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Proline is a non-essential amino acid that helps synthesize collagen and support the skin. It has elastic properties so it is indicated for inelastic and mature skin.

It is one of the most basic elements in the structure of collagen and thus an important factor in its synthesis and repair. It is therefore an important element in skin health.

What is Proline

Proteins in the human body are made up of various combinations of twenty specific amino acids, nine of which are considered “essential”. The body does not produce these nine amino acids on its own and therefore they must be obtained through the diet.

Proline is a non-essential amino acid, which means that the body produces sufficient quantities in most phases of human life. However, in times of stress, treatment or growth, this amino acid becomes essential as the body’s requirements exceed the amount it can produce.

Which Foods Contain Proline

Proline is mainly found in foods of animal origin. According to Dr José-Manuel Fernández-Real, director of the Department of Medical Sciences at the University of Girona and one of the main researchers of the study, the most important sources of proline are gelatine and animal skins, which are rich in collagen, the natural source of this amino acid.

In fact, proline makes up about 10% of the total amino acids present in collagen. Therefore, foods that contain collagen, such as bone broth, chicken wings with skin, pork rinds, and gelatin, are rich in proline. In general, most meats, fish and dairy products contain proline.

bone broth
Bone Broth, ABC / Adobe Stock

Proline and anti-aging

Proline as one of the most basic elements in the structure of collagen. By extension, an important factor in its synthesis and repair. It is an important element in skin health.

It is used in Cosmetic Medicine thanks to its anti-aging and antioxidant action.

It reduces fine lines by neutralizing free radicals. Skin regeneration is important and very essential in the battle against time and photo-aging.

As proline is one of the most basic elements in the structure of collagen and thus an important factor in its synthesis and repair, it contributes significantly to maintaining skin elasticity.

Scientific studies have shown that amino acids, including proline, in combination with hyaluronic acid is a treatment of excellence used by cosmetic dermatology for anti-aging skin.

The amino acid complex activates the metabolic activity of fibroblasts, stimulating the production and synthesis of new collagen, as well as helping to reduce the rate of collagen degradation.

Related: Best Supplements For Skin Elasticity During Large Weight Loss

Proline And Depression

A scientific team from from the Institute of Biomedical Research of Girona (IDIBGI) and Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Barcelona, Spain, decided to explore the role of proline in humans and laboratory animals suffering from depression. Proline and is found in several different foods.

According to the results published by the scientific team in the journal Cell Metabolism, a diet high in proline is associated with an increased risk of depression.

The authors looked at all the amino acids consumed by the study volunteers in their daily diets. To their surprise, they noticed that all of the volunteers diagnosed with depression had high proline consumption. This observation, in fact, was confirmed after a series of metabolomics analyses.

Best Foods For Depression

It is important to note at this point that all the volunteers who had high levels of proline in the blood did not eventually become depressed. Wanting to explore this phenomenon further, the authors examined the gut microbiome of the volunteers and observed a link between the risk of depression and the levels of proline-metabolizing bacteria. This confirmed that proline levels in the blood are linked to the composition of the gut microbiome.

In the next part of the research, the scientists examined whether elevated proline levels are a causal factor or a consequence of depression. In order to answer this question, they used laboratory animals in which they placed the gut microbiome of human volunteers.

The mice that received the microbiome with high levels of proline showed depression, which was not observed in the other mice. According to the scientific team, this shows that proline is a causal factor in the development of depression and not vice versa.

In another experiment carried out by the team, they used a specific species of fly (Drosophila melanogaster). The scientists isolated two different types of bacteria from the microbiome of human volunteers, which they placed in the flies’ food.

Flies that consumed Lactobacillus bacteria were less likely to be depressed, while those that consumed Enterobacter bacteria were more likely to experience depressive symptoms.

“From our results it is clear that proline can affect a person’s mood, something that has so far been ignored in research on depression. Our research paves the way for the development of treatments for depression that will also target patients’ nutrition,” the authors conclude.

Related: Best Foods For Depression Based On Research: Top 12 Foods That Help Fight Depression

Should you avoid proline to reduce your risk of depression?

Based on the results of the study, it’s reasonable to consider whether you should reduce your proline intake to consequently reduce your risk of depression.

Liz Shaw, MS, RD, CPT, nutrition specialist and author at ShawSimpleSwaps.com, while acknowledging researchers’ efforts to find underlying mechanisms behind depression, makes it clear that she cannot make bold recommendations to the public about eating proline-rich foods.

As she explained, many proline-rich foods, such as meats, fish and dairy, are full of animal-based nutrients that contribute to proper growth and support the immune system. Therefore, she believes that further research needs to be done before any recommendation is made.

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