Primarily made up of amino acids proline, hydroxyproline, glycine, and alanine, collagen is found in our skin, bones, muscles and tendons. It’s the most abundant protein in the body and it’s what gives skin its strength and elasticity.
You’ve probably heard about one of the latest trends in health – bone broth, and one of the reasons it’s so popular is because the bones contain a lot of collagen. So, why not just drink bone broth? Bone broth is great for general, overall support for the body’s health, containing a host of important nutrients. While collagen is a protein found in bone broth, it can be isolated through hydrolyzation, which creates a more concentrated collagen powder supplement. That can be remarkably beneficial as you’ll get significantly larger doses of collagen, and its amino acids, which are outstanding for many processes throughout the body.
Our ancestors used every part of an animal back in ancient times. But today, most of us don’t take advantage of bones or anything other than muscle meat, so our modern diet is significantly lacking in collagen. And, while some may be skeptical, taking a collagen supplement isn’t just some fad without scientific backing. In fact, it offers a long list of rather surprising, and scientifically proven, benefits.
Improving Gut Health
For those who suffer from just about any digestive woe, from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis and leaky gut, taking collagen can help. It’s known to aid in healing the gut by breaking down proteins, soothing the gut lining while repairing damaged cell walls and infusing it with essential amino acids. It also works to keep things in the digestive tract moving along by helping it to absorb water.
A 2003 study from the Department of Gastroenterology at the University Hospital Heraklion in Crete, Greece, focused on individuals with IBD and found that they were more likely to have lower levels of collagen. Researchers theorized that by increasing collagen intake, it would be possible to build up tissues lining the gastrointestinal tract to improve gut health.
Supporting Weight Loss
As collagen is an excellent source of protein, it can help support weight loss efforts. That’s because consuming more protein during meals is known to be more satisfying, keeping one feeling fuller longer as many studies have shown. In turn, that can reduce overall food intake resulting in greater weight loss.
As collagen is a major component in muscle tissue, it also has a significant impact when it comes to building muscle mass. With more muscle, more calories are burned, even when performing simple, every day tasks and at rest. While the research is limited on exercising while taking collagen, a 2015 study out of Germany looked at older males with a condition called sarcopenia, which causes the loss of muscle mass. After the participants took collagen supplements for 12 weeks, coupled with resistance training, they experienced improved muscle strength and increased fat loss.
Enhancing Athletic Performance
Glycine and proline, two of the amino acids in collagen, are known to aid in lowering inflammation, repairing tissue, decreasing recovery time after exercise and speeding healing in sports-related injuries. Research has uncovered that taking a collagen supplement helps to reduce the risk of muscle, tendon and ligament injuries in athletes. The amino acid arginine that it contains is known to stimulate the release of growth hormone in the pituitary gland which helps to build muscle mass, while its arginine and glycine content can help improve athletic performance while aiding in restoring and maintaining muscle mass.
You’re probably aware by now that getting seven or eight hours of sleep each night is important for your good health, but somehow life always seems to get in the way. Even if that’s not the problem, lots of people have difficulty falling and/or staying asleep for a myriad of different reasons. When you don’t get enough quality rest on a regular basis, it can result in all sorts of health issues, from depression and weight gain to a higher risk of diabetes and even heart disease.
As collagen contains a high level of glycine, and glycine is known to promote better sleep while reducing stress, taking it before bedtime can help you get the sleep you need to maintain your good health. It may also help to reduce sleepiness during the day and improve memory as well.
It may not be as surprising that collagen can help you have healthier skin as it’s often marketed as the “ultimate anti-aging product.” The reason behind that is our bodies begin to produce less and less collagen as we age, as Scientific American explains, at a rate of around 1% each year starting at around the time we reach 25 years old. By the time we’re 50, very little collagen is produced, and when collagen levels in the skin are low, it can cause it to wrinkle, look dull and droopy. Taking collagen can help to improve elasticity in the skin, regenerate skin cells and produce smoother, more supple, healthier looking skin.
Those who exercise usually put a lot of pressure on the joints but taking a collagen supplement can help improve resilience to keep those joints strong. When collagen levels in the body are reduced as we age, our bones become more brittle, cartilage wears and joints may swell, feel stiffer and ache. It may not be as easy to move as it once was. With higher levels of collagen, our joints can move more easily again, pain is eased, and the risk of deterioration is reduced too. Research conducted out of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, showed that taking collagen was even effective for treating osteoarthritis and other joint conditions.