Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fascia, collagen and amino acids

Fascia is the web that binds and shapes the body. Fascia is everywhere in the body as it wraps muscle fibers, bones, tendons, joints, organs. So through the fascia everything in the body is interconnected.

Fascia is made up mostly of collagen. Collagen is derived from the Greek word kolla, which means glue. And the term arose from the early process of boiling skin and sinews of horses and animals to make glue. The oldest glue was found to be collagen, carbon dated to about 8,000 years ago.

Skin is made up in large part of collagen. This collagen is connected to the rest of collagen fibers in the body, that is the fascia in tendons, muscles, joints, bones and organs. Bodyworkers can feel inner tensions just by placing their hands on a person’s body. In a sense they are picking up that tension as it travels through the fascia. If you quiet down and lie still after a while you will start registering your inner body tensions as they inform your nervous system that there is something held up or stuck.

So to change the structure of your body you need to change the shape of your fascia. And this is possible because the fascia is made up of collagen. Collagen has be capacity to change from liquid to solid. With chronic tension in the body the collagen will harden and shorten. Bodywork can help you change the form of the fascia to reduce inner tensions and stress.

To remain flexible and supple you need collagen. Collagen is what gives the body its plasticity. Collagen is made up of amino acids (building blocks of protein) and as we age because we loose our ability to assimilate nutrients less amino acids are available to create new collagen. And so we start shrinking. The skin shrinks up, the muscles get smaller, and the joints become less supple.

One way we can reduce that process at least partially is to consume amino acids (proteins) in forms that are easy to assimilate. One of the ways to do that is to consume liquid arginine (an important amino acid in collagen formation). Another way is to do exercise like Tai Chi, Chikung or yoga that stimulates blood circulation around joints. That helps the joints maintain adequate levels of amino acids. Another way is to consume protein that fosters good blood circulation like textured soy protein, that is also easy to digest.

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