We are pretty sure you can recall collagen as an ingredient in some of your favourite skin products or from the various beauty related articles that you might have come across. But what exactly is collagen you might wonder. Collagen is the most abundantly found main structural protein in our bodies, in fact in mammals it makes up for 25%-35% of the protein content of the whole body. Collagen is found in the innermost layer of our skin and is best known for keeping our skin looking radiant and youthful. It is also found in hair, nails and intestinal tissue.
There are about 16 types of collagen and almost 90% collagen found in the human body is type 1, 2 and 3. Collagen types I and II are concentrated in the skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments, while type II is found primarily in the joints.
Human bodies are programmed to produce collagen on their own, but as we age and enter our mid 20's , our body's ability to produce collagen begins to deteriorate. This is when signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines et al become evident. Though with age our body's ability to produce collagen will decline on its own, but there are also other external factors which may lead to declined collagen production such as unhealthy eating habits, high consumption of sugar, pollution and toxins present in the environment, smoking, overexposure to sun et al.
But irrespective of all the factors, the good news is we can any given day boost our body's collagen production. Now, supplements might seem to be the easiest way to get in a good daily amount of collagen, but the consumption of certain foods can boost our body's ability to produce collagen too. And when food can do that for us, we can leave the supplements alone for extreme cases.
Bone Broth is one of the unique foods that actually contains a bioavailable form of collagen that the body can use immediately. Beef bone broth is rich in type 1 collagen, which makes it a great choice for skin health. Turkey and chicken broth, both are rich in type 2 collagen which is good for supporting the joints.
As collagen is concentrated in bones, ligaments, joints and tendons, cooking these animal parts releases collagen from the bones.
What are the foods that can boost the production of collagen naturally?
Genistein, a plant hormone present in soy, increases collagen, strengthens skin and blocks enzymes that can lead to the aging of skin. It gives a boost to the body's collagen boosting ability. It is easy to include soy in our daily diets in the form of milk, tofu, beans et al.
2. Dark, leafy greens
Chlorophyll present in dark, leafy vegetables like bok choy, green algae, kale, lettuce, broccoli, provides a strong shield against UV damage and free radicals that promote premature aging. There have been studies where in it is proved that consuming chlorophyll increases the precursor to collagen in the skin.
Now, we need no reasons to consume avocados, but for the few skeptical ones, avocados are rich in vitamin E which helps in preventing the breakdown of collagen and the good fats present in it also improve the health of skin cells. Avocados are also a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids which is good for the production of collagen. Holy Guacamole!
Garlic is packed with sulphur which helps in synthesizing collagen and prevents its breakdown. Lipoic acid, taurine along with sulphur can also help with rebuilding collagen fibers that have been damaged over the years. So next time you cook, thrown in a clove or two extra for glowing skin.
Carrots are a rich source of beta carotene and vitamin A which are amazing when it comes to boosting the production of collagen. Carrots are also great for improving skin elasticity and increase blood flow to the skin. Go ahead and munch on carrots like bunnies!
Citrus rich foods like oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit et al are packed with vitamin C which convert amino acids to collagen and naturally gives us a healthy glowing skin. Vitamin C is also great when it comes to repairing skin cells and regeneration of new cells which is why you find it in many skin care products. So go ahead and drizzle your food with lemon, or sip on some delicious citrus juices!
Seeds such as flax seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and zinc which slow down the rate at which collagen breakdown occurs in our bodies and aid in the synthesis of collagen. Seeds can be included in our diets through smoothies, energy bars, et al.
It might come as a surprise but cabbage is one of the most sought after foods for increasing collagen production naturally. It is packed with vitamin A, B, C, E, antioxidants and phytonutrients that help fight free radicals. It is easy to include cabbage in our diets in the form of delicious salads, curries, fritters, et al.