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Some buzzworthy health trends turn out to be flops, but when it comes to collagen – well, it’s a beneficial supplement that’s here to stay.
To get to the bottom of why, 24Life asked Cynthia Pasquella, celebrity holistic nutritionist and author of “5 Toxic Emotions that Lead to Bad Food Choices.”
But first, some background …
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found naturally in the body (it’s about one-third of the body’s total protein) and resides in the skin, nails, bones and connective tissues of mammals and humans. Collagen gives skin its strength and helps to remove dead skin cells, as well as protects organs inside the body, working with elastin.
Hydrolyzed collagen is the digestible form of collagen, which you can purchase as a powder supplement. It’s full of the amino acids we need to help the body build new collagen.
24Life: Why do we need collagen and what are signs of a deficiency?
Cynthia Pasquella (CP): As we age, our bodies begin to slow down collagen production. That’s why people begin seeing wrinkles and sagging in their skin, as the elasticity of skin decreases over the years. Some people can also experience joint pain or even arthritis.
24Life: What benefits will people see if they start taking in more collagen?
CP: Many people say that their hair and nails grow stronger. In addition, collagen has been shown to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and provide a more elastic and youthful look. Awesome, right?
Collagen can also help to improve your gut health and digestion, and support your bones and joints with extra mobility and elasticity.
24Life: What is the best way to get more collagen in your diet?
CP: The simplest way I’ve found is using a collagen protein powder. It’s so easy to use and highly absorbable. You can also help your body produce more collagen if you make sure that you are getting plenty of vitamin C in your diet, from vitamin-C rich foods like red bell peppers, kale, and broccoli.
Collagen in powder form is tasteless, so you can put a scoop of hydrolyzed collagen powder into tea, coffee and even smoothies for an extra kick. And you want to have collagen protein powder daily, as a regular part of your diet.
24Life: What should you look for on the label of a collagen supplement?
CP: It’s really important to choose a high-quality collagen supplement that is labeled as grass fed or pasture raised and is free of hormones and antibiotics. Other things to avoid in your supplements include dairy, eggs, sugar, corn and artificial preservatives.
You should also look for collagen labeled as collagen hydrolysate or collagen peptides, as well. These are the types that mix easily into cold or hot liquids. You do not want to try to add gelatin (which “gels”) to liquids or you will end up chewing your beverage.
Take it from Pasquella, collagen is a health trend worth getting into. Your skin and joints will thank you!
Photo credit: Thinkstock, iStock shmeljov.