Collagen and your skin - everything you need to know
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By Herbalife Nutrition South Africa
Collagen is one of the hottest topics in wellness at the moment. It’s attributed with the ability to rejuvenate our skin, strengthen our bones, and add youthful flexibility to our joints.
Numerous powders, creams, and supplements containing collagen beckon to us from the shelves of stores, glossy magazines, and e-commerce stores.
Let’s find out what all the fuss is about and whether collagen really is all it’s made out to be.
What is collagen?
Collagen’s essentially a protein created inside the human body. It’s made by breaking dietary protein down into amino acids and then rebuilding them into forms of protein the body can use.
This protein is an important building block for connective tissues, bones, muscles, teeth, ligaments, tendons, and the skin. It’s essentially the ‘glue’ that holds our bodies together – that’s a lot of work for one substance! Collagen exists in vast amounts throughout the human body, comprising about one third of our bodies’ total protein.
The trouble with collagen is that our bodies start to produce less of it as we age, and it’s vulnerable to environmental factors, like pollution. Collagen molecules band together to form a mesh-like network in the second layer of our skin – and when this network degrades, the structure of the skin starts to sag.
So, if you’ve noticed that your skin’s looking a little lacklustre lately, additional collagen could be the solution. The question is, what’s the best way to help our bodies increase collagen production?
How to increase your body’s collagen levels
Since collagen is obtained through our food, it makes sense that certain foods or supplements could help our bodies manufacture more of this important protein. Consuming more protein will help your body produce more collagen, however, more protein doesn’t automatically translate into increased collagen production.
We can’t control what our bodies do with the foods we put into them. So, the best way to ensure optimum collagen levels is to follow a healthy diet with varied sources of protein, ensuring that dietary protein isn’t diverted elsewhere.
The benefits of collagen supplements
Supplements containing collagen can help boost production if you’re lacking the building blocks your body uses to make this useful protein. If you want to take a supplement to increase collagen production, always choose one that’s been clinically tested and proven to deliver results.
Studies show that a good supplement can have several positive benefits for your health and appearance, including:
- Improved skin elasticity and health
- The relief of joint pain and inflammation
- A possible increase in bone density
- Promoting the synthesis of muscle proteins to boost muscle mass
- Supporting artery structure to promote heart health
- The prevention of brittle nails
Currently, studies are also underway to investigate the role of collagen in our gut and brain health.
Foods that help your body produce collagen
Some foods naturally contain collagen and support your body’s ability to produce it.
If you want to follow a collagen-boosting diet, it’s important to consume a variety of unprocessed, wholesome foods containing high quantities of the following:
- Vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium
Vitamin C deserves a special mention since it’s vital for the formation and absorption of collagen. You can get this vitamin easily through supplements or capsules, or direct from the source by consuming strawberries, oranges, peppers, broccoli, cranberries, and other fruits.
Some of the best things to eat if you want to increase your collagen levels include:
- Bone broth
- Poultry and eggs
- Oxtail and tripe
There are many forms of collagen and they’re all equally important for optimum health. As such, a varied diet is important to ensure you get the correct doses of all the collagen your body needs.
A healthy, balanced diet supported by high-quality nutritional supplements is the best tonic for optimum vitality.