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The curious case of collagen

What is this collagen that celebrities are swearing by? Is it a potion of health or a youth elixir? Experts decode this new fitness fad.

fitness Updated: Jul 23, 2018 17:51 IST
Susan Jose
Susan Jose
Collagen,Halle Berry,Celebrity Fitness
Collagen helps slow down the ageing process.(Photo: Istock; For representational purposes only)

Some time ago actor Halle Berry, who is one of the poster kids for age-defying physique, revealed her fitness secret in a recent Instagram post. She attributed her covetous health to collagen. She even shared her personal bone broth recipe in the same post. Even Jennifer Aniston had recently shared that she adds collagen powder to her morning smoothie.

We spoke to experts to know more about the effects of collagen on our overall well-being.

What is collagen?

“Collagen is a protein. In simple terms, they are the building blocks of our skin, muscles and joints,” says Dr Geeta Fazalbhoy, dermatologist, Skin N You Clinic.

There are various types of collagen. One that makes up the skin and muscles is the type 1 collagen. Being a protein, it helps strengthen and impart elasticity to tissues. Also, it replaces dead cells, and is basically the glue that holds the body together.

Additionally, collagen helps slow down the ageing process. “With age, we all tend to develop wrinkles, sagging skin, weaker cartilage, etc. This is because collagen levels in our body starts depleting.

Depending on people’s lifestyles, people smoke, suffer from diabetes, and are exposed to a lot of sun. In these cases, collagen in the body depletes at a faster rate. Proper collagen intake will of course not halt the ageing process but it does decrease the intensity of the process and helps maintain a youthful look,” says Dr Saurabh Shah, dermatologist, Bhatia Hospital.

This #FitnessFriday let’s have fun while we work out! Trust me, I know how hard it is to get motivated at times, but when my workout is fun, it’s a whole lot easier! Every once in a while Peter and I just need to have a good time and get recharged! So today we share some ways to work out with a partner and have fun too!! I also want to share one of my secret weapons that I think has helped me defy my age and look and feel younger than my years. The secret is Bone Broth! It’s made with bones that are simmered for at least 8 hours. I like to slow cook my bones in my crock pot for 24 hours. The purpose is to cook the bones until they produce gelatin collagen and trace minerals that support the immune system and helps with the development of healthy joints, bones, ligaments and tendons as well as hair and SKIN! These nutrients are considered "beauty foods" because they help the body with proper structural alignment and beautiful skin and hair. The collagen in #bonebroth also helps with digestion and heals your gut lining and reduces intestinal inflammation. It’s important to find bones from humanely raised healthy animals. 100% grass-fed cows, bison, lamb and organic chicken bones. Wild game like deer and antelope are great as well. You can drink it plain or how I like it with a little salt, ground pepper and crushed garlic. I know for some this may sound nasty as hell, but I promise you, it’s not bad at all and drinking bone both will slow down your inevitable race to the finish line! Look for the bone broth recipe and fun exercises in my fitness highlight at the top of my profile. Enjoy 💪🏽❤️ . Exercises: -Light as a feather 20 jumps for 3/5 sets One person working core the other working legs cardio and core -Stickem up Both working core and upper body 20 reps per side for 3/5 sets -London bridge One works chest triceps The other works legs and cardio 10 reps in each direction for 3/5 sets -Rocking chair Both workout biceps, core and legs do 10 rep per arm/20 reps total for 3/5 reps

A post shared by Halle Berry (@halleberry) on

Methods of intake

Dr Shuba Dharmana, dermatologist, Lejeune Medspa, lists three primary ways of collagen intake:

Oral: Sachets, powders and capsules

Topical: Creams containing collagen can be applied on skin

Chemical peels: A chemical exfoliation of the skin using alpha or beta hydroxy acid by dermatologists.

However, it is essential to first consult and know what is best suited for one’s needs. “Hydrolysed collagen is made of much smaller molecules, hence the claim that they can make a better difference than non-hydrolysed collagen supplements. Large collagen molecules can’t be absorbed in the gut and can’t enter the blood stream. Therefore, if you are looking at collagen supplements, hydrolysed collagen is probably better,” says Indrayani Pawar, dietician, Hinduja Healthcare

Surgical, adding, “However, oral supplements of collagen are still controversial as there are no satisfactory studies yet that prove it can be completely utilised by the skin and hair.”

Rather than going for collagen supplements, Pawar suggests one to include foods that can help maintain the integrity of collagen in the body. These would be foods high in vitamin A (carrots, papayas, mangoes), foods high in vitamin C (citrus fruits and berries), green leafy vegetables and soya bean.

Non- vegetarians can opt for fish containing omega 3 fatty acids (mackerel, tuna, salmon, etc.).

When to avoid?

Just like any other food items, collagen may have side effects when consumed without prescription. Dr Deepti Bagree, nutritionist, Reset: Holistic Living Concepts shares some of the harms of excessive collagen in one’s system:

1. Collagen derived from marine sources can increase calcium in the body leading to health issues. Marine derived supplements may lead to aftertaste leaving an unpleasant taste on tongue

2 Individuals allergic to egg, shellfish may show hypersensitivity reactions after consuming the supplements from these sources.

3. Long-term effect on pregnant women and children has not been studied and they should best avoid this. People who have kidney disorders should also avoid it.

The collagen test

“One should perform a skin test to determine if they are sensitive to collagen. During the test, small amount of collagen is injected in to the forearm and the area is then monitored for roughly a month. If swelling, redness or itching occurs, than the patient is probably not an appropriate candidate for collagen treatment,” says Dr Saumya Shetty Hegde, dermatologist, Roots Skin Clinic.

With inputs from Dr Zamurrud Patel, dietician, Global Hospitals and Poonam Pawar, nutritionist,

Follow @htlifeandstylefor more
The author tweets@iamsusanjose

First Published: Jul 23, 2018 17:50 IST