Collagen is the most abundant protein present in the body. This fibrous protein provides structure to our body. Collagen protein contains long strands of fibrous tissue which forms the building blocks of our cartilage, skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, etc. It acts as a glue holding all these things together.
In order to produce collagen, our body needs several essential nutrients like vitamin C, copper, proline and glycine amino acids. As we grow old, the production of collagen in our body declines. Some of the other factors which lead to an early reduction in collagen in our body is smoking, stress, unhealthy eating habits, excess intake of sugar-based foods, beverages, protein-deficient diets, exposure to harmful UV rays of the sun, chemicals, toxins and environmental pollutants.
Let us look at some of the important roles which collagen play in our body.
1. Maintains skin integrity – Collagen is present in abundance in our skin. It helps in maintaining the hydration and tightness of the skin. Lack of collagen leads to dry, scaly skin and the early appearance of fines lines and wrinkles.
2. Keep joints healthy – Collagen is needed to form the connective tissue and maintain joint lubrication. As collagen decreases with age, the lubrication and flexibility of joints also decrease resulting in joint pain, inflammation and degenerative joint disorders like osteoarthritis. Therefore, it is important to maintain collagen levels in the body so as to combat inflammation, prevent knee and joint disorders.
3. Promote muscle mass – Collagen is a protein that is made up of amino acids. Collagen helps maintain muscle mass and strength. It connects our muscles to muscles and bone to muscles. Hence it helps in keeping our muscle strength and function correctly.
To conclude, collagen is linked with a variety of health benefits. It keeps our skin, joints, muscle, bones and cartilage healthy. To prevent collagen from declining, the diet should be rich in foods like eggs, chicken, bone broth, fish, citrus fruits like orange, lemon, amla, guava, kiwi and grapefruit.
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