Collagen is the most important protein of connective tissue. It is produced by the body’s own reserves, but for its full synthesis, sufficient amounts of amino acids are needed. The most convenient source is food containing collagen. The list of foods includes foods of animal origin: meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
Why collagen is needed
Connective tissue has many functions in the body. It is the basis of the inner layer of the skin (dermis) and forms ligaments, tendons, and fascia.
An important feature of this type of tissue is a large amount of intercellular substance and a relatively small amount of cells. The basis of the intercellular substance is collagen.
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The effect of this protein is most noticeable on the skin, so cosmetic products often contain collagen for facial skin. The normal content of protein in the dermis provides skin elasticity, smoothness, and rapid healing of minor injuries. With a lack of collagen, wrinkles appear, the skin becomes flabby, and it is often left with long unhealed traces of scratches, pimples, and other defects.
It is often recommended to eat red vegetables to improve the appearance of the skin. These foods are a valuable source of vitamins, but there is not much protein in them. They can be used as a supplement to the diet.
Collagen is equally important for the joints. It determines the strength and elasticity of ligaments, joint mobility, and comfort of movement. With a deficit of protein, joints become less flexible, there is pain, and crunch, especially characteristic of the knee joints and spine, and a higher risk of injury.
The importance of collagen for muscles and bones is less; specific proteins are more important for these tissues. The second important protein in connective tissue is elastin. It is responsible for its ability to stretch and restore its shape.
Foods containing collagen
The main source of collagen in food is meat. Animal foods contain most of the same proteins that are synthesized in the human body. After they are broken down into amino acids, the body receives not only a complete set of amino acids but also the amount needed for the synthesis of proteins.
The second most important source is seafood. They contain a complete protein that contains the full set of amino acids. However, the proteins of marine animals are very different from human proteins. This does not affect the process of their digestion, and the high protein content and variety of amino acids can compensate for their differences from meat.
Animal products are the most convenient source of protein for the human body. Replace meat and fish products with other compounds without loss of benefit is difficult enough.
Fish products are an important addition to the diet. They contain less collagen than humans require, and it varies greatly in composition. However, fish can be an important source of collagen if consumed in large quantities.
Equally valuable sources of protein are milk and eggs, but their consumption has a number of limitations. Not all adults can tolerate milk, and lactose deficiency is quite common, which makes it impossible to eat. All dairy products fall under the ban. Eggs contain a number of substances that should not be consumed in large quantities, so in some diseases, their intake is regulated.
Plant sources of collagen
In a vegan diet that excludes animal products, including fish, finding alternative ways to provide protein to the body becomes an important challenge. Everyone wants beautiful skin and healthy joints regardless of their dietary habits, so vegans also need collagen products.
In a plant-based diet, red fruits such as pomegranates, apples, and red berries come to the fore. They contain a lot of vitamin A and iron, without which the synthesis of collagen is impossible. Legumes, potatoes, and nuts are good sources of protein. Their correct combination can provide the body with a complete supply of amino acids. Equally important is the consumption of red vegetables such as tomatoes, red peppers, and carrots. They, like fruits, contain sufficient amounts of vitamins and trace elements, which enable the synthesis of collagen.
A great option is a gelatin. This is a product of the denaturation of collagen, the same amino acid composition of the protein, only lost its spatial structure. Cooking jellies and various jellies promote good absorption of collagen and the vitamins necessary for its synthesis.
When the diet is not effective
Cooking dishes based on gelatin, animal, and vegetable sources of protein allows you to provide the body with sufficient amino acids. But there may be situations when the intake of protein is maintained at normal levels, but the processes of destruction still outpace the processes of synthesis. This is possible with serious diseases of the skin, connective tissue, and endocrine system.
Such situations can be recognized by a number of symptoms, of which lack of skin elasticity is the smallest problem. The manifestations of such diseases are varied:
- The appearance of external defects on the skin – acne, rough scars;
- poor wound healing;
- occurrence of trophic ulcers on the lower extremities;
- impaired joint mobility – hypermobility or stiffness;
- Weight changes – weight gain or loss for no apparent reason;
- muscle weakness;
- emotional instability.
This is not a complete list of pathological signs that occur with serious illnesses. If a patient notes any of these signs, he needs to see a doctor. Treatment should be comprehensive, and it will include a wide list of medications, and changes in the patient’s general lifestyle, and diet. A change in diet in this plan is only one, and not the most important, of the elements of treatment.
Recommendations to eat red fruits and other healthy foods will help maintain a healthy appearance and improve well-being. However, this is not enough to treat some skin conditions.