Health Column by Cameron Olsen ND
Collagen: the essential protein for the human body
I ask you more this week with my text, but I do not want to treat you as if you do not possess the capacity to understand the principles essential to your health. This is why, today, I am embarking on the explanation of a fundamental food for the body, namely protein, more precisely collagen. Collagen is often recognized for its benefits on joints, hair, nails, bones, etc. In the next lines, you will learn more about how our body assimilates proteins.
The role of proteins in our body is indispensable. In fact, proteins are essentially building blocks that serve to hold our tissues together. When we eat protein, the body first breaks these proteins down into short chains of amino acids (peptides) and then rebuilds the proteins to meet specific body needs. In other words, the body cannot assimilate proteins as ingested, it must transform them into chains of amino acids. Whereas collagen ingested in the form of supplements is already a mixture of amino acids ready to be sent to our tissues. Thus, the ratio of energy spent to assimilate a protein demands more of it from our body than a collagen supplement which is already ready to be assimilated.
We regularly hear that it is important to eat protein, but do we really know why? Proteins are essential to the body since our bones and our connective tissues are composed of 90% collagen while our skin is 70%. Until our twenties, our collagen reserves are supported by our ability to produce it. On the other hand, when we reach our forties, our loss of collagen exceeds our ability to produce it. In our sixties, unfortunately, we are no longer able to maintain our reserves at all. In short, our body is deficient.
A collagen deficiency can also be aggravated by environmental, emotional, dietary, etc. factors. All of its elements contribute to the aging process, joint pain, brittle and dull hair and a lack of collagen is well associated with thin and wrinkled skin.
Now, how are collagen supplements fundamental?
As explained above, the body does not use proteins, but rather it uses amino acids in chains (peptides) in order to be able to manufacture its proteins. The hydrolyzation process makes the collagen completely digestible and peptide. So the body doesn’t need to break down protein, one less step! Hydrolyzation therefore makes the collagen completely bioavailable (digestible and absorbable).
This is the functional aspect of collagen.
In short, collagen is a rich source of glutamic acid (glutamine), an essential amino acid well known for its repairing effects on the lining of the digestive tract. Glutamine restores the villi that form the sides of our digestive tract, which are made from collagen. All of this has the effect of helping the body treat autoimmune diseases by reducing the permeability of the intestinal walls.
This is why I always recommend taking collagen instead of protein powders.
Next week I’ll explain the types of collagen, what each is for and how to calculate our protein needs.
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