Over the course of the past few months, we at iTouch Wearables have written about several health and beauty trends hat have circulated around the world : covering everything from semi-flexitarianism, to minimalist beauty, to everything in between. But one thing we still have yet to cover is collagen. Collagen and its uses are still a trend that has been up for great debate, especially with these communities. But, have you been wondering if supplementing collagen is right for you? You’ve probably heard of at least some of the health benefits of collagen : it has been said to be a powerful gut healer, a cellulite smoother, a skin remedy, and a reliever of joint pain.
Have you ever thought, however, whether any of these claims are backed by science are actually been proven true? Also, are there any reasons to avoid collagen that you might not be thinking of? What about the side effects? Are there any? If so, how bad are they, and are they worth it for all the potential benefits? All of these questions are completely valid! I mean, there’s so much information to wade through! With this being said, we’ve laid out the pros and cons of taking collagen. We’ve researched and explained all of the health benefits, in addition to outlining the potential pitfalls and side effects that you might not be aware of:
What Is Collagen:
Being the main structural protein in the body, collagen is an essential component in our bodies that form connective tissues, cartilage, bone and skin elasticity. Collagen is the most abundant protein in human, many mammals, and even fish, and is located most densely in connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, joints, skin), although it’s present in some muscles as well. When it comes to most manufactured or commercialized collagen, the collagen is extracted from the bone (mostly from bovine or fish) and liquefied into the broth. The bones are usually cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time, resulting in the product.
Collagen nowadays is usually available in a powdered form to be added to smoothies, soups, sauces, or even just a glass of juice. If you’re looking to add your collagen to a cold beverage or food (for example, yogurt), make sure you choose a supplement of collagen known as hydrolyzed collagen (also known as collagen hydrolysate), as it’s been processed so that it doesn’t gel when it comes into contact with cold liquids. There are also collagen supplements, foods, and beauty products as well that are often manufactured and produced for sale.
The Pros of Taking Collagen
So, what are the advantages of taking collagen? When it comes to taking collagen, it is a natural source that helps in the body’s natural wound care abilities. It is critical in the reducing bone fractures and osteoarthritis, and has even been shown to reduce blood sugar response in patients with Type 2 diabetes in more recent studies released by The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology.
If you plan on taking collagen as a dietary supplement, it’s been shown in clinical studies to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and improve skin elasticity and skin dryness. Claims that relate to this (however, they aren’t proven by actual scientific evidence) suggest that collagen helps to smooths out the bumpy appearance of cellulite and aids weight loss.
In addition to more "surface" remedies found on the skin, according to a study published in PubMed, amino acids found in collagen offer a possible solution to leaky gut syndrome. They can help in healing and sealing an inflamed and leaky gut. When the gut wall is sealed and inflammation reduced, this helps protect the good bacteria living in the large intestine, which leads to long-term support of a healthy immune system and overall gut health.
More so, studies have also shown that increased collagen intake helps reduce joint pain caused by physical activity. In increasing your take, you can aid in boosting the body’s collagen stores and aid in lubricating the joints. Most people associate calcium supplements with bone support, but in truth, calcium is a brittle mineral. It’s the combination of calcium and collagen that truly improves bone health.
The Cons of Taking Collagen
When taking any supplement, even if it isn't collagen, it’s important to know which questions to ask when it comes to the side effects of increased intake. It's essential to understand both the pros and cons of taking collagen and any other supplement. This is because the side effects can range from very minor – such as a bad taste in the mouth – to extremely severe:
In many severe cases, the side effects from increased intake are due entirely to allergic reactions from the original source of the collagen : these being shellfish and eggs, which two of the most commonly used sources of collagen. Shellfish and eggs, however, are two of the eight most dangerous food allergies. If you have an egg, fish, or shellfish allergy, it’s critical to ensure that your collagen is not sourced from these. Always find out where your collagen comes from, whether it would be simply reading the label or asking your doctor or healthcare provider.
If you don't want to take a supplement or powdered form of collagen, you might also consider high quality bone broth to source your collagen, as you’ll know exactly what’s in it. If the collagen powder you’re considering doesn’t have clear sourcing information on the packaging, choose a different brand. The potential benefits of collagen definitely don’t outweigh the risk of anaphylaxis.
In less severe of forms, other collagen side effects include upset stomach, feelings of fullness, heartburn, and a lingering bad taste in the mouth. If you’re experiencing these side effects, stop taking collagen until the symptoms have subsided. If you’d like to try again, begin with small amounts to allow your body to slowly build up its tolerance. Then you can slowly work your way up to a meaningful dose.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know the facts about collagen and its side effects, you can decide if the pros outweighs the cons. If you do decide to add extra collagen into your diet and increase your intake, be sure you’re using products from known collagen sources. This way, you can avoid any major issues if you have severe food allergies, such as shellfish or eggs. Use only collagen supplements from reputable brands, or make or purchase high quality bone broth to ensure that you’re consuming high-quality collagen proteins.
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