9 Foods to Include in Your Diet to Boost Collagen in Your Skin
Include these foods in your diet to boost your collagen and keep your skin youthful.
Worried about your sagging skin, wrinkles, and the disappearing sheen? It’s time you focused on a lesser known component of the skin – collagen.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. 70 percent of the skin, hair, nails and nearly 100 percent of connective tissues are collagen. It acts as the ‘glue’ to bind together tissues and helps maintain their structure, thus giving our skin a firm and youthful appearance.
But as we age, the rate at which our body produces collagen slows down. But instead of buying expensive products to keep replenishing it, we need to change our lifestyle: sleep well, limit exposure to damaging UV rays and other environmental toxins, keep production of stress hormone cortisol down and consume collagen-boosting foods.
So, focus on these collagen friendly nutrients: vitamin C, E, lycopene, zinc, probiotics, sulfur, L-theanine, Papain and bromelain and adaptogens to hold these strands of protein (collagen) together.
Catch Lots of Vitamin C
Foods rich in vitamin C help boost levels of collagen in the skin leading to better elasticity and thus firm and taut looking skin. Amla (gooseberry), guava and pineapple are my 3 main picks. You can also have oranges, sweet potato, kiwi and strawberries.
While you are at it cut sugar from your diet too, as besides increasing inflammation in the body, it also interferes with the metabolism of vitamin C.
Land Some Lycopene
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that supports skin from the inside and prevents the breakdown of collagen in the skin while promoting cell renewal. It also helps avert the damage caused by harmful UV rays that damage important skin structures. Lycopene is found in red fruits and vegetables (it is, in fact, responsible for their red colour). Good sources are tomatoes, watermelon, pink guava, papaya.
Enlist Vitamin E
Vitamin E (tocopherol) is an antioxidant that helps the skin look younger by boosting collagen production and in turn reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. Good sources are nuts and seeds and green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli.
Adapt to Adaptogens
Stress hormones can wreak havoc on your skin by leading to chronic bursts of cortisol, which leads to elevated blood sugar. As a result, these spikes damage the collagen and elastin that keep skin smooth, firm, and supple. Adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha and basil really help keep a lid on stress, and the collagen intact.
Sulphur is necessary for the formation of amino acids, which are the building blocks of collagen.
Eat collagen-boosting, sulphur-rich foods like cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage), fermented vegetables whole grains, onions, garlic, onions and egg yolks.
Brew a teapot of green tea and sip three to four cups throughout the day. Green tea contains L-theanine, a de-tensing amino acid which helps bust the flow of the stress hormone cortisol and helps keep collagen fibres intact, ensuring elastic, firm great looking skin.
Pair up with Probiotics
Make sure you have a big bowl of yogurt for both main meals. Probiotics in it will help add healthy bacteria to the intestines (no acne) and buff up the production of collagen (less lines on the face). Eat more of the fermented foods, homemade pickles, yogurt and supplement with a good probiotic.
Eat those Enzymes
Papain and bromelain – both these enzymes help the body absorb collagen proteins. Get papain from papaya, bromelain from pineapple. Eat both by rotation.
Zero in on Zinc
Zinc plays a critical role in keeping collagen in good shape. You can get a fair share via seafood, poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, whole grains, tofu and legumes.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You.)
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