All health and wellness trends point towards collagen—not the kind that’s already in your body, but the kind you buy at a health store. Like most fads, science doesn’t entirely back up the use of collagen, but this product is still extremely popular. Some people put on collagen face cream whereas others try to eat it naturally in certain foods. However, the people with the most extreme desire to be healthy are eating collagen powder in shakes and pills.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the protein that you have the most of in your body.
“It’s one of the major building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen is also found in many other body parts, including blood vessels, corneas, and teeth,” as Healthline writes. It’s basically the glue that holds everything together.
More specifically, there are many different types of collagen that serve different purposes in the body. For example, type I Collagen gives structure to your skin. However, it’s enough to say that Collagen is really important to the human body in all of its forms.
Why are people eating collagen?
People are buying collagen supplements and eating collagen protein powder to look and feel healthy, young, and fit. But, how would eating it do all that?
The definition of healthy is about more than just looking good lately. It’s also about feeling good. For example, collagen is becoming popular because of its emphasis on “gut health.” The amino acids in collagen reduce inflammation in the gut and as a result, help you digest food easier and faster. Some consumers take this to mean that collagen is a weight loss supplement. While this isn’t exactly true, it can promote healthy day-to-day digestion.
Eating collagen was also used in studies in the early 1990s and in 2009 in order to help relieve pain. Both studies specifically focused on joint pain from arthritis. Scientists don’t know exactly why, but the participants reported less joint pain after taking collagen supplements. As a result, people with and without arthritis are eating collagen to hopefully decrease their inflammation and help them feel pain-free.
Getting older decreases the amount and quality of collagen that your body has. As a result, tons of brands market collagen-infused materials to fight aging and wrinkles. While not all medical professionals subscribe to it, there was a study that found eating collagen, specifically Pure Gold Collagen®, successful at minimizing wrinkles and skin dryness. These results provide some evidence for the youthful benefits of eating collagen.
This study also found more collagen in the bodies of the subjects, which suggests that the body can absorb ingested collagen for skincare purposes. However, this particular brand features type I collagen, which might have some significance as compared to the other types.
However, more research needs to be done in future studies. Medical professionals cannot yet back up the idea of collagen making people’s skin look and feel younger.
Protein powders and supplements are mainly on the market for people who work out a lot. This way, when they burn calories and need to recover, they can get protein quickly and efficiently through protein shakes. This, in turn, builds muscle, which makes people look fit.
So, eating collagen protein powder is a convenient way to build muscle. The real attraction to collagen, though, is that this protein powder applies to a wider range of bodily recovery. This is because it is the base of so many other parts of the body. Logically, collagen protein powder would help your hair, teeth, and skin look and feel better too. People want strong and fit bodies, not just muscle.
Does it work?
Unfortunately, like most health fads, there is no definite answer to this question. The one problem that scientists have with eating collagen is that it does not absorb into your body in the same way that it does when it’s produced by your body. This is because the collagen supplements go through your digestive tract, which collagen doesn’t do in your body naturally. Eating it does not necessarily translate to your body producing more of it. It could, like a lot of vitamin supplements, go right through you.
Instead of eating collagen, doctors recommend adding it into your diet naturally. For example, vitamin C helps your body produce collagen. So, eating more foods with vitamin C, like citrus fruits, will increase the collagen in your body more than a collagen supplement will.