Collagen 101

Collagen has some pretty impressive health benefits including less fine lines and wrinkles, and beautiful, firm skin. Beyond the skin benefits, there are numerous roles collagen plays in your body. It's essential for you to understand what collagen is and how you can replenish it. Providing your body with the collagen it needs and craves can take years off of your body, both inside and out.  

So, what is collagen?

Collagen is a protein that is naturally produced by your body. In fact, it's the most abundant protein, accounting for about 33% of your body's protein makeup. Collagen is what keeps your skin looking healthy and radiant. It's also responsible for your skin's elasticity; preventing the appearance of those fine lines and wrinkles we don't want to see in the mirror. It's a significant player in the health of your hair, skin, nails, and connective tissue, to name a few. Without protein, your skin can’t "bounce back" into place and will become frail along with your blood vessels and tendons. Needless to say, collagen is an essential protein that plays a vital role in your health as well as your appearance. I'd say it's something to pay attention to, wouldn't you agree?

What are the signs that I need more collagen?

If you're paying close attention, your body will give off warning signs that your collagen levels aren't where they used to be. You may begin to notice fine lines showing up on your face. You may start catching yourself complaining of aching joints. If these sound a bit familiar, you could be experiencing signs of a collagen deficiency. Are your minor injuries not healing as quickly as they once did, or are you beginning to notice symptoms of a leaky gut? These are also warning signs that your body has started to slow its collagen production.  You may even start to see signs in the health of your nails, hair, bones, teeth, and the rest of your skin.

What causes a depletion of collagen?

Don’t panic! There are a handful of reasons for a collagen deficiency and ways to be proactive about it too.

Age's affects on collagen

I hate to tell you this, but as you age, your body starts to slow down on the production of collagen. This is common and natural, so instead of rushing out for a botox treatment, let me help you discover some natural ways to replenish.

Damage and destruction of collagen

Free radicals can cause damage to your skin resulting in a collagen deficiency.  Coming into constant contact with free radicals, like too much exposure to the sun, pollution, or smoke, can cause collagen destruction. If your body is low in antioxidants, your defenses are down, and your collagen levels are at considerable risk. Your body may not have the necessary antioxidants that help prevent collagen destruction. In order to save the collagen in your body and replenish antioxidants, you’ll need a combination of coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Medical conditions that deplete collagen

Unfortunately, various medical conditions prevent your body from being able to absorb the specific vitamins and nutrients it needs. These conditions can eventually lead to collagen destruction.

Low on vitamin C risk being low on collagen

You may also have a Vitamin C deficiency, which will reduce the amount of collagen your body is producing.

What are the benefits of collagen? 

Collagen isn't just fantastic for keeping your skin firm. It has an array of nutritional benefits that you don't want to miss out on.

Collagen is the answer to skin aging

Collagen has the power to fight or reverse skin aging. Studies have shown incredible results in the use of collagen supplements. From skin elasticity to skin hydration, collagen supplements significantly reverse the signs of aging. If that's not enough to convince you, collagen has even shown the ability to get rid of dark sunspots we all want to hide.

Collagen is a powerful anti-inflammatory

Collagen is vital in fighting inflammation. Remember what we discussed about inflammation? It's basically the root of most illness and can wreak havoc on your entire body. When your body suffers from chronic inflammation, you're at a much higher risk for so many additional illnesses and diseases. Did you also know inflammation even prevents you from losing weight and can increase your signs of aging? Those are some pretty big motivators to replenish your collagen levels, aren’t they? Collagen is essential in keeping your gut healthy and protecting your vital organs from disease. As an anti-inflammatory, it works to protect your digestive system from the bacteria that causes leaky gut. Since collagen is loaded with gelatin, it's able to find and heal the source of your gut inflammation.

An immune response boost from collagen

Collagen boosts your immune response to protect your body from hemorrhages, sepsis, and endotoxins. Not only that, it can heal the liver and renal damage caused by many toxins and drugs.

Ulcers and more healed with collagen

If you tend to suffer from ulcers, you should know that collagen is extremely effective in preventing them by protecting the mucus in your gut.  Additional benefits include assisting with the blood flow to your:

  • Heart
  • Intestine
  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Skeletal muscle

Get strong muscles with collagen!

If you're looking to improve the tone or overall function of your muscles, collagen can help with that! Pairing your resistance training with your daily collagen intake will put you on the path to better muscle definition, enhanced muscle function, and improved overall strength.

Experience joint pain relief for collagen

If you've suffered from any type of joint pain, this is a must-read for you.  Your body is craving collagen. How do I know this? Because one of the things I am always hearing from people who have tried my 21-day bone broth diet is the amazing effect it has on their daily battle with arthritis,  or excruciating hip or knee pain. And by now we all know what my bone broth contains… an abundance of collagen! Studies have proven that collagen promotes and supports strong, healthy cartilage tissue. It’s been proven to reduce the pain in the hips and knees of osteoarthritis patients while increasing their collagen stability. Collagen has even helped reduce the risk of deteriorating joints in athletes. Now that says a lot since we all know how hard they push their bodies.

