They would catch a wild animal to eat back in the days of primal man, and they weren’t just eating boneless, skinless grilled muscle meat. Nope. Primal man ate the average land animal from head to tail. Did you know that the ‘non-meat’ stuff accounts for nearly half of a cow’s weight? Bones, tendons, skin, cartilage, and other connective tissue are examples of connective tissue. There are valid reasons to consume all of those parts. They are high in collagen. Our bodies actually function best when we eat not only the muscle meat of an animal, but also the collagen.
While protein from meat is unquestionably beneficial, we also require amino acids from collagenous materials. We actually need a lot of collagen to live longer, be healthier, and look and move better.
Because we lose collagen as we age, it is critical to replace the lost collagen. The breakdown of collagen plays a significant role in the aging process. The visible signs of aging caused by collagen breakdown include sagging and thinning skin, stiff joints, shortened stature, stooped posture, and easy bruising.
Collagen has numerous health benefits, including increased longevity and protection against some of the more serious diseases associated with aging.
Collagen contains the amino acid glycine; our bodies require a sufficient amount of glycine, which we cannot produce on our own. To meet all of our physical needs, the average person requires approximately 10 grams of glycine. Unfortunately, our bodies only produce about 3 grams per day, and most of us only consume 1.5-3 grams per day, if that. That is, we cannot produce enough glycine on our own and therefore require supplemental glycine to function properly.
Collagen is roughly 1/3 glycine, so a 12 gram serving of collagen—roughly a heaping scoop of collagen peptides—will provide enough glycine to make up the difference.
Another thing to consider is that meat contains a substance known as methionine. According to research, the more methionine consumed, the shorter the lifespan—unless it is balanced with glycine. Glycine has been shown in mouse studies to increase lifespan.
There are some human studies that support this as well:
- Diabetes has been linked to people who have low glycine levels and eat a lot of meat. People with higher glycine levels and a high meat intake, on the other hand, had no health problems.
- Meanwhile, high glycine levels predict better blood sugar control.
- Low glycine levels are common in patients with chronic kidney disease.
As a result, it appears that higher levels of glycine are associated with better health and lower levels of glycine are associated with poorer health across a wide range of conditions.
Meat is a very healthy part of a diet and has been a vital part of the human diet for hundreds of thousands of years, but most of us moderns tend to eat only muscle meat—boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lean steak and pork chops—rather than fat, bones, skin, and tendons, and so on—and this is simply not healthy. Increasing your collagen intake, on the other hand, may help to balance out your meat consumption by providing plenty of glycine.
Sleep—A warm drink with collagen before bedtime is one of the best non-drug sleep remedies. You can also use bone broth, which contains collagen. What makes this so effective?
This is related to the glycine in collagen. Glycine stimulates the production of serotonin, a brain chemical. According to research, combining collagen with glycine raises serotonin levels, alleviates insomnia symptoms, and improves sleep quality. Other research suggests that it may assist you in returning to a healthier sleep cycle after a period of disrupted sleep or changing time zones.
This is due to the fact that serotonin is converted into melatonin, our sleep hormone, at night. Glycine also helps to lower the body’s core temperature, which allows people to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly, with more quality REM sleep. It also helps people perform better the following day.
3. Younger, Stronger Skin
Collagen is abundant in the skin. Collagen actually forms the structure of our skin, holding it together and giving it a smooth appearance. Consider the poles that hold up a tent. That is exactly what collagen does for your skin. When that structure begins to deteriorate, we develop wrinkles and deep creases in our skin. The good news is that collagen contains the building blocks for our bodies to produce more collagen. And collagen’s benefits are well-documented in these two studies:
- This 2014 study, for example, found that 2.5 grams of collagen per day resulted in a 20% reduction in facial wrinkles after only 8 weeks of collagen supplementation, with the smoothing effects lasting up to a month after supplementation was discontinued.
- Another study discovered that taking 1 gram of chicken cartilage collagen daily for 12 weeks resulted in a 76% reduction in skin dryness and a 13% reduction in wrinkles. The supplementation resulted in a significant increase in collagen within the skin dermis, according to the researchers.
- Another piece of good news is that 6 months of collagen supplementation reduces the appearance of cellulite.
However, in order for our bodies to effectively make and use collagen, we must consume enough vitamin C. Vitamin C is thought to be a cofactor for collagen synthesis and collagen regeneration in the skin. Collagen also requires the assistance of vitamins A and E, as well as zinc.
Sure, having smooth skin is great for getting compliments from your friends, but it’s more than that. Because the age of your face is one of the better predictors of your overall health, the quality of your skin reflects the health of your insides as well.
