When it comes to lasting health, nothing tops a balanced diet to keep your inner cogs whirring. Most people know that daily vitamins are important for your general health, but did you know a daily dose of collagen support can work wonders too?
Here's the lowdown on the latest age-defying wellness buzz.
What is collagen, exactly?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and you can find it just about everywhere. It's in our bones, skin, muscles, tendons, digestive system and even our blood vessels.
It's what gives skin its elasticity and helps to repair, renew and replace skin cells. Without collagen, our skin couldn't heal effectively and would hang loose and lacklustre no matter how old we were. It's also important for healthy joints and effectively 'glueing' the body together - it's pretty damn useful stuff!
There are around 16 different types of collagen, each important in their own right. Here are the five most prominent variations and what they do to help our bodies function and thrive:
This is the most common collagen type, making up tiny eosinophilic (or cell) fibres that help form tendons, ligaments, organs and skin. It also helps bones form and assists with healing by keeping the skin elastic and holding tissue together to prevent tearing.
Type 2 collagen tackles joint pain and arthritis symptoms like nothing else. It helps to build cartilage and keeps our joints healthy and moving seamlessly.
Just like Type 1, Type 3 collagen is found in our skin, muscles and organs. This type is made of reticular fibres and also makes up part the extracellular matrix that forms our organs and skin. It also strengthens blood vessels in the heart, meaning Type 3 collagen deficiency often leads to rupturing.
Type 4 collagen exists inside the body to pad and protect. It helps to form protective tissue around our most important organs, keeping them safe and healthy. It's found in-between the outermost layer of our skin and the very deepest tissue layer.
This type of collagen is needed to make the surface of cells, as well as hair strands and important tissue that helps to form a healthy placenta during pregnancy.
How does it improve overall natural health?
As we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen. This can lead to wrinkles, sagging skin and less bodily elasticity in general - things we often refer to as 'common signs of ageing'. While there's nothing wrong with growing older gracefully, working on increasing levels of collagen within the body can help with an array of age-related complaints and ailments.
Double-blind studies looking at collagen's anti-aging properties found that 2.5–5 grams of collagen hydrolysate used once a day for women aged 35–55 helped with skin elasticity, moisture, dryness and skin roughness. What's more, there didn't seem to be any obvious negative side effects at all.
Without a healthy supply of collagen, the skin loses its elasticity which can also mean more visible cellulite. While cellulite isn't always inherently unhealthy, it's definitely a bodily feature most of wouldn't mind getting rid of. A lack of collagen can also mean increasing hair loss, weakened nails, achy joints and stretch marks.
Collagen is also great for building lean muscle and burning fat, as it's extremely high in glycine which helps to feed newly formed muscle. Glycine converts glucose into energy to form muscle tissue, helping the body stay lean and strong. It's not just handy for gym bunnies either, retaining muscle mass helps support posture and bone health as you age too.
How can we boost our collagen levels from the inside?
Our bodies produce their own collagen, but incorporating it into our diet is a good idea too. Collagen also exists in products that we can consume and enjoy every day, making it easy (and tasty) to stock up on.
Animal Protein & Egg Whites
It goes without saying that this option is most definitely a no-go if you’re vegan, however, for non-vegans searching for a solution to their lack of collagen, then animal protein is a great place to begin. Believe it or not, bovine, chicken and fish-based collagens all provide protein that helps to fuel muscle and cartilage repair and in turn kick the body into full collagen making mode. Just make sure it’s from a certified organic source. In addition to this, egg whites are another helpful, albeit non-vegan, means of incorporating extra collagen into your diet. Egg whites contain a very generous helping of collagen and amino acids, that work to build connective tissue and assist the body with natural healing. Be sure to eat the egg yolks as well though, as well as being packed full of amazing nutrients, the yolk will help the body process the white.
If animal protein isn’t a viable option for your lifestyle, a fantastic way to increase collagen in your body is Vitamin C. The connection between Vitamin C and the production of collagen has been overlooked in the past but more and more studies now recognise the crucial role it plays in the synthesis of collagen that happens within our body. Without Vitamin C, amino acids struggle to link together and thus, cannot form the collagen we know and love. Aside from helping stimulate collagen, Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant responsible for fighting free radical damage in the body amongst a myriad of other health benefits. Eating foods rich in Vitamin C is the easiest way to up your dose, try including foods such as oranges, grapefruit, red peppers, kale, broccoli, strawberries and more into your daily routine. There’s nothing like a grapefruit breakfast to begin the day!
Natural collagen supplements
Even with a varied, balanced diet, from time-to-time, an extra collagen boost works a treat. Supplements are a quick, easy way to get extra collagen onboard to help your body out. At the moment, one of our favourite supplements to get more collagen into the diet and improve our health is The Beauty Chef’s Collagen Inner Beauty Boost. This has all the right ferments and probiotics to help your body build collagen from the inside out.
How can we boost our collagen levels from the outside?
Applying collagen enhancing skin or hair products is another great way to add a bit of elasticity to certain areas - whether it's the eyes, face or the rest of the body. Our personal favourite collagen enhancing must-have?
The Aleph Concealer/Foundation
Not only does our Concealer/Foundation give you a flawless, velvety finish, but we have also included some amazing collagen-enhancing ingredients such as Alaria Esculenta Extract and Coq10 to help keep your skin supple and looking younger for longer.
The Alaria Esculenta Extract is an eco-certified oil extracted from a species of brown algae, off the coast of France, that is rich in amino acids, powerful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals - A veritable secret skin weapon! We chose to include this ingredient in the Concealer/Foundation because of its amazing ability to promote elasticity and suppleness by reducing the enzymes- collagenase and elastase - known to breakdown collagen and elastin.
Coq10 is an extremely powerful nutrient that occurs naturally in the body and is in many of the foods we eat. Responsible for protecting the cells and energy production in the body, this fat-soluble vitamin has been proven in studies to significantly reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve the appearance of “aged skin”. The potent antioxidant properties of this nutrient help stimulate healthy collagen production - Rejuvenation and replenishment, here we come!
Providing your body with collagen enhancing products is a great way to help it stay young and vibrant. By focusing on it both on the inside and the outside, you can maximise all the wonderful benefits of collagen in ways that work for you.