Step away from the expensive skin creams and elaborate collagen concoctions – we’ve got a simpler solution. We’ve collated a number of nourishing foods that can help boost your body's natural collagen production and keep your skin looking fresh and radiant. Let's get you eating some delicious and nutritious foods that will have you glowing from the inside out.
So, what is collagen? You’ve likely heard all about this stuff on social media, but it's more than just a buzz word for the beauty industry. Collagen is a type of protein that is found in the skin, bones, muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues, and it makes up around 30% of the total protein in our bodies. In the skin, collagen is responsible for providing strength, elasticity, and support to the tissue. As we age, our body's natural collagen production decreases, leading to wrinkles and a loss of elasticity. But many may notice a more severe – or even premature – loss of collagen. This can be due to a range of factors, from our genetics to our environment and even our lifestyle choices. Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help support collagen production. Foods that are high in vitamin C like citrus fruits and dark leafy greens, are especially beneficial for collagen synthesis. It’s also important to protect the skin from sun damage by wearing sunscreen, along with avoiding other environmental stressors like smoking.
How sugar affects our collagen levels
Excessive sugar consumption can negatively affect collagen levels in the skin, leading to premature skin sagging and wrinkling. When we consume excess sugar over a long period of time, research shows it can trigger a process known as glycation. This can result in damage to our collagen levels and our skin's elasticity, with the skin's structural support breaking down. High sugar consumption has also been linked to increased inflammation in the body, which can further contribute to collagen breakdown.
Since we know how important food can be for our skin, let’s take a look at some of the best options to nourish your collagen levels, rather than deplete them. While the collagen supplement industry is booming, with projections of a 7.5 billion-dollar global worth by 2027, there are cheaper alternatives – you might be surprised to find the foods on this list are already in your fridge! Here are 5 collagen-boosting foods to load up on.
When you think of citrus, you likely think of the immune-boosting benefits, but you might be surprised to learn what it can do for your skin. Fruits like oranges, grapefruit, mandarin and lemons are all loaded with skin-nourishing antioxidants and vitamin C, with the latter essential for the synthesis of collagen in the body, while also preventing its breakdown. This means healthier skin with greater elasticity. Plus, vitamin C itself is also an antioxidant, and these guys play an important role in preventing and reducing skin damage from free radicals we’re exposed to from environmental and lifestyle factors. Other skin-boosting fruits include kiwi fruit, strawberries and apples – berries in particular are known for their antioxidant and vitamin-C content.
Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones (such as chicken, beef, or fish) for an extended period of time to extract nutrients. Not only does it boost collagen levels in the skin, but it also contains collagen itself. When boiled, the collagen is broken down into amino acids, with some of the major ones known as glycine and glutamine. Consuming just 300ml of bone broth regularly has been found to boost levels of these precursor amino acids that play a role in the formation of collagen in our bodies.
Capsicum – known as bell peppers to some of you around the globe – is another vitamin-C powerhouse. In fact, a red capsicum contains 169% of our daily needs for the vitamin, making it a more powerful source than oranges. An article in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research indicates just how significant vitamin C is in the collagen production process, finding that it not only increases collagen synthesis in the skin, but it even promoted faster bone healing.
Salmon and other fatty fish can be great sources of collagen, especially when eaten with the skin and bones. This is because of the protein and omega which are both important nutrients when it comes to getting that collagen production up to speed – not to mention the overall anti-inflammatory health benefits. Salmon is also loaded with vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and copper, all of which are involved in the collagen production process, along with fighting off skin damage caused by free radicals in the body. These free radicals are known to create inflammation and disease, and poor diet and exposure to environmental toxins are often to blame for their presence. While it can be hard to avoid the smoke and smog around us, we can include free radical-fighting foods in our diet to prevent skin problems and collagen depletion. You can also fight omega 3 fatty acids in flax seeds, ghee and algae oil.
Take a look at some of the other collagen-boosting foods to add to your plate:
- Cacao: Rich in antioxidants, cacao is an all-round skin health booster.
- Garlic: Garlic is an anti-inflammatory hero known to contribute to the collagen synthesis process.
- Flaxseeds: Rich in omega fatty acids, flax seeds are another simple, affordable food that promote collagen production. Why? It comes down to the vitamins and omega 3 content you’ll find in these powerhouse seeds.
- Leafy greens: The vitamin C and A, along with iron in leafy greens like spinach and kale support collagen production in the skin.
- Avocado: It’s the vitamin C and E, along with the healthy fats in avocado that you can thank for their collagen-boosting properties.
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