Colla, Colla, Collagen!

 retrieved from river oaks wellness center (12)

retrieved from river oaks wellness center (12)

Anyone catch the "Paradise" by Coldplay reference in the title?  Don't hate me.  I had to.  It was either this or another pun, so you're welcome that it wasn't worse. 

So you're really here to hear about what collagen has to offer, yes?  Or maybe somehow your Reddit rabbit hole pulled you this way?  Either way, I'm glad you're here.  Stay a while and learn something useful.

I recently wrote a review for Vital Proteins, but I felt like I couldn't really go into huge detail on why collagen is so important to add to your regular diet.  Beauty gurus have been talking about it for years to women who want thicker/shinier hair, better nails, and clearer skin.  But I think everyone should try using it to see what it can do for them, because the benefits of this stuff aren't just skin-deep.  

So what's in it for me?

Basically, a comprehensive list of things I've been able to find about collagen benefits is as follows:

  • Prevention of osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis)
  • Increased joint mobility
  • Reduced wrinkles & overall healthier skin
  • Increased hair thickness & strength
  • Prebiotic factors (your gut bacteria likes to munch on it!)

Uhm, yes please to ALL the things!!  If you're me and you want more info, here's some stuff to back me up on this.

Prevention of Osteoarthritis & Increased Joint Mobility

According to a study published by Bello & Oessner in 2006 (1), collagen supplementation has the potential to prevent the onset of osteoarthritis.  This form of arthritis is the most common type, and it's basically the kind that you get when the padding on your joints is worn out from use.  I hate to call it "aging arthritis," but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... :)

Anyway, collagen is the building block protein of the "padding" in your joints.  So it seems pretty straightforward to me that it would help you out by eating some to supply your body with extra for when you need it down the road!

Along the same vein (or joint?), Dr. Josh Axe (2) uses the analogy of a creaky door hinge needing oil.  Think of your tight joints and tendons as the hinge, and the collagen as the oil!  Improved body elasticity and decreased joint soreness have been noted in multiple studies on collagen benefits (3, 4).  

 retrieved from health & eating - food (10)

retrieved from health & eating - food (10)

Reduced Wrinkles & Overall Healthier Skin

This was a big pull for me to start using collagen regularly.  Not so much the wrinkles (yet!) but I've always had acne issues.  Many a study has shown the benefits of reduced wrinkles with the use of collagen (5), but the connection of collagen to acne clearing is harder.  Studies are currently ongoing as to how exactly stress causes acne, though one article claims that the release of more oil from stress clogs your pores more readily, thus causing the nasty little buggers (6).

That being said, I dug around to see if the stress/leaky gut connection has anything to do with it, and it appears to do just that: stress can cause leaky gut, leaky gut can put you into a cycle of greater stress on the body (7), leaky gut can begin to be healed with collagen (1).  So I'm not crazy in observing fewer breakouts from stress and from food since supplementing with collagen!

 Dante Horton Photography, used c/o anupi chandiramani (11)

Dante Horton Photography, used c/o anupi chandiramani (11)

Increased Hair Thickness & Strength (8)

Here's the beauty section of the article: does collagen really make hair more luxurious?  Well, according to a study by Wickett et. al. (8), it does.  This study showed a significant increase in both tensility (strength) and thickness in the hair of subjects who were given collagen for a period of time, versus those not given collagen.  

As for myself, I've always had thin hair but I've noticed a big decrease in breakage and I even stretch out my hairbands now.  I credit this to a combination of eating better since going paleo and the added collagen to my diet.

Prebiotic Factors (9)

And since I'm a big pusher for gut health, I need to let y'all know that collagen is great for improving those little bacteria living in there.  While a probiotic is something you injest that adds bacteria to your large intestine, a prebiotic is something that feeds the bacteria already there.  Most traditionally-recognized prebiotics are carbohydtate-based, usually starchy.  But some new studies have recently been published that prove collagen's benefit as a prebiotic in its own right - even though it's a protein (9).  For me, that just proved my method of mixing some collagen into full-fat organic yogurt once in a while even more justifiable.  Getting in those pro- AND prebiotics at once, ya feel?

So, what's the final word?

Based on this blossoming research and my own n=1 self experimentation with collagen, I think it's definitely worth trying to incorporate to your life for a few months to see what it can do for you.  When combined with healthy eating, exercise, and stress reduction, I think it could work wonders for you.  Keep in mind that this is one of those things, like other lifestyle changes, that takes a bit of time.  But if you grant it that, you could set yourself up to reap any or all of the benefits discussed here.  

If you'd like to purchase some top-of-the-line collagen, click here.

Sources

(1)  Bello, A. E., Oesser S.  (October 10, 2006).  Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature.  Taylor & Francis Online.  Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1185/030079906x148373

(2)  Axe, J.  (2016).  What is collagen? 7 ways collagen can boost your health.  Dr. Axe.  Retrieved from https://draxe.com/what-is-collagen/

(3)  Bruyère, O. et. al.  (January 20, 2012).  Effect of collagen hydrolysate in articular pain: a 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study.  PubMed.  Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22500661

(4)  Clark, K. L. et. al.  (April 15, 2008).  24-week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain.  PubMed.  Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18416885

(5)  De Luca, C.  et. al.  (January 19, 2016).  Skin antiageing and systemic redox effects of supplementation with marine collagen peptides and plant-derived antioxidants: a single-blond case-control clinical study.  PubMed.  Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26904164

(6)  Kam, K.  (2016).  Stress and acne.  WebMD.  Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/stress-and-acne#1

(7)  Kresser, C.  (March 23, 2012).  How stress wreaks havoc on your gut  - and what to do about it.  Chris Kresser.  Retrieved from https://chriskresser.com/how-stress-wreaks-havoc-on-your-gut/

(8) Wickett, R. R. et. al.  (December 2007).  Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair.  Springer Link.  Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00403-007-0796-z

(9) Sheveleva, S. A., Batishcheva S.  (n.d.).  Characteristics of collagen's material bifidogenic properties.  PubMed.  Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22642160

(10)  n.a.  (2016).  Foods for healthy skin.  Health & Eating Food.  Retrieved from http://healtheatingfood.com/foods-for-healthy-skin/

(11) Horton, D.  (n.d.). Kickback ent.   Retrieved from fhttp://dantehortonphotography.com

(12) n.a.  (n.d.).  Welcome!  River Oaks Wellness Center.  Retrieved from http://riveroakswellnesscenter.com/