It seems like there’s a nutritional or supplement trend popping up every month! I’m always interested in the latest on nutrition, but never sure if it’s something I need? I mean there’s only so much in the budget, right?
Collagen is one of those natural wellness solutions that seems to be everywhere. Here’s an easy-to-read guide on the health benefits of collagen plus some natural ways to incorporate it in your diet.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found naturally in your body. It’s made up of amino acids – glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, glutamine and arginine. All of which help our body’s connective tissue, skin, hair, nails, and gut stay healthy. Collagen protein is different than whey and casein protein because of the high levels of amino acids. Collagen also helps hair shine; skin glow and nails stay strong.
Top 7 Health Benefits of Collagen
Improves Skin Health
Collagen decreases as we age – you’re probably even losing it now as you read this! You might start to see: looser skin, more wrinkles and less elasticity. Increasing collagen levels can help your skin look firmer and smoother. It can even help renew your skin by encouraging cellular growth and repair.
Have you ever woken up with stiff joints or even pain when you move? That’s the feeling of collagen loss that comes with aging, darn it! Collagen is the WD-40 for your joints. Increasing collagen in your diet can help your joints move more easily and eliminate some of the pain. Studies show taking Type 2 collagen helped rheumatoid arthritis patients decrease pain in the joints. Another study showed how collagen can reduce osteoarthritic joint pain in athletes.
Helps Leaky Gut
Leaky Gut is a condition where harmful toxins are able to pass through the intestinal walls causing various autoimmune illnesses and other health issues. The biggest benefit of collagen is it can help form connective tissue in the gut that seals the “holes” and heals the gut lining so toxins can no longer leak in. Collagen also helps with water absorption in the intestine so things can move more easily through and out of the body.
Improves Heart Health
I’m sure we all care about heart health! The arginine in the collagen is a vasodilator meaning it dilates your blood vessels for better circulation or blood flow. Proline helps minimize fat buildup in the arteries, encourages growth and repair, and is linked with preventing plaque buildup. All good things for a healthy heart.
Improves Liver Health
Whether you’re ready to detox because you’re back from a bender in Mexico or you’re just feeling like jump starting your system, collagen to the rescue! Glycine in collagen helps minimize the damage done in your liver by alcohol or other toxins that are passing through your liver and probably shouldn’t be…at least in those amounts! Studies have even shown glycine can help alleviate alcohol induced damage already done to the liver and other forms of acute liver issues.
Strengthens Nails, Teeth & Hair
We talked about hair already, but did you know collagen is also the powerhouse behind strong hair, nails and teeth? A study showed that oral supplementation of collagen peptides resulted in an increase of 12% nail growth rate and a decrease of 42% in the frequency of broken nails. Another study showed there is a relationship between the extracellular matrix and hair follicle regeneration, suggesting that collagen could be beneficial for hair loss and other skin issues.
5 Natural Ways to Increase Collagen in the Body
So, this is interesting…your body has cells that destroy collagen and other cells that create new collagen. Healthy collagen depends on this cycle continuing in order to keep your collagen “fresh”. When your body destroys collagen, it can be repurposed to make new collagen and so on.
So, an optimal collagen increasing strategy would focus on:
- Stimulating the Natural Collagen Cycle – It’s inexpensive and safe to stimulate your own collagen cycle.
- Protecting Existing Collagen from Being Destroyed – Environmental damage worsens the collagen destruction cycle.
Most people like the idea of buying a collagen supplement to “increase collagen” but, there are some inexpensive things you can do “consistently” to increase you own collagen cycle. Takes a little discipline but so worth it!
1. Get At Least 8 Hours of Sleep Every Night
Studies have found a connection between sleep and the production of human growth hormone (HGH). Since HGH is known for stimulating collagen production, sleep is necessary for the body to repair, rebuild and refresh your skin and collagen. We’ve all heard sleep is the ultimate anti-aging solution, now you know why!
2. Gelatin Bone Broth
There’s a difference when it comes to bone broth supplements and the real thing. A real bone broth where you allow the bones to soak for 8 hours or more will allow the collagen to release from the bones. Then the heat and water break it down further into a gelatin your body can more easily absorb.
3. HIIT Training or Weight Training
Exercise also stimulates the production of human growth hormone, just like sleep. HIIT training and weight lifting for large muscle groups or doing compound exercises like squats, rows or deadlifts are all especially effective at producing HGH which in turn stimulates collagen production.
4. Red Light/Infrared Light Therapy
Studies are increasingly showing that red LED light therapy and Infrared light therapy increases collagen production in the skin and joints.
Red LED light therapy (RLT) – Red light of a particular wavelength creates healing benefits for the skin, which can increase collagen production, reduce acne or other skin issues, and even treat scars and stretch marks. LED red light therapy stimulates fibroblasts to produce collagen while decreasing the enzymes that then break it down.
Infrared light therapy – Infrared penetrates the skin and goes to a deeper level than red light to stimulate collagen production in the muscles, bones and joints.
5. Saunas and Steam Heat Therapy
Another study among many shows that saunas help increase HGH and therefore collagen levels. Combine that dry sauna heat with infrared heat and now you’re taking HGH production to a whole new level.
6. Collagen Peptide Supplements
Last, you can enhance your collagen levels with a collagen peptide supplement. There are many high-quality peptide supplements out there. I’ve had great results with the grass fed collagen from Thrive Market. But always, check with your doctor before adding supplements to your regimen!
The health benefits of collagen are amazing including healthier skin, gut repair, alleviating joint pain, heart health and liver detox. The great news is there are some easy and inexpensive things you can easily include in your day to day to start increasing your collagen levels and realize those health benefits.
What health benefit of collagen could you use the most?