significant factor. Diets that are high in sugar, as well as lifestyle choices such as smoking and overexposure to the sun all, deplete the body's collagen levels. But don't despair! Because in some ways, this loss of collagen via lifestyle choices is a great thing. Sounds counterintuitive, right? Perhaps so. But what it does mean is that we do have some amount of control. Having this control is an excellent thing because once we know how to do it right, we can influence and change the way our bodies are aging. Altering how we care for our body and making more conscious health choices will not only increase our levels of collagen but also, by default, lower our risks of injuries and diseases.

As outlined above, collagen is a protein typically made inside the body. It literally holds it together and makes it work smoothly. Under normal circumstances, the body creates enough collagen, but as you age or if you are unhealthy, then that production becomes compromised. This is when you need help from outside sources. Adding collagen to your diet through the right foods and dietary supplements will help your body regain higher levels of this incredibly complex and life-giving protein.

So, now that we know the basics, it's time to take a deeper look into the benefits of collagen and the ways to increase it in the body. As well, we will look at some interesting information about why you should use collagen in your morning coffee and exactly how to do that!

Benefits of Collagen

Gives younger-looking skin

Collagen is a natural fiber that provides the skin with it's strength and flexibility. However, as we age, our bodies' natural collagen production begins to slow down, resulting in visible fine lines and wrinkles. These first signs of aging are often enough to make people panic and begin searching for the fountain of youth. But no need to despair, because collagen is both the reason and the answer! Taking collagen supplements and eating collagen-rich foods will help plump up and smooth those nasty signs of aging and keep the skin more youthful-looking. In addition to regaining some of your youthful appearance through added collagen, it can even aid in smoothing out cellulite ridden skin. In much the same way that it fills in fine lines, it can fill in the dimples caused by cellulite.

Boosts metabolism and weight loss

Collagen can boost metabolism and help the body to burn fat at a faster rate. This is because it is a protein that provides a sense of fullness after being ingested. This feeling of fullness encourages suppression of the appetite that in turn, aids in weight loss. When you feel fuller after eating (either from collagen-rich foods or through an added supplement), you eat less and therefore help to contribute to a leaner body muscle mass. In terms of boosting the metabolism -which is our system's natural cycle of digesting food and distributing its nutrients throughout the body. Collagen contains amino acids that are important for forming muscle tissue. When muscle mass improves, metabolism does too. To learn more about this incredible protein and how it can aid in weight loss, check out this article

Strengthens Bones and Joints

When there's a higher presence of collagen in the body, it can help improve and strengthen the joints to make them more resilient to injury. It can also improve joint pain from arthritis by increasing the calcium in the bones. As we age, calcium deficiencies are more common as are fractured and broken bones, especially in the elderly. Although we are fighting a natural change in the body, there is a lot we can do to help ourselves to age more gracefully and more healthily. Being conscious of our collagen intake, either via dietary supplements and or from foods, can help us to be in control and slow down this natural process.

Better sleep habits

Do you have trouble getting a good night's sleep? If yes, you are not alone. It is said that 68% of Americans today have difficulty getting to sleep at night. And while this issue can be traced back to a multitude of lifestyle choices, an increased amount of collagen in the body can help to alleviate this issue. We know that many people have sleep deficiencies. But, a little-known fact is that there is a particular amino acid found in collagen, that actually helps to improve your sleep by facilitating the process of getting into REM sleep faster. REM is the deepest form of sleep. It's the one where you dream and where your body has the chance to rejuvenate itself completely. Waking up after REM sleep is what gives you that sense of being genuinely well-rested. And of course, better nighttime sleep can also help people experience less daytime drowsiness. Most people will agree that they need more sleep. And even if you think you're getting by alright, who could argue with better quality sleep?

Provides better gut health

A leaky gut is exactly what it sounds like; miniature holes in the lining of the digestive system. And as you can imagine, this can lead to all kinds of digestive problems. Luckily, collagen has been known to repair and strengthen the stomach lining. Increased amounts of collagen can also aid in other common digestive issues, such as acid reflux. Better gut health through added collagen in your diet improves the body's natural microbiome, which enhances just about every aspect of overall human health. This includes being clearer-headed and more focused when working. The effects of a healthy microbiome are evident in all areas of the body and mind!

Aids in hair growth and stronger nails

Last of all but by no means least! Collagen has been proven to encourage human hair to grow longer, faster, and even fuller. The same is true for nails. If you have soft or brittle nails, increased consumption of collagen will help alleviate these issues and replace them with strong, healthy nails. Another fabulous and beautiful side effect to overall body health through collagen!

Ways to Increase Collagen in Your Body

Well, let's start with the obvious things that we should be doing anyway. We know that we should be quitting smoking, making health-conscious food choices, and hydrating ourselves appropriately. It is common knowledge that all of these things are beneficial for overall health. But now we know that doing so will also increase our collagen levels too! A great added bonus!

So, now, let's take a moment to dive into exactly what you can put into your body that will increase those collagen levels. Clean eating is a concept that has been around for years but it can also be confusing with the abundant amount of information out there. So, let's keep it simple. Which foods exactly have the highest levels of collagen? The answer is quite a long list indeed! Turns out, there's a large variety from both the meat and plant-based food options.

Meat products:

  • Bone broth
  • Salmon, skin of meats such as pork and chicken
  • Egg yolks and eggshell membranes

Fruit and vegetable products

  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and Brussel sprouts
  • Kiwis
  • Berries
  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Oysters
  • Tomatoes
  • Pumpkin Seeds

With a list like this, it's easy to know what types of food can increase the collagen levels in your body!

Collagen Supplements

Collagen supplements come in many forms; powders, pills, liquids, and even snack bars. With so many options, it's easy to find the best solution for your lifestyle.

Collagen is the single most common protein in animals, and it gives structure and shape to our skin, as well as strengthen our bones and connective tissues. If you are vegetarian or vegan, there are many plant-based options of collagen supplements to choose from, as well. Powdered versions have a great advantage. You can add it to your coffee! Yes, you read that right. Your morning coffee! Collagen supplement powders are odorless, tasteless, and, therefore, an easy way to make a healthy addition to your coffee. Typically supplement powders are added to cold drinks like water. However, collagen is different. In powdered collagen, the proteins are broken down into amino acids that do not gel together. This is why it can be added to hot drinks. Not only that but adding powdered collagen to your coffee really ups the health level of your already healthy brew. Yes, coffee is healthy too! In fact, one study found that drinking two cups or more of coffee per day can increase longevity, and coffee's health benefits don't end there. And now you can make your black coffee even healthier by adding a spoonful of collagen to it!

Want to know more about the benefits of drinking black coffee?

Check out our article on this subject here 

So, with all this information on collagen and the benefits it has for the human body, what are you waiting for? Being conscious of the food you eat and making appropriate choices to increase the levels of collagen in your body is easy. Doing so is going to help you to have a more youthful appearance as you age, as well as increase your chances to have better overall health.

Collagen is a life-giving protein that is easily found in clean eating foods and in high-quality supplements. It's time to join in this incredible health movement and start adding more collagen to your diet today!

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