What is Collagen?
It is an essential protein made up of amino acids that wrap together to make a triple helix structure to support joint health, gut health, strengthen the hair, skin, and nails, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and is a key player in a healthy appearance.
Starting around twenty-five years old collagen production begins to decline and continues as we age. Loss of collagen contributes to slow tissue repair, sagging skin, wrinkles, expression lines, less firmness, and suppleness.
While collagen helps to strengthen the skin, elastin works to support bounce and tightness. Elastin is responsible for the elasticity in the skin and helps it to snap back into place after being stretched or pulled.
Skin starts to produce less elastin after the age of puberty and contributes to the appearance of sagging skin.
The Benefits of Consuming Collagen
1. Skin health
Collagen is a significant component of healthy skin and can support graceful aging. When consumed regularly, it can improve the skin’s texture, elasticity, improve blood flow, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Supporting the skin from within is one of the best ways to encourage a radiant appearance.
2. Hair & Nails
Collagen contains several amino acids used to build keratin, the protein that hair is primarily made of. Consuming collagen provides the body with the building blocks to support healthy hair growth. Including collagen in the diet can help improve hair growth, strength, elasticity, and overall appearance.
3. Gut health
Collagen is incredibly soothing and can help to seal the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Gut health is essential for overall health and beauty because we need to properly digest the nutrients from our food for them to be utilized. If the gut is unhealthy, it can prevent us from absorbing all the vitamins and minerals needed to support our health and beauty goals.
4. Joint health
Collagen loss can contribute to stiff and swollen joints that can cause pain and discomfort. Regularly consuming collagen can reduce inflammation, joint pain, stiffness and improve mobility and flexibility.
Foods That Increase Collagen Production
1. Collagen Peptides
Collagen peptides are the short chain amino acids used in the production of collagen. When consumed, collagen can be absorbed into the bloodstream and reach the dermis, the skin’s thickest part. Daily consumption can help to improve the tone, texture and overall appearance of the skin.
Gelatin is essentially a cooked form of collagen. It has a unique amino acid profile and is easy for the body to digest and utilize for healthy skin, hair, and nails.
3. Bone Broth
Bone broth is rich in collagen and minerals that help support the hair, skin, and nails. The broth is very rich in amino acids, and beauty minerals that help support elasticity and the skins structural composition.
4. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic Acid has the unique ability to help bind collagen with elastin. It in its absence it can lead to less elasticity of the skin. Supporting your hair skin and nails with dietary or supplemental hyaluronic acid is key for maintaining healthy skin.
Foods that promote hyaluronic acid: bananas, beans, bell peppers, bone broth, dark chocolate, organ meat, nuts, root vegetables.
5. Aloe Vera
When consumed, aloe vera can stimulate cells to encourage collagen production. Aloe vera is also a powerful antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby supporting the skin’s health.
6. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential cofactor for collagen synthesis as well as a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that the body cannot store, and adequate amounts of it daily, whether in food or supplements, is necessary for healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Foods rich in vitamin C: Bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, citrus, kale, kiwi, guava, spinach, strawberries, papaya, pineapple, and tomatoes.
Zinc aids in cell regeneration and is a co-factor for the production of collagen.
Foods rich in Zinc: almonds, avocado, cacao powder, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, hemp seeds, lamb, grass fed beef, lentils, kefir, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, spinach, oysters, yogurt.
Skincare to Increase Collagen
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C serums can be quite effective due to their concentration of antioxidants. They can help protect from the UV damage that can harm collagen in the skin, improve the texture, tone, and minimize dark spots and smooth fine lines.
2. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule, and when used in skincare, it binds water to collagen for more hydrated, plump, and healthy skin. Hyaluronic acid serums are a great addition to any skincare routine.
3. Aloe Vera
The soothing properties found in aloe vera have made it quite popular for treating sunburns and irritated skin. It also has excellent anti-aging benefits due to its rich amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that may increase collagen synthesis.
Lifestyle Practices To support Collagen
1. Get Your Beauty Sleep
Beauty sleep is a real thing. In fact, it is necessary for the body to repair and regenerate. While we sleep there is a secretion of human growth hormone (HGH) that supports healthy collagen. Skipping those extra hours of sleep can take a toll on not only your health but your appearance. It is important to make sleep a priority and aim to get 7-9 hours each night.
2. Skip the Smoking Your Skin Will Thank You
You’ve probably heard by now that cigarette smoke ages the skin and contributes to poor health. It is true! Smoking creates free radicals that damage collagen and elastin which contributes to premature aging. It also decreases blood flow and oxygen to the skin which can decrease the appearance of radiancy and health.
3. Limit Sugar Intake
Glycation, also known as AGES (Advanced Glycation End Product), occurs when there is too much sugar in the diet and protein molecules cross-link with sugar molecules. It can cause the body to create antibodies that increase inflammation and compromise healthy collagen. The results of glycation may be accelerated aging, loss of elasticity, and wrinkling of the skin.
Supporting your body with one of its most abundant proteins, collagen, helps it to function better and encourages graceful aging. When we feel good, we look good, and taking care of our health, and beauty naturally is an act of self care.