Collagen, specifically type 1 collagen, is the amplest protein in our entire body. It’s not only needed for muscle building and repair but it’s also used for building and maintaining healthy elastic skin, joints, ligaments, and bones. Fortunately, our body can create it by using two amino acids: glycine and proline in combination with vitamin C. The amino acid glycine is found abundantly in animal foods such as meat, dairy, seafood, and eggs. Proline can be found in both animal and plant foods such as mushrooms, asparagus, and eggs. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables including strawberries, oranges, kiwis, brussel sprouts, and bell peppers. Collagen rich foods are most bioavailable in animal foods like chicken skin, bone broth, fish skin, eggs, and chicken. So now that you’re aware of how your body can make it or consume it, why is it so important?
1. Collagen keeps our joints and ligaments strong – When collagen is low in the body, ligaments, and joints become more stressed because collagen serves as the “glue” that keeps everything smoothly attached and moving. Injuries like tendonitis in the achilles could indicate an issue with collagen production/availability in the body.
2. Collagen improves our skin health – Collagen is what is responsible for keeping our skin smooth, elastic, and clear. Smoking for example decreases the body’s ability to create collagen and it is clearly evident that those who chronically smoke have more rugged unhealthy skin. A recent study revealed the benefits that collagen supplementation had on skin elasticity after just four weeks!
3. Collagen enhances gut health – A chronic illness known as the leaky gut is becoming more and more prevalent in our western societies. The leaky gut is the result of a weakened and damaged gut lining from plant compounds such as gluten, phytic acid, and other inflammatory foods. Once the gut lining is damaged enough, the bloodstream can become intoxicated from what was supposed to stay in your gut but because it is weakened can escape into the bloodstream. Collagen essentially lubricates and strengthens the interior of the gut which is critical for good gut health. Issues like depression can stem from a weakened gut.
4. Collagen builds strong hair and nails – Both our hair and nails are strengthened from the foundation of high-quality proteins, specifically collagen. Without appropriate levels of collagen and amino acids in the diet, hair and nails become weak and brittle.