Want to lose weight and get glowing skin? Join the club.
Increasing your collagen intake might be the answer, says best-selling author Dr Josh Axe in his new book The Collagen Diet.
Through various research studies and food plans, Dr Axe has pinpointed collagen to have invaluable benefits including weight control and clearer skin.
Having gone through his own personal journey with collagen after he found its benefits to improve his gut health and irritable bowel problems, he has since identified collagen to be the "missing link to modern health".
So, what is collagen?
Collagen is a strong fibrous protein woven into your body’s thread of tissues, all inter-connected like one big fusion of wires.
"Collagen is the glue that holds you together", says Dr Axe.
Naturally found in our bodies, from skin to nails to bones, muscles, blood vessels and in lining of our gut, collagen is hidden everywhere throughout our bodies.
For a small substance it ranks highly for anti-ageing benefits which is why its found in so many beauty products promoting healthy and radiant skin.
Research has shown collagen can:
- Boost your immune system
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Prevent aches and pains associated with ageing
- Regenerate new tissue
- Maintain healthy hair and nails
- Aid with persistent gastrointestinal symptoms and food allergies/sensitivities
Besides these glorious benefits, it can also support weight loss and help you to achieve glowing skin.
How does collagen affect your skin?
Collagen being the strong fibrous protein that it is, helps to maintain your skin’s elasticity and springiness by working alongside the protein elastin which is found mainly in the dermis layer of your skin – that’s the toughest layer of your skin that helps keep tissue strong and flexible.
But as we age, these features unfortunately start to lose their benefits as your body’s natural collagen reserves start to decline from the start of your mid-twenties at a rate of one percent per year.
Collagen is the glue that holds you together
Before you know it by the time you’re in your early fifties and above, research has shown that there is a significant decrease in the rate of collagen production by 75 per cent compared to those younger than thirty.
Lifestyle factors can play a key role in reducing your natural collagen levels, such as increased sun exposure, smoking, stress and poor gut health.
Although hard to resist, high sugar consumption is one of the main culprits in destroying your body’s natural collagen production.
How can collagen help with weight loss?
Often weight loss can lead to more sagging skin.
But adding collagen to your diet can protect your muscle tissue as you shed pounds – and help you keep the weight off for good, asserts Dr Axe.
Research published in the American Journal of Physiology- Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology found that rats given a diet high in glycine (an anti-ageing building block found in collagen) were protected from accumulating fat in the abdominal area.
The study also showed the rats were able to break down fat at a higher rate, implying the role of collagen may affect your weight in a positive way by also heavily reducing your risk of developing serious diseases associated with extreme weight gain such as diabetes and heart disease.
Collagen rich foods for weight loss
A low-carb, low-sugar diet rich in collagen is the best way to reduce the deep fat that surrounds the organs in your belly known as visceral fat – this is the kind of fat most often found around the middle of the body.
This kind of fat can put pressure on your collagen-rich tissues such as those found in knee and spine cartilage, causing collagen production to diminish at a quicker rate than normal.
High levels of this abdominal fat can also cause a spike in inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that promote inflammation, leading to a greater chance of developing inflammatory diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. These proteins can also damage your natural production of collagen too.
The foods to avoid which increase inflammation, destroy your collagen production and also reduce the quantity of collagen in your body are:
- Refined carbs such as crackers, cereal, pasta, bread and cookies.
- Processed meats such as, ham, sausages, bacon which include nitrates and other chemicals that also give rise to inflammation
- Fried foods
- Fizzy drinks and sweetened beverages
To achieve a diet high in collagen and anti-inflammatory whole foods pack your meals with the following:
- Brightly coloured vegetables such as butternut squash, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers and sweet potatoes
- Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and bok choy.
- Fermented foods and vegetables such as kombucha, kefir and tempeh
- Free-radical fighting fruit such as cherries, grapes, avocados, kiwi and apples
- Pasture-raised poultry such as chicken or turkey. A 100 gram ounce serving provides 21 to 24 grams of protein
- Plant proteins such as legumes, nuts, beans and whole grains, especially if your vegan or vegetarian
- Oils such as coconut or extra virgin olive oil
- Bone broth (either chicken, beef or fish)
- Wild caught salmon fillets
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