Collagen is a hot topic these days. It adds lustre to our hair, makes our skin glow, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, strengthens our nails, and is even good for our joints.
But what is collagen? Collagen is the fibrous protein found in connective tissue that helps tissue withstand stretching. Our bodies produce it in abundance, and it makes our skin more elastic, youthful, and supple. In fact, there are over a dozen different types, and each contributes to the structure of our skin, cartilage, nails, and connective tissues. But after age 25 – right around the time we start seeing those first tiny wrinkles – our bodies produce less collagen. So what are the options for those of us who aren’t 25 anymore?
The traditional go-to for encouraging collagen production is by external means. Serums and lotions can help decrease dullness and wrinkles. Micro-exfoliating facial rollers condition the skin and boost collagen production. I’d be happy to share my favorite roller with anyone as it has made all the difference in my skin. It’s one of my favorite tools in my arsenal of self care.
And if you haven’t noticed, the supplement aisles are bursting with the stuff. Everywhere I turn, people are ranting and raving about the benefits of ingesting collagen: some swear by drinking it, and wouldn’t take their morning coffee without it
Serums, lotions, rollers, and supplements are great. After all – they do reduce the effects of skin aging. But if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this, is that without a skin-healthy diet, these serums, lotions, and supplements won’t be able to meet their potential.
What’s more, most collagen supplements don’t include the entire scope of vitamins and minerals that make collagen absorption possible. In order for collagen to be useful in our bodies, we first need healthy doses of vitamin C, lycopene, silica, and more. All the more reasons to eat well!
And vegans take note – most of these collagen supplements are made from animal parts: chicken cartilage, cow hides, and fish scales. So what are vegans and vegetarians to do?
What if I told you that you don’t need to buy serums, pills and powders? What if I told you that you could eat real food for the same skin-glowing benefits? Save your money, eat well, and see a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles. There is a better way!
Here is a list of foods that support a well-balanced diet rich in protein, antioxidants, and heart-healthy fats so you can get the collagen-synthesizing nutrients you need – without taking a trip to the supplement aisle.
A SHORT LIST OF SKIN HEALTHY FOODS
CITRUS FRUITS Your body needs ample levels of vitamin C to produce collagen. No vitamin C, no collagen! Clinical studies have found that vitamin C taken orally and topically boost collagen production. Get your daily dose of vitamin C by eating oranges, grapefruits, and drinking water with lemon.
BANANAS are high in silica, which is essential for collagen production and stabilization. Silica is vital for skin and hair – it’s needed for collagen synthesis and activates enzymes that keep your skin elastic.
BROCCOLI Like the mini trees they are, broccoli is your first defense against sun damage. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a powerful antioxidant and anti-aging compound.
AVOCADO When you eat avocados you are also giving your body skin-protecting antioxidants, like beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E, to prevent wrinkles and slow the visible signs of aging.
DARK LEAFY GREENS Kale, collards, chard, arugula, and spinach contain chlorophyll, which is fantastic for collagen production and wrinkle reduction. Leafy greens are nutritional dream – full of fiber, carotenoids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
COLORFUL BELL PEPPERS These colorful veggies are chock-full of vitamin C are beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A and uses in collagen production.
POMEGRANATE SEEDS and BERRIES Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries contain ellagic acid which is shown to prevent collagen breakdown. High in vitamin C, berries fight unwanted signs of aging and are excellent for your overall health.
CILANTRO High in vitamin C and linoleic acid, cilantro boosts type 1 collagen production (the type of collagen that benefits skin) on the molecular level. Linoleic acids in cilantro prevent photo aging (sun damage) and depletion of existing collagen. It’s high in antioxidants, captures the free radicals in your body, and prevents further damage