Adequate collagen levels are essential for well-balanced nutrition and immunity. But what is the best way to ensure adequate collagen presence in the body? Do you know enough about collagen (and its origin) to ensure your body is getting what it needs?
If you have ongoing questions about the efficacy of collagen, you are not alone. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to increase collagen levels – even for those experiencing a natural lack of this ubiquitous protein.
Once considered only within the confines of skincare, collagen is now known to be a vital component of a well-balanced health regimen and can be found not only in supplements but in certain foods that can naturally increase the body’s production of this nutrient.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein – and an abundant one at that. Your body produces collagen to aid in the production of connective tissue, hair, and nails. There are two types of collagen of use to the body: endogenous and exogenous. The former is naturally occurring and produced by the body, while exogenous collagen is introduced to the body by supplements or via collagen-rich foods.
Collagen has always been a component of beauty regimens, and many have turned to exogenous supplements to increase skin elasticity and promote a youthful outward appearance. However, collagen is effective not only for personal aesthetics but for good health as well.
From a science perspective, collagen is comprised primarily of three types of amino acids: proline, glycine, and lysine. Of these, proline is most often associated with the strengthening of necessary cartilage, as well as joint flexibility. (1)
How Is Collagen Beneficial For Your Health?
Collagen is exceedingly helpful for overall wellness. If you are experiencing general malaise or are enduring a chronic health condition, collagen supplements (or increased exposure to collagen-rich foods) can be exceptionally helpful.
Increasing your collagen intake can promote any of the following health benefits:
- Offsetting Age: Collagen is the most abundant naturally occurring protein in the human body. However, as we age, this production level begins to reduce – making it all more important to consider collagen supplements to help keep these vital levels even.
- Joint Pain: Our connective tissues are made of collagen, and the breakdown of this protein naturally results in increased pain in the knees, elbows and elsewhere. Collagen supplements can promote the body’s production of collagen and may help reduce apprehension concerning physical activity and exercise.
- Hair: Another symptom of decreased collagen level is lackluster, thinning hair follicles. Said another way, increasing your collagen intake can dramatically enhance the thickness and fullness of your hair – as well as promote shine and volume.
- Gut health: A leaky gut occurs when the intestinal tract is unable to properly absorb certain foods – and this primarily occurs as a result of excessive intake of processed or unnatural food groups. The introduction of collagen helps fortify the intestinal lining since it is made of skin cells and prone to breakdown.
- Skin health: Collagen is perhaps best known for its contributions to skin elasticity and reduction of the appearance of wrinkles. Collagen supplements can help skin look more youthful and vibrant, in addition to the many additional health benefits listed above.
The benefits of increased collagen are undeniable – not to mention the potential for more appealing hair, skin, and nails. If you are looking to supplement your diet and vitamin regimen with collagen, rest assured you are making a sound investment in your health and wellness.
9 Collagen-rich Foods
Collagen is found naturally in a multitude of superfoods, including:
1. Bone Broth
Bone broth is derived from the low-temperature (slow) boil of all-natural animal bone. Whether it is livestock or poultry broth, this is an excellent source of collagen – and very easily prepared. To make bone broth, simply prepare in a slow cooker with enough water to slightly cover the tops of the bones.
2. Leafy Green Vegetables
Kale is an immunity-boosting superfood nearly unmatched in its ability to promote health and wellness – including the promotion of collagen. As well, leafy greens like spinach, swiss chard, and other lettuce varieties contain the collagen your body needs to decrease joint stiffness and promote immunity.
3. Citrus Fruits
Fruits like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit are known for their collagen-enhancing ability.
More specifically, citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, which is known to increase the production of the predecessor of this essential protein, known as “pro-collagen.” Of course, pro-collagen is found in both citrus fruits as a whole and all-natural (unprocessed) citrus fruit juices.
Chlorella is another name for green algae, and its health benefits are well-documented as concerning immunity and the introduction of collagen.
This natural remedy is also helpful for drug detoxification and inflammatory responses, like fibromyalgia.
5. Potatoes & Tomatoes
Sweet potatoes and tomatoes are more than a side dish.
In fact, these vegetables are chock full of collagen and offer a sweet health benefit in addition to their popularity at the dinner table. Further, tomatoes boast a healthy serving of lycopene, which is a cell-protecting antioxidant.
Collagen-rich berries include blackberries and blueberries and make excellent mid-day snacks to fight off both hunger and toxins (berries are known immunity-boosters as well!)
They’re trending – and for good reason.
Avocados are one of the premier foods to consume for youthful skin and not only contain beautifying collagen, but vitamin E and healthy fats as well. Guacamole: it's more than an essential condiment.
Protein-packed foods like salmon and egg whites are major collagen boosters and can help increase your body’s collagen levels for holistic health benefits.
In addition, salmon contains powerful levels of zinc – a mineral with the specific compounds needed to activate collagen production.
9. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds contain mostly all essential amino acids – and are also replete with fiber and other essential nutrients (and they make such a cute little snack, too!)
Practically speaking, these seeds pack quite a punch of collagen, omega-3s and antioxidant properties.
Other Ways to Boost Collagen
There are superfoods – and there are super supplements. Combined, you should be at your peak for healthy collagen levels and corresponding healthy joints, skin, nails and immunity.
If a collagen-rich diet does not necessarily appeal to your palate, collagen supplements are an easier way to digest this much-needed protein. Be sure the supplements you select are of upstanding quality and are properly processed, particularly with regard to powdered livestock- or marine-derived proteins.
These supplements are easy to add to any preferred beverage, including coffee or a smoothie – and from a quality brand that should dissolve taste-free immediately. If you prefer to use bovine-derived collagen, look for bones derived from grass-fed cattle – which is, of course, the most natural method.
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