When you hear the word collagen, your mind may jump to the beauty aisle of your local drugstore… or, perhaps more likely, a visual of someone receiving collagen injections. But what, exactly, is collagen, and how can you reap the benefits without needing a plastic surgeon?
Here’s the deal: The protein collagen makes up about 30% of the total protein in your body; it provides structural support, strength, and elasticity to the bones and connective tissue, and it serves as the most helpful kind of “glue” in the human body. Our bodies’ production of collagen, however, begins to naturally decline with age, usually starting in our twenties (!) and leading, in turn, to dry skin, brittle bones, wrinkles, frown lines and the weakening of cartilage in joints. (Good times, right?)
Now, collagen, like all protein, is made up of amino acids — nine of which are essential, and must be acquired through diet, as they cannot be synthesized by the body. Meaning that eating collagen will give you the most bang for your buck. Thankfully, there are powdered collagen protein products that can be added to said diet for a nutritional boost (we like Vital Proteins) and, even more thankfully, these powdered collagen proteins are usually tasteless and odorless. There are also several dietary nutrients that support collagen formation, such as:
- Proline, found in egg whites, meat and cabbage
- Anthocyanidins, found in blackberries, blueberries, cherries and raspberries
- Vitamin C, found in oranges, strawberries, peppers and broccoli
- Vitamin A, found in animal-derived foods and plant foods, such as beta-carotene
Now, here’s the why (as in why you should care about getting enough collagen): It strengthens hair, skin, teeth and nails. It aids in gut reconditioning. It helps the body detox by releasing that which does not serve it, and it’s good for your joints post-workout. Check, check, check and check.
Our recommendation? Skip the chemical-laden beauty products — and the trips to the plastic surgeon — and beautify yourself from the inside out by nourishing your body with real food.
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