Have you jumped onto the collagen hotpot bandwagon in the hope of giving your skin a lift?
It looks just like any hotpot, bubbling with flavourful chicken soup, meat and vegetables. Except that there are some lumps of beige-coloured collagen jelly slowly melting into the soup, to form a cloyingly rich broth.
Introducing the collagen hotpot — also known as as “MeiRenGuo” (Beauty Pot) in Singapore — which has been attracting patrons, mostly women, who hope that the soup would give their skin a lift while tantalising their taste buds. Available at food courts and restaurants in Singapore, one would expect the taste to be at least one up bottled collagen drinks, which claim to do the same.
Mums and grandmas who lovingly simmer herbal soups double-boiled using pork bone soup, as well as confinement vinegared pig trotters also given credence to the idea that collagen can be consumed for better health and skin. The same goes for chewy pig’s skin found in kway chap and pork trotter jelly.
But just what is collagen? And can eating more of it — whether in a broth or bottle — really improve the suppleness of our skin and joints?
Collagen is a type of protein that makes up 65% of the total protein found in our bodies. Proteins are made up of amino acids such as glycine, proline and arginine. As the largest protein, collagen is a chain of over 1,500 amino acids.
What does collagen do? It’s the connective tissue for our body structures — heart, lungs, arteries, liver, muscles, hair, joints and skin, just to name a few.
If there’s so much in our bodies, why do we need more of it? Well, as our bodies age, we produce less and less collagen due to hormonal changes, drugs, alcohol, processed food, sun damage, dehydration, stress — mostly the negative effects of urban life.
The effect of having less collagen? Skin and muscles sag, joints and organs weaken, and bones lose density, among others. Which explains why many are sold on the idea of increasing their collagen intake to counter these negative effects.
But do our bodies take in the collagen we eat? Experts agree that this can’t happen directly as collagen molecules are mostly too large to be absorbed directly into blood stream or skin.
Instead, your body’s digestive system breaks the collagen down to amino-acids, which are its building blocks. That means your body still has to use those amino-acids — imagine small Lego blocks — to build and form its own collagen — the larger structure. But these same amino acids can also come from eating all other kinds of protein.
Hence, most experts don’t endorse the claim that such collagen-infused hotpots help to specifically increase collagen production in our bodies.
Advice by doctors and nutritionists is simply to help your body slow down the loss of collagen through common sense health habits that are much more affordable: quit the cigarette, reduce alcohol intake, get enough sleep of at least 7 hours a day, and have a well-balanced diet consisting of plenty of vegetables and fruits.Which may or may not include that bowl of collagen hotpot.
This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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