Last edited, 13 April 2020.
What is Collagen
Collagen is the ‘glue’ that holds the body together. Without collagen, we would literally fall apart. It is the main component of skin.
72% of skin is collagen. It is also abundantly found in bones, muscles, body tissues, tendons and cartilage. Because of its fibrous nature, collagen supports and connects other body tissues and internal organs. The collagen is the one responsible for the good texture, shape, elasticity and suppleness of the skin.
Collagen forms an elaborate matrix that supports the skin and locks in moisture, giving skin its suppleness. Over time, as we use the connective tissue in our skin and throughout the body, it undergoes a change, known as collagen degradation, and this is due to the decrease of our natural collagen production and the natural aging process. The loss of skin structure and volume means that the skin is less able to spring back to its initial positioning after facial expression and as a result wrinkling occurs.
The other factors which are harmful to collagen are smoking and alcohol. There are also some internal body functions like oxidation which affects collagen causing it to break down and be destroyed. Overall, if one has a bad lifestyle – no exercise, not eating the right diet and other bad habits would lead to the natural breakdown and wearing out of collagen inside the body.
The Functions of Collagen in the Human Body
1. Gives Skin its Strength and Elasticity
Collagen makes up 72% of our Skin. Our Skin is like a big bag that wraps all parts of our body tightly. Collagen is the main component that imparts elasticity to the skin and muscles.
2. Strengthens Bones and Prevent Osteoporosis
Our bones contain calcium. Loss of calcium from our teeth may lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Loss of calcium from our bones leads to osteoporosis. Collagen binds calcium and bone cells to prevent calcium loss.
Bones and muscles are also held together by collagen. The collagen here is known as hamstring.
3. Enables Eyes to See and Cornea to retain Transparency
The cornea is a vital component of the eye. The cornea contains collagen fibers that run parallel to each other. This special formation of the collagen fibers enables sight and gives the cornea its transparency.
4. Helps Muscle Cells to Join Together and Imparts Elasticity and Shine
The main components of muscles are actin and myosin. Collagen helps bind cells together and acts as scaffolding for our body. The bone structure formed by collagen molecules helps the body to maintain good posture and imparts flexibility.
5. Protects and Strengthens Internal Organs
The main structures and internal organs in the human body contain collagen. Collagen lies beneath the surface of internal organs, such as stomach and intestines, to protect and strengthen them.
6. Protects Blood Vessel Walls
The internal and external walls of blood vessels in the human body contain collagen. The main function of collagen here is to maintain flexibility and expandability. Blood vessel walls become weakened and easily broken with loss of collagen.
7. Prevent Cancer Metastasis
Sufficient collagen on the outer walls of blood vessels can effectively prevent cancer cells from entering blood vessels and spreading to other parts of the body. At the same time, it can lock in cancer cells, providing a smoother passageway for immune cells to travel to cancer cells and destroy the latter.
Truths about Collagen in Supplementation and Skincare Products
1. Collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed by the skin.
When applied topically, collagen is left unabsorbed on the skin and does not have any effect on wrinkles.
2. Collagen cannot be supplemented through oral
Collagen are huge molecules. Once they are passed through our digestive, they get broken down and are no longer collagen. They are simply proteins.
3. Animal placenta
Collagen from animals are not effective in human! Furthermore it comes with calories, cholesterol and contain animal hormones. Animal hormones have been found to be one of the causes for cancer. The animals may also carry with them bacteria or viruses which may cause serious ill effects when consumed by humans. There is no way a full bacteria or viruses test can be carried out. And not to mention bacteria and viruses mutate very fast.
4. Collagen through injection.
These are fillers, not collagen. The effect is not permanent and risk infection, allergies or immunoreaction.
The only way to increase our collagen level is to have a diet rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals from plant foods. Plant foods high in antioxidants and phytochemicals enhance our body’s natural production of collagen! They slow down our aging process and enhance cells regeneration within our body.
What are Some Good Plant sources of Antioxiants?
Plant foods that are high in antioxidants are Cactus, Cactus Fruit, Ginseng, Ginseng berry, Grape seed, Seaweed, Rose, Blueberry and many more.
What is Nutritional Immunology’s take on Collagen Supplementation?
Consuming any man-made substance or isolated chemicals without any side effects is virtually impossible. This is because nature is complex beyond the comprehension of science.
Animal products come with animal hormones and saturated fats and contribute to the cause of cancer. Wholesome plant foods are the safest sources of all biochemicals that the human body needs for healing, repair and maintenance.
Nutritional Immunology advocates eating plant foods rich in antioxidants to stimulate the human body’s natural production of collagen.