You don’t need botox or a similarly expensive cosmetic surgery treatment to get a healthy glow. Stimulating collagen production will naturally have similar effects over time. So what is collagen, and how can you get more of it naturally?
What is collagen and its role in healthy skin?
Collagen is the main protein found in skin and connective tissues. Essentially, it is the glue which supports skin and joints, and the word “glue” makes up the first part of its name, from the Greek “Kolla”. It is the most abundant protein in our bodies – one third to be exact – and holds our entire body together as a structural protein.
When we are young adults, our bodies have the most collagen we will ever have. It is almost singularly responsible for the “youthful glow” effect. The reason we lose that glow is that our bodies naturally start to lose collagen over time. Collagen synthesis, the process by which our bodies manufacture collagen, really starts to slow down around age 40, with a more dramatic slowdown post-menopause for women. Collagen synthesis can also be affected by smoking and other toxic substances which affect collagen synthesis and deplete the body’s natural store of collagen. Sunlight and a diet high in sugars also deplete our collagen stores and interrupt collagen synthesis.
How does consuming collagen help?
Collagen is resorbable, which means that your body can assimilate and use any collagen you put back into it. Typically, this is in the form of quick fixes such as cosmetic surgery procedures – but it doesn’t have to be. While the effects of consumed collagen will be slower to see in your skin than the effects of a procedure, it is certainly less expensive to consume collagen than it is to have it injected. Think of it like going on a diet; sure, you’ll lose weight quickly, but after the diet “quick fix” is over, you’ll pile the pounds back. If you change your lifestyle over time by eating better foods and exercising more, you’ll lose weight more slowly, but the effects will be permanent. The same is true with collagen – if you introduce it to your diet, you’ll notice the effects over time, and you won’t need to keep going back for treatments.
Creams with collagen are not the answer – collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed through the skin. You must actually consume it to see any benefit. You can consume collagen from foods such as bone broth and Asian foods such as fermented soy, as Asian women have been doing for centuries. But some of these foods can be hard to find and incorporate into your diet in Western culture.
Foods that support collagen production
The following foods offer compounds and vitamins that support collagen synthesis. These compounds and vitamins include proline, vitamin C, vitamin A, copper and anthocyanidins. The following list of foods offers options for vegetarians and vegans.
- Egg whites
- Red Meat
- Berries, including Blackberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries
It is relatively simple to keep the collagen you have and produce more. Stay away from cigs, wear sunscreen, and eat the right foods to support collagen production, and foods with collagen where you can get them. Women over 40 may want to increase their intake of foods which support collagen synthesis, and try to find foods which contain collagen.