If you follow current health trends, you’ve probably seen collagen protein powders and collagen supplements at the grocery store or advertised online. There’s good reason for collagen’s surge in popularity: it offers myriad health benefits you’re probably not aware of. The most well-known benefit of collagen is its role in promoting supple, glowing skin. Collagen has become a go-to beauty supplement over the past few years. But, collagen isn’t only for the beauty conscious among us. It’s actually a necessary protein that all connective tissues in the body need. Read on to find out why and how to harness the benefits of collagen.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein the body naturally produces. Think of it as a glue-like protein that holds together nearly every single tissue in the body — tendons, muscles, joints, and even your intestines. As you can see, adequate amounts of collagen are important for good health.
What happens when there’s not enough collagen?
As we get older, collagen production slows down. This helps explain why our skin wrinkles and sags. It’s why we no longer have that youthful glow. Lack of collagen can cause joint pain, and in more severe cases, it can result in rheumatoid arthritis. But, aging isn’t the only reason for low collagen levels. Environmental pollutants, smoking, eating fried and/or processed foods, getting too much sun, and eating too much sugar all contribute to collagen loss.
Collagen supports healthy muscles and joints
The benefits of collagen are many. Let’s take a look at some of the most important ones. Collagen helps alleviate joint pain among athletes. When combined with resistance training, collagen helps increase muscle strength. If you’re looking to build muscle, or if you’re an active person and want to prevent joint pain, collagen should be on your supplements list.
Collagen helps us look younger
Collagen can help reduce wrinkles and fine lines. When combined with vitamins and mineral supplements, along with hyaluronic acid, collagen promotes skin elasticity and hydration. If you’re looking to reduce visible signs of skin aging, search for a collagen powder that contains vitamins, minerals, and hyaluronic acid.
How to boost collagen naturally
Eating the right foods can also increase your body’s collagen levels. Certain foods contain collagen, help prevent collagen breakdown, or help your body produce more of it. Add more of these foods to your diet to start reaping the benefits of younger-looking skin and improved joint health!
Bone broth is one of the best foods you can eat to start experiencing the benefits of collagen. It’s so easy to substitute bone broth for regular chicken or vegetable broth when making soups and stews. Bone broth has more collagen than any other food, so stock your pantry with bone broth and use it when cooking. What’s more, collagen-rich bone broth contains bioavailable collagen. This means it’s easily absorbed by the body, ready to use straight away. Beef bone broth is best if you’re looking for glowing skin, and chicken and turkey bone broth are best for muscle and joint health. Make sure to look for bone broth that’s been slowly simmered for a long period of time, or try making your own.
Matcha green tea — an antioxidant-rich powdered Japanese green drink — doesn’t contain collagen, but drinking it may help prevent collagen loss. You can drink matcha in tea form as it’s traditionally taken, or add the powder to foods such as soups, smoothies, or oatmeal.
What’s not to love about wild salmon? It’s brimming with health benefits. Who knew the benefits of collagen were lurking in there, too? Wild salmon not only contains omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and boost mood, it also has zinc, a mineral that’s essential for the synthesis of collagen.
Eggs, like bone broth, are one of the few foods containing collagen. Collagen is found in the yolk, as well as the eggshell membrane. If you want the benefits of collagen, egg whites alone won’t do. In addition to collagen, eggs contain sulfur. Sulfur is a lot like zinc in that it’s necessary for collagen synthesis. If you like eggs, keep eating them.
Dark berries like blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are great foods for their anti-aging properties. They contain something called ellagic acid. This acid helps prevent the breakdown of collagen, especially the kind that happens after years and years of sun exposure. Berries also contain vitamin C. Any food rich in vitamin C is beneficial because it supports collagen production.
Lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes, may also help collagen breakdown. Lycopene has been shown to decrease oxidative stress, meaning it destroys the molecules that can lead to skin damage, collagen damage, and other signs of aging. Lycopene is also found in other red foods, such as watermelon, pink grapefruit, and red peppers.
Like wild salmon, pumpkin seeds contain loads of zinc, which is essential for collagen synthesis. Zinc supports skin health in a number of ways. If salmon isn’t your thing, sprinkle pumpkin seeds on soups and salads, or eat them as a snack. You can even buy pumpkin seed butter to spread on toast or add to a smoothie.
Dark, leafy greens exude the benefits of collagen because when you eat them, they produce the precursor to collagen (procollagen) within the body. Focus on kale, collards, spinach, lettuce, bok choy, arugula, and broccoli. Add leafy greens to soups, stir-frys, and even smoothies.
At Elite Physique, we believe an equal balance of nutrition, activity, rest, and confidence is the foundation for achieving a healthier you. Our personalized weight-loss programs are custom-tailored to help you meet your goals and to address the underlying factors that can make weight loss difficult. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!