4. Immune System Function
Everyone these days wants to know how to boost their immune function, which is a good thing. Collagen not only aids in the reduction of inflammation, particularly in the gut, which is intricately linked to the immune system, but it also contains amino acids essential for optimal immune function. Glycine, glutamic acid or glutamine, and arginine have all been shown to aid in the regulation of the inflammatory process and immune function.
Glycine, as we all know, is a component of collagen and has long been thought to be an amino acid with potent anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, it aids in immune system modulation, which means that it allows the immune system to function effectively without overreacting.
Glycine also improves the functionality of macrophages (scavenger cells in our bodies), which go after damaging free radicals and inflammatory cytokines.
Furthermore, some research suggests that collagen protein may play a role in infection resistance. A recent study discovered that collagen boosts the immune system by activating Natural Killer cells and macrophages in the lymphatic system.
L-glutamine is another amino acid found in collagen. L-glutamine is one of the most abundant free amino acids in humans, and it has been shown to aid in immune system function regulation. Immune cells rely heavily on glutamine availability to protect our bodies from pathogens. L-glutamine also helps the immune system by activating lymphocytes and macrophages and regulating glutathione availability—one of our most important antioxidants.
According to this article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, glutamine has been shown to help reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections in athletes (and other people).
There’s also arginine. Arginine is also an essential amino acid. It is a precursor to nitric oxide (NO), a compound that is essential for many bodily functions, including immune system activation.
Arginine benefits both the innate and adaptive immune systems, as well as the ability of T-cells to resist infection. Arginine supplementation, like glutamine, may be required to maintain adequate levels in the body to support optimal immune function.
5. Digestive Health
Our gut health influences almost every other aspect of our health, including brain function, immune function, and, of course, the ability to digest and assimilate food. When the gut becomes inflamed as a result of a poor diet high in processed foods, gluten, grains, and other inflammatory foods, small holes in the very thin lining of the small intestine can allow undigested food proteins to enter the bloodstream. This can aggravate inflammation and lead to food allergies/sensitivities. This is common in celiac disease, IBS, and Crohn’s disease patients.
These disorders are frequently debilitating. These painful conditions cause intestinal irritation and inflammation, resulting in painful symptoms and nutrient malabsorption, as well as severe nutrient deficiencies. Collagen aids in the restoration and healing of the gastrointestinal lining, whereas glutamine, an amino acid found in collagen, reduces inflammation.
6. The Condition of the Brain
Collagen has been found to have neuroprotective properties for neurons in the brain. Type VI collagen forms a barrier to help protect the brain from amyloid-beta proteins, which are thought to be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.
Recent research has also revealed collagen’s remarkable ability to repair and regenerate the Central Nervous System (CNS), making it an ideal material for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injuries, and dementia.
7. Athletic Capability
Collagen is essential in the musculoskeletal system, which includes cartilage, joints, tendons, ligaments, and bones. High collagen levels must be maintained throughout the musculoskeletal system to ensure maximum mobility.
A recent clinical study conducted in the United Kingdom found that subjects who received collagen supplements experienced 20% less muscle soreness after intense exercise than those who received a placebo dose. The subjects also reported improved sports performance and faster recovery from training. Because collagen is a protein that contains high levels of specific amino acids, it provides performance and recovery benefits that go far beyond simple protein supplementation. Collagen not only aids muscle regeneration, but it also aids in the formation and maintenance of strong tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue.
Among the studies that support the multiple benefits of collagen peptides in supporting connective tissues are:
- Regenerating cartilage and reducing joint inflammation
- Reducing joint discomfort
- Supporting connective tissues
- Preventing injuries, especially repetitive use injuries
Collagen supplementation has been shown to improve healing time for all types of injuries, including those to the brain, body tissues, skin, muscle, and connective tissue. It is a safe bet that taking extra collagen can also shorten the healing time from any wound or trauma that necessitates the formation of new collagen.
Which kind of collagen should I use?
Collagen can be found in the skin, tendons, and cartilage of meat and poultry, or you can make your own collagen broth by boiling chicken feet or cooking bone marrow.
If you’re anything like me, you’d rather just add collagen powder to your morning coffee, smoothies, or evening tea. Collagen can be flavored or plain, and it has no taste in general.
Collagen comes in three varieties: hydrolyzed collagen, collagen peptides, and collagen hydrolysate. These types are easier for the body to digest and use. Is there a distinction? No, not at all. Everything is broken down to make it easier to understand and apply.
Although there are 16 different types of collagen, types I, II, and II account for approximately 90% of the collagen in the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of collagen. When you consume any type of collagen, it is broken down into amino acids in your body so that your body can use it. Is it necessary to have specific types of collagen in order for certain body functions to function properly? No, not at all. The collagen is broken down by the body into amino acids, which are then used wherever they are needed.
Do you want to feel and look younger? Begin incorporating high-quality collagen into your daily routine!