By Alex Eriksson
Can you actually think of anyone who ever said they wanted to look old and wrinkly and suffer from aching joints and loose skin? Most likely, not. Almost everyone wants to look young and feel young, and understandably so.
The Elixir of Youth
Aging is a natural and inevitable process. We can’t escape it – although we can avoid it.
Humans keep searching for ways to look younger though, as evidenced by the multitude of anti-aging products in the market. However, while the mythical elixir of youth is nowhere to be found, nature has given the human body a substance that can at least help with the unavoidable - the protein collagen.
Collagen protein is the closest thing to an elixir of youth you could possibly get. It is known for its ability to shed off a few years from your aging appearance.
This protein makes up the connective tissues that hold the human body together. While some of its amino acid components are produced by the body, you still need to get others from the food you eat. And if you cannot get all from food, you can also get them from collagen hydrolysate supplements.
Most people have probably heard of collagen's anti-aging benefits to the skin. But it actually offers much more.
Collagen Makes Your Skin Look Younger
Since collagen protein is mostly known for its skin benefits, let's start off with that.
What you know as signs of aging mostly result from photoaging, where exposure to ultraviolet light causes these signs. This is why researchers tested collagen on mice they exposed to UV light in one study. They observed that mice that were exposed to UV light had thickened skin with less hydration. But this was less with the mice that were given collagen.
If you're worried that's only for mice and not for you... Know that another study was done on humans with advanced signs of aging. This showed how collagen actually improved skin conditions by reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
Loose skin is another sign of aging especially seen in the upper arms. But the same study showed that collagen helps improve skin firmness. It also improved skin hydration, another attribute that diminishes while growing old.
Collagen Can Help You Gain Muscle
Protein is necessary to build muscle. That is why most gym goers who want to bulk up take protein powders and other supplements. However, the most popular supplements are not based on collagen protein.
This is mostly founded on the premise that the contracting parts of the muscles are made up of essential amino acids. That’s why scientists usually recommend taking supplements containing essential amino acids.
Other scientists, however, thought about trying to add supplements containing non-essential amino acids, particularly those found in other muscle parts. The connective tissues around the muscles are made up of proline and glycine, which make up collagen.
Therefore, in 2015, a comprehensive study was published on this particular topic. A group of elderly men were divided into two groups: one group took collagen while the other took placebo. During the course of three months, all of them were asked to do resistance training as well. Results showed that the men who had collagen gained more muscles and muscular strength than those who took placebo. Aside from this, the collagen group lost more fat.
Another study based on this experimented with a collagen amino acid derivative (combination), hydroxyprolylglycine, in test tubes. They saw that it made the muscle cells fuse together faster to form fibers, and they also made these fibers bigger.
Moreover, they found myosin in those same fibers. Myosin is an amino acid that has a role in muscle contractions. If that's not enough, they also found that the amino acid derivative stimulates molecules that are involved in anabolic signaling. Anabolism is the process of forming molecules including muscle tissue formation.
As you can see, collagen is not only good for the skin. It's not only good for the elderly concerned with signs of aging, but also for people who want to build bigger and stronger muscles.
Collagen Helps Ease Joint Pains
Building a strong body does not just involve the muscles. Without strong bones, the body would be a big chunk of meat that wouldn't be able to support itself. And without healthy joints, movement would be very difficult. Collagen is what's holding all of these together.
As you age, however, this protein diminishes so some ailments become common. Osteoporosis and arthritis are two of these.
Thankfully, collagen protein intake has been shown to help counter these conditions. In one study performed with rats, collagen intake showed improvement with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, with 14% being cured of the condition. Improvement was also seen in human subjects during collagen intake.
Collagen hydrolysate was also shown to help with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis treatment in another study.
In addition, for athletes the protein was also found to help ease joint pain that they acquired from performing different sports.
Collagen Helps You Get Better Sleep
The glycine content of collagen has also been found to help with sleep quality. There are several stages of sleep and deep sleep takes place in the last 2 stages. Sometimes, the brain faces difficulty with entering these particular stages. But deep sleep is very important in body recovery and even with growth hormone release necessary for muscle building.
Glycine was found to improve sleep quality in research. This happens because it helps you enter deep sleep faster. The research participants were also found to have more energy in the day and have better mental performances.
Collagen Also Helps with Digestion, Wound Healing, and Weight Loss
Collagen also boasts roles in different bodily functions, one of which is digestion. This protein promotes growth of good bacteria that help digestion of food and battle with other disease-causing bacteria.
As also mentioned with the study on older men, collagen protein helps in fat loss aside from building muscle mass.
Research also shows that it speeds up wound healing, as seen in rats that were given topical and oral collagen. This protein is also involved in all phases of this process. This is why there are some wound dressings that are collagen-based.
So far, collagen protein has been found to have numerous benefits. No wonder it's the most predominant protein in the body! Its function in anti-aging is not shown just through its skin effects.
Building muscles is something hard to achieve by older people... collagen helps with that. Joint pain and conditions are common among this age group but collagen counters them. Many elderly people also have trouble sleeping, but collagen helps you get better sleep for increased energy and better performance.
Benefits are also not just limited to advanced ages but are great for body builders and athletes with collagen's faster healing and joint-pain-relieving effects.
Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals.
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