Recently, the health and wellness industry has begun to recognize a new way of looking at movement and the body’s overall support system. In the past, we’ve learned that our bodies are made up of 206 bones, 12 organs, 640 muscles and skin. Many traditional weight training methods support the idea that movement comes from few muscles working in isolation. We made advancements in how we can change the way the body looks, however, we had little improvement in how we can change the way the body feels.
Understanding now that complex movement doesn’t have any type of isolation, we’ve identified an intermediary between the skin and the musculature in the body: The Fascial System. This system creates lines of tension and support (fascial web) across the body and is responsible for how the body reacts during complex movement. Bone, blood vessels, and cartilage are also part of this system, as they are made of similar substances. Therefore, the health of the fascial system determines how we experience aging in respects to joint pain, instability, flexibility, mobility. In comes Collagen.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the main structural protein associated with fascia in the body. It is the most abundant protein, making up 25%-35% of the whole body protein content. Like we mentioned before, collagen tissues include bone, cartilage, blood vessels, intervertebral discs, as well as the fascial web. The five most common types of collagen are associated with the following tissues (1):
I) Skin, Tendons, Vascular Ligature, Bone
III) Reticular Lamina (Inner Linings)
IV) Forms Basal Lamina (Outer Linings)
V) Cell Surfaces
Collagen and Skin Health
One of the main things we notice while aging is how our skin may change. We start to notice wrinkles, dryness and changes in elasticity. A double blind, placebo controlled study by The Department of Dermatology in Germany, showed that 2.5-5 grams of collagen used among women aged 35-55 once daly for eight weeks significantly improved all of symptoms mentioned. Regular collagen intake could be the secret to the vitality of your skin! (2)
Collagen and Joint Care
Another “symptom” of aging we tend to suffer is chronic joint pain and stiffness. A study by The Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Hospital in Boston (3) showed that supplementation of type II collagen for 90 days showed significant improvement in the number of swollen joints, tender joints, and morning stiffness compared to the placebo group. Of the 28 people in the supplement group, 4 of them had complete resolution of symptoms. Here’s the kicker; all patients in the study were suffering from severe cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis, a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and limited motion/function of joints.
Why do we need Collagen Supplements?
If you didn’t know already, the “Modern Western Diet” leaves a lot of America overweight and laden with preventable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and stroke. Not only aren’t we likely getting sufficient amino acid intake for the synthesis of collagen, the physical stress our body takes on releases hormones that halt the production of collagen (cortisol). Collagen supplementation assures that you have the building blocks necessary for the formation of newer, healthier tissue.
Some other factors that inhibit collagen formation include; smoking, too much sun, emotional stress, and poor hydration. Exercise stimulates new growth of collagen and prevents atrophy (loss of muscle mass), according to MD, Rebecca Booth. (4) This means we should also focus on stress management, hydration, and frequent movement to compound the effects of collagen supplementation.
Where to Buy
There are now plenty of Collagen supplements on the market for you to choose from. If you go to amazon, you’ll see anything from fish to beef collagen supplements. In my opinion, I would stick to grass-feed, organic, beef collagen. Be wary of seafood collagen if you know you have seafood allergy. Also, those with egg allergy should check to see if collagen comes from egg. To be safe, you can purchase some from the godfather of the collagen revolution, Dr. Axe!
-Howard Bowens III