Those in search of the fountain of youth are always looking for the latest anti-aging techniques and supplements. In recent years, the natural protein collagen has caught our attention as a potential secret to staying forever young. Some claim that collagen can restore the skin’s youthful luster and making us look – and feel – years younger. But is collagen really the secret to slowing the aging process? Let’s find out!
What is Collagen?
At its simplest, collagen is a protein. It is abundant in the body, acting as a building block for nearly every organ and tissue. There are several different types of collagen each with its own purpose. The various forms are found in our bones, skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, corneas, and even teeth!
So, what’s the purpose of collagen? You can think of this tacky protein like a biological “glue” that holds us together (the name collagen even comes from the Greek word for glue). It gives our tissues strength, elasticity, and resilience.
As you get older, your body produces less and less collagen naturally. As a result, those pesky signs of aging – wrinkles, sagging skin, and joint weakness – start to show.
The Benefits of Collagen
Collagen isn’t just for feeling and looking young. It is essential for health. Here are just a few of the many benefits of collagen and why it’s so helpful for keeping us young and healthy:
1) Keeps your skin youthful.
Collagen is one of the skin’s most essential components. Along with elastin and fibrillin, collagen peptides are responsible for giving skin its elasticity and resilience. When the skin is damaged, collagen helps repair the tissue and restore the natural barrier. And when it comes to preventing aging, collagen helps prevent deep wrinkles, fine lines, sagging, and thinning skin.
2) Improves joint health.
Collagen is necessary for healthy bones and joints. One of the reasons we develop conditions like osteoarthritis as we get older is because we have less collagen. With plentiful collagen, however, our joints are flexible and sturdy. Adequate collagen levels can prevent or reduce issues like arthritis. Increased levels of collagen also correlate with lower levels of inflammation and joint pain.
3) Helps maintain healthy bones.
Collagen is also present in our bones, where it gives us a solid, stable structure. Studies show that collagen may help prevent or slow issues like osteoporosis and bone fractures.
4) Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
When we think of collagen, we tend to think of skin and joints. But our blood vessels also require collagen to function properly. Without enough collagen, they become weak and fragile. Collagen supports their flexible structure and allows the heart to work effortlessly.
5) Supports a healthy gut.
Researchers are studying how collagen is used in internal organ systems, like the gut. Some suggest that collagen can heal the gut lining and may prevent issues like leaky gut syndrome.
Are Collagen Supplements Really Worth the Fuss?
Many people look to collagen supplements to slow the process of aging and maintain youthful-looking skin. The idea is that by ingesting collagen (or using it topically on the skin), you can reap even more benefits of this healing protein and prevent aging skin and joint issues.
But does it really work? Are collagen supplements worth it? In most cases, research shows that collagen supplements can restore your body’s natural collagen levels and reduce the signs of aging.
One study found that taking oral collagen peptides with additional nutrients that support the body improved the skin’s hydration levels, elasticity, texture, and thickness after just a few months. Not only that, but the participants themselves felt like their skin and appearance had significantly improved.
Another study showed that collagen could be one of the secrets to feeling young, even while growing old. Daily intake of a collagen supplement improved skin elasticity, joint health, and mobility to promote overall wellbeing.
Bottom line – collagen supplements can be helpful, but they don’t replace supporting your body’s own natural collagen production.
4 Ways to Boost Your Collagen Naturally
While supplements are a great way to boost collagen levels, the best way to truly tap the fountain of youth is to enhance your body’s natural collagen-producing abilities. Promoting healthy levels of natural collagen is the most effective way to maintain healthy, youthful skin, bones, and joints. Here are a few simple ways you can boost your body’s collagen stores naturally:
1) Eat collagen-rich foods.
Collagen and its building blocks (like vitamin C, proline, and glycine) can be found in many natural foods. One of the best ways to boost your collagen naturally is with bone broth.
Just like classic healing chicken soup, bone broth is a deeply nourishing broth made from simmering animal bones (and sometimes other optional ingredients like herbs and vegetables) for hours. Bone broth has a high collagen content and has been used for centuries to help with joint pain, digestion issues, and longevity.
Bone broth has a ton of great health benefits – and it’s simple to make, too! Learn how to make your own here.
2) Supplement from the root.
Want to make more, higher-quality collagen naturally? Give your body the building blocks it needs to make it yourself. Specific vitamins and minerals are required to make collagen, including vitamin C. Eat plenty of red bell peppers, strawberries, citrus fruits, and kiwis to get enough vitamin C each day.
Aceva’s Active-C is another great way to stay on top of your vitamin C levels and promote collagen formation, all while helping encourage healthy bones, joints, and immune function.
3) Stimulate collagen production with acupuncture.
What if you could “trick” your skin into making more collagen? With facial acupuncture, you can! Facial rejuvenation acupuncture, or cosmetic acupuncture, is a form of acupuncture that targets wrinkles, lines, and sagging skin with hair-thin needles. When the tiny needles enter the facial skin, they trigger the body’s natural skin healing response: laying down collagen. The result is improved tone, reduced wrinkles, and younger-looking skin.
4) Avoid collagen-depleting habits.
Unfortunately, certain lifestyle habits could be depleting our collagen stores. Avoid the following habits to boost your body’s natural collagen production:
- Eating sweets. Sugar and refined carbs prevent collagen from repairing itself and increase inflammation in the skin and joints.
- Smoking. Along with speeding up the healing process and damaging lung, cardiovascular, and skin tissues, smoking reduces your body’s ability to make collagen.
- Sun exposure. Too much sunshine can reduce your natural collagen production and age your skin faster (also called photoaging).
Stay Forever Young with Natural Health Care
Who wouldn’t want to take a dip in the fountain of youth?! While anti-aging supplements like collagen seem promising, they don’t take the place of good, old-fashioned self-care. Taking care of your body early and often with natural, preventative methods is the best path to a lifetime of feeling – and looking – your best.
Ready to tap into your body’s own internal fountain of youth? AlignLife chiropractors are here to help! Book your visit today to learn how chiropractic, nutrition, and other natural health care options can help you stay fit, healthy, and youthful for years to come!