7 Ways Collagen Can Help Reverse Your Age

Last updated on : August 13 2020

Close up of a baby asleep with perfect skin

Collagen and Ageing

If you're into beauty and skincare, you may have seen collagen supplements around, as well as manufacturers claiming that taking collagen can smooth wrinkles, boost firmness, and increase elasticity.

Unfortunately, no matter how well you eat, as the years go by, the body starts developing less and less collagen.

That's why it's much more efficient to take collagen peptides that your body can incorporate to make the collagen-based parts of your body such as connective tissue, cartilage, joint tissue, skin, hair, and nails.

So much of the body relies on this collagen matrix as a structure and support system, and if you don't get enough of it, your body's structural integrity starts to weaken.  

What Happens When You Eat Collagen?

Eating collagen is said to provide the body with the building blocks it needs to produce more collagen.

Unfortunately, you have very little control over what your body does with the things you eat. Eating plants doesn't mean you end up green, with an ability to photosynthesize and make food from sunshine, for example.

Of course, this is an oversimplification of things, but consider this; in your stomach and small intestine, some enzymes are designed to break up proteins like collagen into smaller fragments that are easier to absorb into your body. This process means that most of the time, when you eat a protein, it'll get broken up, and your body won't be able to tell which protein you've eaten.

However, what makes collagen unique is the fact that it contains a particular amino acid called hydroxyproline. This amino acid goes straight to your bloodstream, making it easier for your body to distinguish that you've eaten collagen so that you can put it to good use.

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What is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein, which means that it's a long chain of amino acids chemically joined together. But, collagen is a unique protein that's part of the extracellular matrix or the "scaffolding" that holds the cells in your body together.

You find collagen n the bones, tendons, and tissue. In your skin, collagen lives in the lower layer called the dermis, and it gives your skin structure and elasticity, which translates to a bouncy texture.

Also, most collagen supplements contain hydrolyzed collagen that includes peptides and dipeptides. What does this mean? Well, because collagen is a huge protein molecule, it often has to be hydrolyzed or broken down into small peptide chunks that make it easier for it to make it through your digestive tract into the bloodstream.

That way, it can reach your joints and skin where it's needed.

7 Ways Collagen Can Help Reverse Aging

Collagen is well-known for its ability to strengthen hair, skin, and nails. This ability makes it an ideal supplement for someone with brittle hair nails that break off all the time.

It can also rejuvenate dry, dull, and aging skin so that it's more radiant and glowy.

Collagen is the main structural protein found in the extracellular matrix in connective tissue, so it can also help to fortify the joints and bones.

Read on to find out more about all the age-defying benefits of collagen.

1. Collagen Can Help to Improve Joint Pain

Inflammation triggers joint pain and depletes proteoglycans. This depletion makes it challenging to recover after workouts and for collagen to do its job as you get older. A lot of the joint pain that we encounter includes a degenerative bone disease or a degeneration of the cartilage itself from overuse.

Collagen consumption accumulates collagen in the joints and stimulates the natural production of collagen to build cartilage.

One study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry gave 2 grams of collagen or a placebo to 80 test subjects. The test subjects were people that had experienced severe joint pain for at least three months or longer.

They found at the end of the 70-day study that they had improvements in their joint pain by day 35. Collagen itself didn't solve the problem but activated the body's natural processes so that it can do what it does best; heal itself.

2. It Can Improve the Skin

As you get older, your skin produces less collagen. Experts estimate that skin collagen drops by about 1% per year during your 20s. By the time you hit your 40s, it declines at a much more rapid rate.

There's also a change in the types of collagen in your skin, where you end up with thin, wrinkly skin that's more prone to damage.

Damage from the environment can also destroy collagen. Sun exposure and smoking are especially harmful. That's why sun-damaged skin looks older, and why sunscreen is so important.

If your skin is losing elasticity and you're experiencing a lot of wrinkles, you might benefit from taking an oral collagen supplement. The collagen protein mainly affects the dermis part of the skin, which gives your body additional strength and beauty. The dermis is the layer underneath the epidermis.

A study published in the Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, involving 114 women aged between 45 and 65, asked the participants to consume 2 ½ grams of collagen or a placebo for eight weeks.

At the end of 8 weeks, the group that took collagen had 20% fewer wrinkles. There was also a 65% increase in procollagen type 1, which is what stimulates the natural production of collagen while increasing elastin.