Collagen is the ultimate wound healer

Collagen is also known for its ability to help speed up the healing of fractured bones and wounds. You may often hear me compare collagen to the glue that holds your skin together. Well, in this case, imagine a puncture wound in your arm. If you were able to fill that hole with your "glue," you would heal more quickly, right? And if this "glue" were able to increase the strength of your skin's elasticity, the severity of your wound may not have been quite as bad, to begin with.

How do I retain collagen?

The good news is there are plenty of natural ways to get more collagen. Let’s take a look at some simple options you can try.

Collagen protein powder supplements

Daily collagen supplements are a great, convenient option. Check out my delicious Chocolate Almond Collagen Shake for instance. It can help strengthen your hair and nails and bring back your firm, radiant skin and a healthy glow. You can even add it to your morning coffee if you prefer. Collagen protein powders are easily dissolved in hot or cold water, so your options are limitless. I even recommend adding it to your favorite recipes, soups, or salad dressings. And if you're out and about a lot, collagen protein powders are a dream. They're so easy to take with you anywhere and prepare without hassle.  What more could you ask for?

Gelatin from collagen

Since gelatin is essentially cooked collagen, this is an easy one for you to remember. Not only is it part of my bone broth diet, but you can also find it in a pure powder form to add to a variety of recipes. May I suggest the delicious Lime Gelatin with Strawberries and Basil Essence? Trust me; you'll thank me later.

Collagen has vitamin E and coenzyme Q10 

You can also use the mixture of vitamin C, vitamin E and Coenzyme Q 10, mentioned earlier, to restore your antioxidant levels. Remember, antioxidants are crucial in helping prevent collagen destruction, so make sure you’re they’re a regular part of your diet.

Collagen from bone broth

You know the drill… Bone Broth! Bone Broth! Bone Broth! Sipping on bone broth, especially during intermittent fasting, fills your body with all the nutrients and collagen that it’s packed with. You’ll reap all the rewards collagen has to offer with minimal effort.

Can I use collagen creams?

Although all the hype is in collagen skincare creams, I would recommend taking natural daily supplements instead. Now I know some of you may have just dropped a mini-fortune on the latest collagen creams, so let me explain what I mean. Think of the cream as a temporary fix or a small band-aid. On the surface, they seem to combat the problem, but they aren't truly getting to the root of your skin issues. Sure, you’re providing needed moisture to your skin, but you aren’t actually increasing the collagen production your body is missing. And if you’re solely relying on collagen creams, you’re missing out on all the other amazing benefits collagen provides your body.

How do I add collagen to my diet?

There are many beneficial ways to help support the collagen you're putting back into your system. Think of these as your workout buddy;  there to enhance and support you.

Load up on veggies for collagen

Let's face it; vegetables are beneficial for absolutely everything. Eating your spinach or other leafy greens will provide those important antioxidants that prevent collagen destruction. Adding red vegetables, such as tomatoes and beets, helps protect you from sun damage while also boosting your collagen production, thanks to lycopene.

Collagen adds in copper

Did you know that copper, found in foods like shellfish and red meat, can activate the enzyme that is critical in producing collagen?  Make sure not to overdo it, but it’s definitely a must to add to your diet.

Vitamin C for collagen production

Let me be blunt... if you don't have enough Vitamin C in your body, it's not going to make any collagen.  It is crucial for you to provide your body with the supply of vitamin C it needs. There are so many foods out there that are rich in Vitamin C, so there are no excuses allowed here! Experiment with broccoli, kiwi, tomatoes, and various citrus fruits. You're bound to find something you'll love adding to your daily diet.

Collagen & sulfur

Sulfur plays an important role in your body’s collagen production, so it's important to ensure you're adding sulfur-rich foods to your diet.  Eggs, broccoli, onions, and cauliflower are among the most common, while bok choy, shallots, cabbage, and leeks are also tasty sulfur-rich choices.

White tea rescues collagen

White tea may come as a surprise to some of you. Studies have shown that drinking white tea helps prevent the breakdown of collagen. It protects the skin protein, elastin, and helps prevent the signs of fine lines and wrinkles. I can’t imagine not wanting to add tea to your daily routine now.

The benefits of berries for collagen

This one really shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. Berries have always been known to be packed with antioxidants. Whether you choose strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries, they'll all put up a good fight against free radicals and give your collagen production a significant boost.

Use garlic to rebuild collagen

Garlic is one of those small but mighty powerhouses. It provides a ton of health benefits, and it's one of those things you should always keep on hand. Garlic contains taurine and lipoic acid. Together, they have the incredible power to help rebuild your damaged collagen and offers the added benefit of containing sulfur. It’s easy to see why collagen is always such a hot topic. With so many fabulous health benefits, it’s worth putting in the time and effort to ensure your body is getting the amount it needs. Ready to get to work? Grab my free Collagen 411 guide now.

Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!

Dr. Kellyann