You’ve probably heard about collagen, bone broth, and/or gelatin as the latest superfood(s) if you’ve been hanging around the natural health world lately—and for good reason.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. There are sixteen different types, but the vast majority in our bodies are Types 1, 2, and 3. Type 2 is especially helpful for joint health and integrity, containing glucosamine and chondroitin. Types 1 and 3 are found in the skin, muscles, bones, connective tissues, blood vessels, and GI tract. They contribute to tissue elasticity and firmness.
Collagen and Cellulite
I wrote here on what cellulite is. Unfortunately, most topical treatments for cellulite have little data to back them—most likely because the molecules necessary to help restore skin integrity are simply too large to penetrate the epidermis.
According to this study, though, dietary supplementation with collagen does reduce the appearance of cellulite. This is likely because Types 1 and 3 collagen increase the dermal density (thickness) of the skin, improving its elasticity and reducing the dimpling effect.
Collagen and Aging Skin
After the age of about 25, collagen production declines, and oxidative damage contributes to collagen breakdown the longer we’re on this planet. This is why most people begin to notice fine lines in their mid to late 20s. While skincare can make a big difference in the appearance of fine lines, there’s little that can be done to curb the collagen decline itself.
Or is there? This study shows a significant improvement in skin elasticity and moisture for women aged 35-55 with collagen supplementation after just eight weeks. These two studies (1, 2) show the same, with different samples and ages of women.
Sources of Collagen
If you’re looking to get more collagen in your diet, bone broth or gelatin are your very best bets. Collagen is found in very high concentration in bones; boiling the bones in water extracts the collagen. This is why when you chill bone broth in the refrigerator, you get a gel-like substance: this is gelatin.
Other collagen-rich foods include eggs and poultry if you’re looking to ingest collagen directly. Another approach is to focus on foods that increase your body’s own production of collagen: particularly those foods high in Vitamin C, such as dark green veggies, citrus fruits, and bell peppers. Vitamin C is necessary to convert your amino acid building blocks (especially proline and lysine) into collagen.
Another option is to supplement with hydrolyzed collagen directly. Here’s the product I recommend!