The world is going collagen crazy, but not in a plump-your-lips “Real Housewives” kind of way.

Collagen is one of the buzziest ingredients on the lips of scientists, researchers, aesthetic professionals, and especially consumers…literally! Advocates of a “collagen diet” say adding this natural protein to food and beverages can slow down the ageing process, keep skin beautiful, maintain gut health, and more.

Could this be true? We did some research and here’s what we discovered…

Collagen: What Is It & Why You Want It

Collagen is a connective tissue protein that occurs naturally in the human body. It’s everywhere, in fact! It’s in your muscles, digestive system, skin, bones, blood vessels, and tendons. A little known fact is that there are at least 16 different types of collagen within the human body. It is also present in food and supplements.

Along with other important jobs, collagen keeps skin strong and elastic, and able to replace dead skin cells with healthy new ones. Your body is constantly creating new collagen until… (insert dramatic music)…we reach the age of about 35. At that time, collagen production begins to taper off naturally. Adding insult to injury, the collagen that is still produced is of a lower quality than in our youth.

Without sufficient collagen the hold down the fort (and hold up the skin), we become more likely to develop:

  • Wrinkles
  • Loose flesh
  • Uneven skin texture
  • Cellulite
  • Stretch marks
  • Joint pain
  • Digestive problems

A double-scoop of powdered collagen adds around 20 grams of protein to your food or beverage, but so do many protein powders. Collagen, however, is more versatile. It has no taste and dissolves easily in cold or hot liquids. Furthermore, heat does not affect its benefits. No wonder celebrities love it.

Collagen Choir: 4 Celebrities that Can’t Get Enough

Nothing helps a trend grow like a celebrity endorsement, and these four women are taking collagen into the spotlight with them for all to see:

  • Jennifer Anniston – One of everyone’s favourite “Friends,” Anniston says she loves a protein shake with collagen peptides. Her recipe includes fruits, green veggies, maca powder, a bit of cacao and a “collagen peptide that I’ve been loving,” she reports. “My nails are stronger and there’s a healthier glow. It’s sort of that working from the inside-out thing.”
  • Kourtney Kardashian – The I’ll-try-anything-to-be-beautiful K-girl is firmly on the collagen bandwagon. She takes supplements on an empty stomach as soon as she wakes up each morning. She told Insider that her habit provides “a ton of health benefits that affect everything from your skin to the way your body processes nutrients.”
  • Tamara Mellon – The British designer and co-founder of Jimmy Choo loves luxury and collagen, too. Mellon is a vegetarian, so protein is important to her well being. She stays slim with a rigorous morning workout followed by a blueberry/raspberry smoothie with collagen peptide powder.
  • Busy Phillipps – The “It” girl from Dawson’s Creek and other top TV series enjoys a daily coffee-collagen drink. “I use coffee, grass-fed butter, collagen powder, protein powder, and MCT oil,” reports Cosmopolitan. She also adds a little vanilla bean “if I’m feeling sassy.” She credits her collagen regimen with providing “a huge impact on my skin’s overall texture and smoothness” and giving her the energy to be a busy Busy.

You can add collagen powder to a plain glass of water, sprinkle it on a salad, and stir it into spaghetti sauce. The folks at Daily Burn have 5 Creative Collagen Powder Recipes we think are delish.

Naysayers: It’s an Issue of Biochemistry

“Supplements are the Wild West,” Self Magazine, Dr Dendy Engleman told Self Magazine. “They are not well regulated, so you can pretty much claim a lot of things that aren’t substantiated in science or in proof.” Self also notes that it is unclear whether the collagen or another ingredient in a supplement (such as an antioxidant) is responsible for any improvement in skin tone and texture. Self concludes: “Sipping on collagen supplements daily isn’t a reliable route to better skin. You’re better off using sunscreen and retinol on a regular basis.”

Another concerning question about the value of collagen supplementation hinges on how it is absorbed by the body. Non-believers say the collagen will be digested in the GI tract. “It isn’t built to survive the massive pH changes in the gut,” Dr Adam Friedman told Rodale Organic Life Magazine. This observation is echoed in a 2002 study which found that digestive enzymes in the gut break down hydrolysed collagen, the type of collagen found in most supplements.

Make an Informed Decision about Collagen

Team Costhetics feels that more research is needed before we can say definitely, “All hail, collagen supplements.” Certainly, some scientists have praised collagen supplements as elixirs for the skin, nail, and hair health, and there seems to be very little evidence that collagen supplementation is dangerous. When you purchase supplements, look for products that are derived from grass-fed cows, pasture-raised chickens, or other healthy livestock. Vegans and vegetarians can look for plant-based collagen supplements.

If you decide to add hydrolysed collagen to your diet, take things slowly. As with other good-health foods like probiotics, kombucha, and kefir, adding too much collagen too quickly may lead to digestive upset. Take it slow. You’re in this for the long hall, and so are we.

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