COLLAGEN: THE STUFF THAT BINDS AND SECURES.
You may have recently been reading about how amazing collagen is, and how it is beneficial to the body but may have wondered what exactly is this stuff of joints, skin and hair etc.
Collagen is the connective tissue in the body. It makes up our tendons that hold the muscles firmly to the bones, articulates the joints and forms the basis of ligaments that hold our joints together. It adheres cells together of our skin, the lining of the gut, respiratory system and all the fascia that hold our organs in place. It also forma the matrix upon which our bones are made with the calcium and magnesium and all the fabulous minerals that give us our structure. It even strengthens our hair along with silica (that is the basis of sand and windows) to keep it lush and strong. Indeed, collagen is the ‘glue’ and structure that allows us to be strong flexible and basically not fall apart.
Now we produce collagen very well when young but as we age, our production is greatly reduced, especially after the age of 40 and do need to start supplementing our diet to keep our joints nimble and strong and skin elasticity and structure. This reduction of collagen can result if narrowing of the joint space and therefore lead to Osteo Arthritis gut issues and weaker bones.
You may have been to an Asian restaurant for a Pho/soup and n
oticed there are ones with tendon that usually makes some cringe at the thought. However, when cooked for 48 hours with bones etc, they soften and become digestible and allow us to absorb the collagen that it is along with many other minerals. This is the basis too of many bone broth suggestions you may have heard and indeed why the best soups are made of whole chicken or joints, not just the muscle that has good iron and protein, but none of the collagen and trace minerals to keep our joints healthy.
For many who don’t have a slow cooker or the time. There are now many collagen and bone broths now available at our clinic and good food stores. For the vegetarians out there, there is collagen available that is made from the lining of an egg (yes, the connective tissue). And for vegans keeping conscious of a wide variety of good quality proteins that include amino acid peptides such as glycine, proline and amyline as well as good sources of zinc and silica (found in good amounts in sesame seeds, especially black ones, nuts and seeds). It is worth keeping an eye out for a good protein supplement that has bio-available amino acids to maximize your own production of collagen.
For all the above ways to boost our collagen levels require good amounts of Vitamin C and zinc that enable maximum absorption and synthesis of collagen and keeping active and flexible by stretching and weight bearing such as yoga, going to the gym and squatting to keep the knees nimble into your older years.
Until next time
Dr Angela Palmer Chinese Medicine.