Picture this — you’re going on a roadtrip. You’re in your cute little Mini-Cooper, or you’ve rented a convertible for the weekend. You fill up your tank and start to motor down the highway — cool breeze in your hair, your favorite tunes playing … life is good.
Until, of course, you have to stop for gas. After all, if you want to get to where you’re going, you’re going to have to stop and refuel.
Such is the case with the collagen in your body — it runs out! And the older you get, the harder it is for your body to make collagen.
What is collagen, exactly?
Put simply, collagen is a structural protein — a building block for your skin, hair, nails, bones, ligaments, digestive system, muscles, and connective tissue. In fact, it’s the most abundant protein in your whole body.1
If it weren’t for collagen, you’d have a lot more difficulty moving, bending, and stretching. It also helps give your skin its light glow and your nails their strength.2,3
But, as you age, your collagen production begins to decline. So, like the fuel in your car on your fabulous road trip, you can start to run out.
And the result of low collagen levels? Sagging skin, wrinkles, joint pain, and overall sluggishness.
Then how do you “refuel” your collagen production factory?
Unfortunately, the more stress your body endures, the bigger the negative impact on your collagen-making system. To refuel and keep your collagen production levels as strong as possible, you’ll want to get collagen wherever you can.
The best place to start? A balanced diet that can assist your body in regenerating the collagen it’s losing.
How can collagen help your body?
While collagen makes up a hefty third of the protein in your body, it makes up an even heftier three quarters of the protein that makes up your skin. Collagen is the primary protein that helps keep your skin toned and taut.4
The primary source of collagen in your skin is the dermis. Think of the dermis as the foundation, or base, for your skin. The more collagen in your dermis, the better its elasticity and flexibility. The last thing you want is to stretch your skin and not be able to get it to “snap” back into place.
Collagen also helps form the ligaments and tendons — your body’s connective tissues — that attach to your bones and muscles. (It literally helps hold your bones and muscles together!)
So, in order to keep your skin looking healthy and youthful, and your bones and muscles strong… you’ve got to make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of collagen.
When you’re supplying your body with the right amount of collagen, you might actually be able to help:
Improve your skin’s elasticity
Give your metabolism a boost
Encourage healthier joints
Diminish the appearance of cellulite and wrinkles
Increase muscle mass
How your diet affects collagen production?
The first thing you need to know is that when sugar is ingested, glucose molecules bond to the proteins in your body. These proteins become corrupted, or spoiled, which makes it difficult for them to do their job properly.
Unfortunately, collagen and elastin — the proteins that keep your skin taut, smooth, and youthful looking — are no exception. They can become corrupted too. And when they do, they become known as Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs).
AGEs interfere with the chemical makeup of your collagen — and when that happens, it can prevent collagen from being produced.5 Little by little, your skin’s network becomes weaker and weaker.
Sadly, this can also cause your skin to lose its strength and suppleness. Wrinkles become more prominent, and your complexion can even lose its glow. Over time, these things can make you look much older than you actually are.
The best way to avoid these effects? Cut down on your sugar intake, and be sure to add the following foods into your diet as often as you can.
The best collagen-boosting foods for your skin (and body)
- Green peppers, broccoli, oranges, tomatoes, and parsley. What do these foods have in common, other than the fact that they’re all whole, natural foods? Well as it turns out, they’re all rich sources of vitamin C — which is essential to helping your body produce collagen.6
- Bacon, pasture-raised grass-fed lean beef, and pasture-raised chicken. Did you ever think you’d be told to eat more bacon? Well, a third of your collagen molecules are made up of glycine — and bacon happens to be pretty high in glycine. The next largest amino acid component of the collagen in your body is formed by proline.7 So try to get high proline foods — like beef and chicken — on your plate, too.
- Bananas and red peppers. The key molecule involved in skin moisture is hyaluronic acid (HA). HA has the unique capacity to retain water, which is great for your skin’s health — and its elasticity.8Bananas are great for your skin because they contain magnesium, which works wonders to help your body produce hyaluronic acid.9 And the more HA you’re producing, the more hydrated and silky your skin will look and feel. Similarly, red peppers are chock full of vitamin A, which also happens to help increase the production of HA in your body.
- Broths made from animal bones. They say chicken soup “cures all” — and though this may not entirely be true, the animal tendons and bones used to make bone broth are extremely rich in hyaluronic acid.
In fact, if you leave the skin on your chicken, you’ll get an added boost of HA. A little bone broth goes a long way when it comes to smoothing the look of wrinkles and keeping your skin soft.
So be sure to get these collagen-rich foods onto your plate — to refuel your body and ensure your “collagen factory” is working in full force.
Your skin will thank you for it!
For more beauty tips, keep reading: