Collagen is the new trend in health and wellness circles and for good reasons. Recent studies show that collagen is one of the most abundant parts of the human body, making up almost 30% of its overall structure.
Collagen is a protein that plays a huge role in building the bones, cartilage, hair, skin and nails. Most people prefer to supplement with collagen by drinking it because it’s a convenient and widely available option. However, it’s worth asking: are collagen drinks as beneficial to health as we’ve been lead to believe? Read on to find out.
Here’s What Happens
When you drink collagen, your digestive system transforms the protein into essential amino acids which are then absorbed into the body through the intestinal wall. From there, the amino acids travel through the portal circulation all the way to the liver, which immediately converts them into proteins and/or usable energy. As such, collagen drinks essentially provide the body with amino acids, not collagen.
You can get amino acids into your system by eating a healthy balanced diet but if you want to synthesise collagen into your body from an external source then you’ll have to accompany it with a quality vitamin C supplement.
How Collagen Works
Most people who take collagen don’t take it as a protein supplement. However, there are some athletes who periodically use collagen as a source of protein instead of protein powder. In all fairness, collagen is a form of protein that’s easily absorbed into the body and it’s super easy to take. So it’s easy to see why it would be an attractive substitute for your normal protein powder.
The dosage recommendation will be different for everyone because it really depends on your level of activity. Also, before you take collagen as part of your daily protein requirement, remember that the American population is already consuming too much protein according to research. So perhaps it’s best to take it in moderation.
As we get older, our natural stores of collagen begin to wane, causing health conditions like arthritis and uncomfortable joint pain. Collagen is a great way to boost natural collagen levels and promote graceful ageing.
Aside from being a protein source, collagen has a slew of other benefits like restoring gut health. This is thanks to the detox-promoting glycine amino acid within collagen, which also assists with metabolic function. Proponents of the Paleo diet are some of the biggest supporters of the collagen drinking trend because they believe it provides superior gut healing properties. Plus it’s easily accessible and digestible through bone broth.
Then there are those who claim that collagen has the ability to prevent skin ageing. Truth be told, there’s no empirical scientific evidence behind this claim. What we do know is that collagen is a protein and as such it gets digested by the body in the same way as other proteins.
Instead of drinking collagen in order to reverse or prevent ageing, nutritionists recommend eating a well-balanced diet that’s rich in collagen promoting nutrients like vitamin C and glycine. Vitamin C is abundant in dark leafy green vegetables while glycine can be found in mushrooms, gelatin, wheat germ, dairy and eggs.
This will help the body build up its own collagen stores naturally which is much better than drinking it externally. If your goal is to slow down skin ageing, consider drinking more water, avoid sugary foods, inflammation causing foods, cigarettes, alcohol and use sunscreen. Applying these practices will give you youthful and glowing skin for longer.
Also, keep in mind that collagen supplements aren’t exactly regulated and most of the evidence available on them is anecdotal. Of course, there’s no harm in trying out a collagen supplement, but remember that you’re doing so at your own risk.
As with anything, consistency is key when you want to see positive results from drinking collagen. It’s not a silver bullet that’s just going to fix all of your health issues and eliminate all of your wrinkles. In order to reap the health benefits offered by collagen, you need to take it in conjunction with a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise.