Derived from the Greek word for glue, collagen is something your body simply couldn’t function without. It is a complex protein which binds tissues together, such as skin, hair and bone, as well as your internal organs and blood vessels.
There are a number of collagen foods and drinks which you can try, in order to make sure you’re not missing out on this protein in your diet. There are so many ways to do so, but you need to look in all the right places first.
Why Collagen Matters
Nothing lasts forever and, as with many bodily processes, collagen becomes a precious and rare resource over time. Your body provides a near-constant supply of collagen directly into your body even before you’re born, with cells secreting this precious protein.
Collagen keeps bones strong, joints supple and helps reinforce muscle strength. Not only that - collagen is responsible for keeping hair from becoming dry and lifeless, as well as keeping skin stretchy and flexible. But as we age, our cells start secreting smaller amounts of collagen over time.
The consequence is that wear and tear causes fine lines and wrinkles to appear on skin, bones become weaker and more easily broken and muscle strength is harder to maintain. That doesn’t mean having to resign yourself to these issues as you get older, though - a whole host of hydrolyzed collagen supplements exist that you can add to your dietary regime, all of them rich in collagen.
Foods That Boost Collagen Intake
To understand collagen, you need to view it as one of the greatest building blocks to life on Earth. As it is a complex protein, it is often derived from living organisms, which need it to grow. Animal bones are densely packed with collagen, meaning that one of the best ways to inject some collagen directly into your diet is to consider trying some form of animal bone broth.
Eggs are another example of a foodstuff which goes a long way toward boosting your intake of collagen. The average chicken egg you find in a store comprises of a hardened calcium shell protecting a gooey egg white and a golden yolk right at the centre. Egg white is known to contain glycine and proline, the core amino acids that collagen is actually made of.
Not only that, but egg white is also reported to play an important role in helping boost collagen production by skin cells. A study published in the Asian Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances in 2011 revealed how lysozyme, a naturally occurring antibacterial enzyme found in egg white, actively encourages the secretion of collagen by fibroblasts.
Fibroblasts are cells that form the bulk of most connective tissues, such as skin. The researchers who conducted the aforementioned study in 2011 made the finding after introducing egg white lysozyme onto the skin cells of mice in vivo and in vitro. As well as actively encouraging greater collagen secretion, egg white lysozyme was found to boost moisture levels on the skin cells.
Rather than covering yourself in egg white, perhaps you should consider cooking some eggs (boiled, fried or scrambled). Just remember to include eggs as part of a balanced diet to really feel those benefits.
Benefits of Drinking Collagen Supplements
One of the earliest forms of collagen supplements was a form of bone broth. This is because animal bones constitute some of the most concentrated sources of collagen. For those wishing to stick to a vegetarian or vegan diet, bone broth or any collagen supplement derived from animals would be understandably unsuitable, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to drink collagen supplements.
For example, soy milk is a vegan-friendly drink to consider for boosting collagen levels. Products derived from soy contain an isoflavone called genistein, as well as phytoestrogen. These substances help block the enzymes which start to reduce skin elasticity.
But you don’t need to directly drink collagen itself to maintain a healthy level of collagen in your body. Edible leafy greens such as kale contain chlorophyll, which possesses antioxidant properties. Free radicals build up if left unchecked, disrupting your supply of collagen and damaging healthy tissue. You can incorporate kale into your diet in the form of a tasty smoothie, banishing free radicals and helping restore the natural balance.
There are a small number of collagen drink side effects. These can arise when consuming smoothies made from collagen powder, but are often mild. It’s possible to experience issues such as heartburn, a feeling of fullness or simply a funny taste in your mouth for a short time.
Going for any kind of collagen supplement, whether foodstuff or drink, always check the label to see what it was derived from, just in case you might be allergic to any of the ingredients.