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WHAT IS COLLAGEN?
by Dara Winters
If you’ve heard anything before about collagen, it’s probably its status as the body’s most abundant protein, or its claimed benefits for the skin and hair. What you might not have known so much about, is collagen’s potential relevance to supporting your immune health.
A key “glue” for the body
Let’s start from the very beginning, by explaining what collagen is. Given that it makes up about a third of the body’s total protein composition, you can probably imagine that it’s pretty important.
Sure enough, collagen is a key building block of all manner of body parts – including not only the skin, but also the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It’s also present in the likes of teeth, corneas and blood vessels.
One easy way to think of collagen is as a “glue” holding much of the body together. Sure enough, for thousands of years, it was literally used to make glue, and the word “collagen” is derived from the Greek word “kolla”, which means – yes, you’ve guessed it – glue.
Collagen could be more important to your immunity than you think
The above would admittedly be a simplistic way of describing what collagen does in the body, given the variety of functions that it fulfils, ranging from strengthening the bones to helping the blood clotting process.
But for anyone looking to consume the right immune support drink and take other steps to support their body’s defences, there are several big reasons to care about collagen.
One of those is the fact that the skin is an important external barrier to pathogens, effectively serving as one of your immune system’s first lines of defence. So, whatever you can do to support the maintenance of healthy skin, especially at this time, has to be a good thing.
Then, there’s the link between collagen and vitamin C. Collagen’s initial form is procollagen, which the body creates by combining two amino acids – glycine and proline. Vitamin C is used in this process, which helps to explain why so many people specifically take vitamin C for collagen synthesis.
But it’s not just by toughening up your skin to help fend off those foreign nasties, that collagen can support your immune health. After all, this protein holds together so many other parts of the body that help to keep you free of illness, such as the gut and the networks that white blood cells and other disease-fighting cells travel through.
Don’t, then, underestimate collagen’s role!
With options for getting more collagen into your diet ranging from the taking of oral supplements to the consumption of collagen-rich foods such as bone broth, chicken, eggs, garlic and leafy greens, you don’t necessarily need to alter your habits much to bolster your body’s collagen production.
Collagen is, in short, an important part of the puzzle if you are to not only look better, but also feel and function better in the months and years to come.
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