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The Science Behind Collagen, Sodium, and Intermittent Fasting

Introduction


Collagen has been gaining popularity in recent years, thanks to its numerous benefits for our skin, hair, nails, and overall health. However, there's more to collagen than just its cosmetic advantages. In this blog, we'll explore what collagen is, why it's essential, and why you must consider taking minerals alongside collagen. Additionally, we'll delve into the intriguing connection between collagen, sodium, and intermittent fasting, and how these elements can work together to improve your well-being.


What is Collagen?


Collagen is a vital protein in our bodies, making up a significant portion of our skin, tendons, cartilage, and bones. Collagen is made up of predominantly (57%) THREE amino acids:

  • Glycine

  • Proline

  • Hydroxyproline

If we look at nature, we see that in the wild, scavengers leave behind only the bones of an animal, emphasising the importance of collagen consumption in our evolutionary history. Collagen is not just about aesthetics; it plays a fundamental role in our health.



Why Take Collagen?


As we age, the body undergoes a transformation in its collagen production and maintenance. The math surrounding collagen consumption doesn't quite add up. We need approximately 12 grams of collagen per day, but our bodies can only produce 3 grams of it. The average person's diet provides around 1.5 to 3 grams of collagen, leaving a deficit of 6 to 7.5 grams. To meet our glycine needs from collagen, we require around 12 grams of collagen daily. However, considering the unknown collagen recycling rate, achieving optimal glycine intake may necessitate as much as 36 grams of collagen daily!


Collagen in the skin begins to deplete at a faster rate than it can be replaced. This depletion is a result of various factors, including the behaviour of fibroblasts. These essential cells, responsible for collagen production, start to produce lower levels of collagen and higher levels of collagen-degrading enzymes as we get older.


The aging process takes a toll on collagen levels.

"Around the age of 25, collagen levels in the skin start to decline at a gradual rate of approximately 1% per year. However, this decline accelerates dramatically during menopause. Studies indicate that during this phase of life, the skin can experience a significant loss of collagen, ranging from 30% to 50%."

This rapid depletion during menopause underscores the importance of collagen supplementation and maintenance for skin health and overall well-being.



In my opinion, one of the primary reasons to incorporate collagen into your diet is for its glycine content. Glycine, an amino acid, is essential for various bodily functions, including the production of the powerful antioxidant glutathione. While our bodies can synthesise glycine, certain situations make it an essential dietary component.


Benefits of Collagen


Collagen consumption offers numerous benefits, including the maintenance of lean muscle mass and blood sugar regulation. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass, increasing the risk of various health issues, including type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Collagen, with its abundant glycine content, can be protein-sparing, allowing for less use of essential amino acids, which can then be used for performance gains. Studies have even shown that taking collagen on its own, without whey protein, enhances the anabolic response to weightlifting.


A pre-workout for seniors may include:

  • Naru Revive

  • Vitamin C

  • Collagen or Pure Glycine



This formular can help to optimise muscle health. Low glycine levels have been linked to diabetes onset, indicating a potential causation, and low circulating glycine levels predict diabetes risk.


What Diets Need Collagen?


If you consume a lot of lean meat, especially in a carnivore or animal-based diet, it's crucial to supplement with collagen. Meat is rich in methionine, while collagen is abundant in glycine. Animal studies have shown that excessive methionine intake can lead to health issues but balancing it with glycine can mitigate negative effects of the methionine. So if you are eating LEAN meats, then you should consider a bone broth drink after, or adding in collagen powder.


What Collagen should I buy?


To make collagen more bioactive and easily absorbed by the body, manufacturers use an enzymatic hydrolysis process to break down the tough raw collagen material. This process results in hydrolysed collagen, also known as collagen peptides, which have a lower molecular weight.


These collagen peptides can be readily absorbed through the gut wall in the small intestines, where most nutrient absorption occurs. Once absorbed, they are distributed throughout the body, influencing cellular activity. For instance, they can stimulate fibroblasts to produce more hyaluronic acid, which hydrates the skin.


Studies have identified bioactive peptides in human blood after the ingestion of protein hydrolysates over time, suggesting their potential benefits for the body and skin.



Collagen and Sodium: The Connection


Sodium plays a crucial role in collagen metabolism and overall health. It allows for the absorption of vitamin C and drives its distribution to various tissues in the body. A low-salt diet can worsen vitamin C status, leading to low sodium levels, creating a problematic cycle. Low-sodium diets can result in negative sodium balance, the removal of sodium, calcium, and magnesium from bones, and negative calcium and magnesium balance.


In summary, low-salt diets can deplete sodium, calcium, and magnesium levels, increasing the risk of bone density loss and fractures. Therefore, it's essential not to feel guilty about adding salt to your diet.


Intermittent Fasting and Sodium


Intermittent fasting, a popular dietary approach, can influence sodium levels in the body. When you fast, your body may lose sodium through various processes. While fasting can have many benefits, it's crucial to monitor your sodium intake and consider supplementing with minerals to maintain a healthy sodium balance.



Conclusion


Collagen is not just a beauty supplement; it plays a critical role in our overall health. Glycine, a key component of collagen, has far-reaching benefits, including muscle maintenance and blood sugar regulation. To fully harness these benefits, it's essential to ensure you get enough glycine from collagen, either through dietary sources or supplements.


Additionally, understanding the connection between collagen, sodium, and intermittent fasting can help you make informed dietary choices. Sodium is crucial for collagen metabolism, and fasting can influence sodium levels in the body, so balancing these factors is essential for maintaining optimal health. Don't forget to prioritise your mineral intake and consider supplementing, if necessary, as this can help counteract potential imbalances caused by dietary restrictions or fasting. In the pursuit of better health and longevity, collagen and minerals are valuable allies on your journey.


References:


Li P, Wu G. Roles of dietary glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline in collagen synthesis and animal growth. Amino Acids. 2018 Jan;50(1):29-38. doi: 10.1007/s00726-017-2490-6. Epub 2017 Sep 20. PMID: 28929384.


Laurie Arias. Collagen supplements: trend or truth for the treatment of ageing skin in menopausal women? The Journal of Aesthetic nursing. 02 November 2021


León-López A, Morales-Peñaloza A, Martínez-Juárez VM, Vargas-Torres A, Zeugolis DI, Aguirre-Álvarez G. Hydrolyzed collagen—sources and applications. Molecules. 2019; 24:(22) https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fmolecules24224031


Sato K. The presence of food-derived collagen peptides in human body-structure and biological activity. Food Funct. 2017; 8:(12)4325-4330 https://doi.org/10.1039/c7fo01275f


Harris ED, Rayton JK, Balthrop JE, DiSilvestro RA, Garcia-de-Quevedo M. Copper and the synthesis of elastin and collagen. Ciba Found Symp. 1980; 79:163-182 https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470720622.ch9


DiNicolantonio, James; Land, Siim. The Collagen Cure: The Forgotten Role of Glycine and Collagen for Optimal Health and Longevity (p. 49). Kin

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