In one study by a supplement company, asked volunteers to take 5 grams of hydrolyzed collagen made from fish cartilage every day along with other vitamins and minerals. After 60 days, dryness, wrinkles, and the depth of the nasolabial fold (the groove between your nose and check) improved. After 12 weeks, ' collagen density and skin firmness also enhanced.

In another study, volunteers took either a daily supplement containing 2 ½ grams of collagen peptides or a placebo for eight weeks. There were improvements in eye wrinkles as well as procollagen and elastin content of the dermis after the eight weeks. The trial was run independently by a University, and the same supplement improved skin elasticity four weeks after the volunteers stopped taking it.

3. It Helps to Balance Hormones

Collagen has a significant impact on our hormones. It helps modulate estrogen within the body, especially in women. It helps to activate estrogen receptors, which take the estrogen flowing throughout the body, putting it to use so that we don't have an excess. This process helps to prevent water retention and combat free radical effects.

4. Collagen Promotes Muscle Recovery

While collagen is not a substitute for a protein powder, it can be a useful addition to it.

A study published in the Journal Europe PMC took someone that had a muscle rupture injury and found collagen synthesis increases dramatically after the injury. This result means that the body creates a natural demand for collagen as a result of the damage.

The study shows that there's an increase in a type of collagen known as "type 3" specifically in the site of the injury to aid in initial recovery. Weeks later, the body exhibited a demand for type 1 collagen.

This study shows that collagen is not just useful for post-workout recovery but is needed to support the overall recovery effect continuously.

5. Collagen Positively Affects the Brain

If you're concerned about Alzheimer's, dementia, or any other neurodegenerative condition, you'll be glad to know that collagen can block the beta-amyloid plaque that affects neurotransmitters.

Why is this important? Well, with Alzheimer's, you have a situation where you have a considerable build-up of beta-amyloid plaque that blocks the signal, leading to memory loss and dementia. In contrast, collagen seems to form these chunks that prevent the beta-amyloid plaque from clogging the neuron.

Read More: The MIND Diet Is Scientifically Proven To Reduce The Risk Of Alzheimer's

6. Collagen Helps With Sleep Issues

A lot of people have a hard time falling and staying asleep as they get older because their core body temperature gets out of whack. Glycine is the primary amino acid in collagen that helps to cool the body by acting upon the NMDA receptor, which relaxes the blood vessels.

This result means that all the blood that would generally be pooling around the core of the body to keep you warm is distributed to the limbs, thus allowing you to cool down and fall asleep easier.

7. Collagen Has a Positive Effect On The Liver

Due to a glycine deficiency, it becomes difficult to produce bile as you get older, and without bile, fat is going to sit in your stomach and cause digestion issues. The glycine amino acid present in collagen helps to create bile.

Bile allows your body to emulsify fats and turn them into fuel. It also helps to modulate inflammation in the liver, which means that if you've had one too many and want to reduce the impact on your liver, taking collagen can help you out.

How To Take Collagen

There are many different ways to get collagen into your system, such as drinking bone broth, gnawing on meat bones, or eating pork rinds as a treat, etc. Then you have fish collagen, which is popular in Japan, and grass-fed collagen peptides, used for most types of collagen supplements.

You can add a couple of tablespoons of collagen powder into your cereal, juice, coffee, tea, or smoothie in the morning. It blends in smoothly and doesn't get clumpy, nor does it have a distinct taste.

What are The Main Sources of Collagen?

Collagen is mostly glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. These are all essential amino acids that are naturally produced by the body, and you can also get them from your diet. But, since most mammals can't produce enough of these essential amino acids, supplementation is necessary.

The best source of dietary collagen comes from mammals and animals like fish and birds. If you're vegan, legumes like soy and tempeh contain all the essential compounds that makeup collagen.

Possible Side-Effects

So far, there aren't a lot of side-effects associated with taking collagen supplements. But some mild side effects include a bad taste in the mouth after ingesting it, or indigestion depending on how you take it and the source of the supplement itself.

Conclusion

Whether from animal foods like fish, or vegan foods like tempeh, adding collagen to your diet can be a great way to improve the quality of the skin, heal your joints, and turn back to the clock, so you can look and feel like the "good old" days. 

So why are you waiting? The fountain of youth, e.g., collagen, is waiting for you in your local grocery or supplement aisle.

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Editor: Charles Fitzgerald


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