Can Collagen Supplements Aid Joint Repair?

| May 1, 2017

Healing joint injuries and degeneration can be a long, arduous process—but with a little education and persistence, recovery is well within reach.

Osteoarthritis and other common causes of joint pain are all characterized by a gradual breakdown of the cartilage matrix within joints. This matrix is made up of specialized cells called chondroctyes, which produce collagen and other fibers.

These facts are about the only thing that’s universally agreed upon when it comes to the science of joint repair. According to mainstream medicine, once this cartilage matrix erodes, it’s gone for good. What inevitably follows is the escalating release of collagen fragments (Stage 2) and chronic inflammation (Stage 3). In this view, pain and inflammation can be managed, and sometimes the progression of the condition can be slowed, but it can never be reversed—the loss of joint cartilage is simply one of those unavoidable downsides of aging.

Luckily, there are some health experts who hold a more optimistic view of the body’s self-healing capacities.

It’s generally accepted that joint cartilage does break down as we age; that’s just how the biomechanics of maintaining an upright posture for decades works. However, emerging research suggests that this doesn’t have to spell the end of your active lifestyle, and that regrowing the cartilage matrix in your joints may very well be possible.

As joint degeneration begins to set in, most mainstream doctors recommend ceasing any high-impact activities, like running or intense sports. Research has shown, however, that unless an acute joint injury has been suffered, exercise does not contribute to joint degeneration, nor does it accelerate the progression of osteoarthritis after its onset.

On the contrary, according to researchers, “exercise has positive salutary benefits for joint tissues in addition to its other health benefits;” it mitigates risk factors for the development of osteoarthritis, such as obesity, inflammation, and oxidative stress.[1]

Once joint degeneration becomes too painful for exercise, though, you only have two choices: resign yourself to worsening joint degeneration and use medications to manage the pain, or take measures to regenerate the cartilage matrix in your joints.

Supplementing with collagen peptides is one the most popular (non-invasive) methods of joint repair—but it’s efficacy is hotly debated.

The myths and truths of collagen supplementation

The theory behind collagen supplementation is that by consuming more of the building blocks of cartilage, your body will have more of what it needs for joint regeneration. For this reason, many collagen product manufacturers claim to have found the solution to joint pain and degeneration.

There is some truth to this theory, but it’s more complicated than the hype would lead you to believe. The fact of the matter is that collagen is a long-chain protein, which is broken down into its constituent amino acids in your digestive tract.

So eating collagen doesn’t directly transport extra collagen into your joints—it simply seeds your body with the ingredients necessary for collagen synthesis. And you don’t need to get expensive collagen peptide supplements to get amino acids; any complete protein food source will do just fine.

This is why many studies have failed to show any direct benefit from collagen supplementation. The problem is twofold: most collagen supplements ignore collagen type ratios and collagen synthesis inhibitors.

Collagen type ratios. Collagen supplements often focus on the overall quantity of collagen fibers rather than the ratio of collagen types. You can’t force your body to produce more collagen by stuffing more collagen peptides into it. The body needs to maintain a precise ratio between the many different types of collagen, so taking supplements that aren’t formulated with this principle in mind are usually ineffectual. Products like Joint Vibrance stand out from the crowd, because its collagen type ratio is formulated to match that of the human body.

Collagen synthesis inhibitors. As we mentioned above, giving your body the raw materials it needs to make collagen doesn’t automatically jumpstart the process; oftentimes, the chronic inflammation and oxidative stress that accompanies joint degeneration monopolizes all the body’s resources and blocks the healing process.

Therefore, it’s much more important to control inflammation than to take collagen supplements, as long as you’re getting amino acids from a clean, complete protein source. Use natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric (rather than NSAIDs and other painkillers, which only make things worse in the long run).

The bottom line

A growing body of research and anecdotal evidence suggests that it is possible to regenerate joint tissue—but it’s not as simple as taking collagen supplements. Instead, you’ll need to build a holistic joint-healing lifestyle, to which you can add the right kind of collagen product.

First, work with a physician to identify the specifics of your joint degeneration. To what stage has it progressed? What collagen type does the body need to produce in order to regenerate tissue in that particular area?

Second, work tirelessly to minimize inflammation. Cut out inflammatory foods like sugars, trans fats, and processed foods, and eat lots of nutrient-dense, high-antioxidant foods (mostly vegetables). Make sure you’re eating a clean, complete protein source daily (hemp and pea protein are the two most absorbable forms).

Implement natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric. Cut out other inflammatory triggers, like tobacco products, alcohol, and caffeine. Minimize stress to whatever degree possible, and continue with light to moderate exercise (or low-impact exercise like swimming) if possible.

Turmeric powder has a fairly low bioavailability (meaning that a good portion of it isn’t properly absorbed by your body), it often isn’t very fresh, and
it’s sometimes made with harsh processes that can destroy or degrade turmeric’s healthful components.

Because turmeric is hard to absorb, it must be formulated in a certain way allowing the body to absorb and utilize its entire spectrum of nutrients.

Otherwise it is useless…

PuraTHRIVE Organic Turmeric Extract is an outstanding full-spectrum extract that’s “liposomalized”—meaning it’s specifically blended to make the turmeric bind to phosphlipids (fats) that increase its bioavailability 10 to 20 times!

This formulation takes all that raw turmeric has to offer and presents it in a format that your body LOVES to consume.

Finally, supplement with a collagen product that’s been specifically formulated with a collagen type ratio that matches that of the human body.   

 


References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2667877/

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