Collagen – Activating Your Healing & Stem Cell Powers For Joint & Muscle Repair
Collagen is a fibrous protein molecule is found in tendons, muscles and bones. It also makes up the interstitium, which is an network of interconnected fluid filled tissues surrounding your muscles, joints, lungs, heart and brain. This interstitium is being discovered as an organ that contains sleeping or dormant stem cells.
Unlike the stem cell injections, this new organ can help your body’s existing supply of stem cells to nudge in a certain direction. Signals in the collagen bound interstitium fluid can allow stem cells to mature or differentiate into a muscle cell, bone cell, or more stem cells.
While your body produces it’s own collagen, the production slowly decreases; only 25% by age 40 and down to 50% by your 60’s! So, while collagen is commonly known for reducing skin wrinkles, the discovery of the interstitium and it’s function relating to stem cells opens up the door to better functioning joints and muscles, as well as a host of other benefits.
The best source of collagen is in animal bone marrow or the tough connective tissue that most do not eat or find very appetizing. Bone broth is a great alternative and can be used in a healthy diet in different recipes. Fortunately, supplements and innovative products makes it easy to get good sources of collagen to feed your interstitium or your body’s stem cell reservoir.
A 2015 study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture emphasizes that hydrolyzed collagen peptide is well absorbed and in joint tissues and has anti-inflammatory as well as pain relief analgesic properties. In their study, oral collagen supplements are “…potential therapeutic agents as nutritional supplements for the management of osteoarthritis and maintenance of joint health.”
Hydrolyzed collagen or collagen powder, in addition to protein, contains amino acids that form connective tissue in your bones, and joints. It is easy to absorb because hydrolysis breaks the hydrogen bonds into smaller molecules. It has no taste or odor, and also helps skin and hair, in addition to having stronger joints. It can easily be added to food and drinks. It comes in different variations like flavored powders and protein bars.
We can explain the mystery of stem cell maturation and collagen, through the interstitium system, helps promote regenerative healing and pain relief. An interesting 2019 article in the journal Integrative Medical Research outlines the theory the acupuncture signals from pressure points is most likely carried by the interstitium.
A 2015 article in the journal Current Gene Therapy outlines literature indicating skeletal muscle stem cell types, mainly located in the interstitium, as potential candidates for the treatment of skeletal muscle degeneration.
A 2008 study in Current Medical Research and Opinion of a 24 week clinical trial with collagen supplementation in athletes showed implications to support joint health and may reduce the risk of joint deterioration in high risk groups. They found reduced pain parameters that can increase athletic performance. Faster recovery means a boost in performance for sports related activities and training, as well as injury recovery.
While collagen is the number 1 way to help activate your body’s stem cells, another great way is Vitamin K2. This vitamin especially boosts the production of stem cells in the bone marrow, which produces blood cells, platelets, and immune cells. It helps protect your heart, bones and teeth, and helps fight inflammation by controlling the immune system stem cells.
A 2017 study in Molecular Medicine Reports outlines the mechanism of K2 in regulating bone marrow stromal cells for bone growth. Menaquinone-7 or MK7 is the recommended form of K2 and you can take up to 100 mcg a day. Good food sources are cheese, liver, bone marrow, butter and beef, particularly from grass fed cows.
A 2010 study in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows Vitamin K in the form of menaquinones can suppress stem cells which grow into cancer cells and reduced risks of both incident and fatal cancer. Great news for cheese lovers!
So, you can boost your stem cells into better overall health, reduce pain and enhance recovery by looking into ways to feed your interstitium. There is no one product to recommend as there are many ways to do this, even through better diet. I use a collagen supplement, eat a collagen protein bar a day, take K2 (fat soluable, so with meals), and incorporate dietary methods like bone broth – not really big on cheese or liver. Another good source of K2 is Nattō – traditional Japanese fermented soybeans that have a slimy texture and very strong flavor – thank goodness for supplements.