Looking for a magic pill to make you instantly wrinkle-free and radiant overnight? Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist. What does keep skin healthy, supple, and glowing is a diet rich in whole foods, H2O, and possibly 2016’s trendiest new ingredient: collagen. If you haven’t heard of collagen before, take note, as its benefits are about to have a major wellness moment.
You are what you eat--it is as simple as that. Eating a diet rich in healthy fats like avocado and olive oil, quality grass-fed and wild-caught proteins, and organic fruits and vegetables helps to ensure beautiful insides and outsides.
Particular nutrients and proteins also help to boost the beauty-making process even more. Nutrients like zinc, B vitamins, healthy fats, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and E, all contribute to skin health, while collagen keeps things smooth and elastic.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen, composed of the amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and arginine, is the main protein found in animal connective tissue, and an essential building block for our skin and bodies.
In fact, collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body and helps to make up skin, nails, organs, hair, tendons, ligaments, bones, cartilage, vasculature, and more.
Collagen Benefits: Beauty and Health Rx
In terms of skin health, collagen is necessary for providing the elasticity, suppleness, and regeneration of our skin, meaning it keeps us looking youthful and wrinkle-free – hooray! However, as we age, collagen production decreases and the outer part of our skin, the epidermis, begins to thin and lose elasticity and moisture.
Even more, environmental factors like damage from spending too much time in the sun, pollution, smoking, and genetic factors can speed up the aging process even more.
The good news is that when taken orally collagen can promote skin health, increase skin moisture, slow down and may even reverse some skin damage. A study in 2014 showed that women who took collagen peptides regularly for eight weeks saw a 20 percent reduction in wrinkles. Hello secret skin food!
Another 2015 study found that taking oral collagen seriously increased participant’s skin hydration after just eight weeks. Even better, "the collagen density in the dermis (the thick layer of skin beneath the epidermis) significantly increased, while the breaking down of the skin's collagen network significantly decreased after just four weeks of collagen peptide supplementation." Both of these skin-loving effects continued to persist even after 12 weeks.
Along with a wide variety of amino acids for skin health, collagen contains quality protein as well. In fact, just two scoops of most collagen peptides contains around 20 grams of protein, which will keep you sated and keep muscles and tissues healthy. Consuming collagen is also thought to be beneficial for joint health, hormone balance, healthy digestion and gut health, and boosting metabolism.
Uses for Collagen
Now that you know the benefits of collagen as a total beauty and health superfood, you’ll want to add it to everything possible. The good news is that collagen can be added to more than just coffee. And no, heat won’t mess with collagen’s uber benefits.
Collagen is tasteless and odorless, so it won’t funk up the flavor, taste, or texture of any of your favorite foods. In fact, it dissolves quickly into hot and cold foods instantly. Use collagen powder in:
-Coffee and tea
-Stirred into organic yogurt or kefir
-Oatmeal and overnight oatmeal
-Chia seed pudding
-Soups and broths
-Stirred into cooked quinoas and grains
-Baked goods like cookies and quick breads
-Pancakes and waffles
-Baked pasta and egg dishes
-Kombucha and fermented beverages
-Or simply, water with lemon
Of course, when it comes to getting the most collagen benefits from supplementation, consuming a high-quality product is of the most utmost importance. Look for a collagen product that uses pasture-raised, grass-fed animals that have not been given steroids, antibiotics, or any other nonsense. Talk to a nutritionist or health specialist who can recommend the best product for you.
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