HEALTHY LIVING

What Is Collagen and Why Is It Important to Your Health?

What Is Collagen and Why Is It Important to Your Health?

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Collagen is being studied for its beneficial effects on skin, joints and bones.

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Spoons filled with powders and capsules surround the word collagen in wooden letters.

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SEP. 09, 2022   3 MIN. READ  
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Collagen is one of the most popular items to hit the nutrition aisle, but what exactly is it? And how important is it for your health? Collagen is a protein in the body that provides structure to the connective tissue. Over time and with aging, collagen production decreases causing less elasticity in the skin. Researchers are studying collagen for its potential to reduce wrinkles, mitigate joint pain and reduce bone deterioration.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein that forms the structural component of connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments, bones and joints. It contains 19 amino acids, including eight essential amino acids: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and valine. Because the body can't make these amino acids, we must rely on protein sources – like poultry, eggs, dairy, soy, quinoa and buckwheat – which are considered “complete” proteins as they contain all nine essential amino acids.

Why Is Collagen Important?

Collagen is most well-known for its benefits to skin health. A 2022 research review concluded that oral collagen supplements can help reduce or delay skin aging by improving hydration and elasticity as well as minimizing wrinkles.

A systematic review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found collagen supplements reduced pain and increased function in patients with hand, hip or knee osteoarthritis within three months. Further research needs to be explored to determine the long-term effects of collagen.

Researchers are also studying collagen for its potential to reverse bone deterioration. Some research suggests collagen-based medication may help reinforce brittle bones, but more research needs to be conducted.

How to Increase Your Collagen Intake

Collagen is available in supplement form but it’s also abundant in animal foods, especially those with connective tissue, such as pot roast, brisket and chuck steak. Keep in mind that red meat also contains saturated fat and eating foods high in saturated fat may raise cholesterol levels. Two other options for collagen intake are bone broth and gelatin, both of which are made from the bones of animals.

You can also consume foods with nutrients that stimulate collagen production. Protein-rich foods including fish, chicken, eggs, dairy, and legumes contain the amino acids that your body uses to make collagen. Zinc and vitamin C, which can be found in shellfish, whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, are also both necessary for collagen production. A well-balanced diet may help to provide the components needed to make collagen.

What Is Hydration on a Cellular Level and Why Is It Important?

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We all know how it feels not to be properly hydrated. From experiencing thirst to feeling sluggish to noticing that you don't need to urinate as frequently as usual, it's clear that being dehydrated can negatively affect how we feel and move through the day.

While drinking enough fluid is key to helping us feel our best, less of a focus is placed on the importance of cellular hydration, or having enough fluid in the cells to allow them to do their job. But what is hydration when it comes to cells, and why is hydration important on a cellular level?

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3 Tips to Stay Hydrated Every Day

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A person drinks a glass of water.

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You know it's important to stay hydrated, but knowing is only half the battle. If only you could count on thirst to tell you what your body needs. Unfortunately, research shows that dehydration consistently outpaces physiological thirst. That means you tend to be mildly dehydrated long before you feel thirsty.

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