Collagen is the most abundant and main structural protein found in our bones, muscles and other connective tissues. It makes up around 75 per cent of skin, and it is the reason behind the firmness and elasticity of our skin. But as we age, collagen production naturally slows down. Apart from ageing, lifestyle factors such as sun exposure, stress and excessive smoking can also take a toll on our skin and its ability to produce collagen.
There are two ways to ensure that the breakdown and depletion of collagen are taken care of—by including foods that boost collagen naturally, and by relying on collagen supplements such as collagen capsules, creams and masks. The three main types of collagen found in supplements are bovine (cow), porcine (pig) and marine, classified in type I, type II and type III. Our skin contains type I and III collagen. Collagen from bovine and porcine is said to be the most affordable to extract.
According to Dr Apratim Goel, laser surgeon and cosmetic dermatologist, Cutis Skin Studio, when collagen supplements are consumed, they get broken down and absorbed by the bloodstream. These fragments remain in the body for up to 14 days. The body gets tricked into thinking that these fragments indicate collagen breakdown, so it stimulates fibroblasts (collagen-producing cells in the skin) to produce more collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. This gives your skin a more youthful look. Using it over a period of time will definitely show improvement in your skin.
But, you will be surprised to know that some readily-available foods can also rev up your collagen production, naturally. Here are four collagen-rich foods that can work wonders for your skin and how to introduce them into your diet.
Soy is rich in antioxidants, which helps the skin preserve collagen and the reason why you will notice soy-derived ingredients such as soy isoflavones in many topical skin creams. Soy products are very versatile, you can use them in different ways.
When baking brownies toss in some soy nuts, in a cheesecake replace half of the cream cheese with pureed tofu, and replace regular milk with soy milk for your puddings. You can also add roasted soy nuts to your salads to add crunch and texture. In sandwiches use soy nut butter instead of regular butter or peanut butter. When making smoothies, blend the soy milk, silken tofu, frozen bananas and other frozen fruits in a blender to up your soy intake.
Salmon is an excellent anti-ageing agent and it’s easily found in collagen supplements. What makes this great for your skin is the abundance of Omega-3 fatty acids, which boosts collagen and calms inflammation. Marine collagen is extracted from coldwater fish salmon.
Include salmon in your diet for youthful skin. You can make a salmon salad, some crumbled cheese and veggies or make fish tacos by sprinkling some lime juice and seasonings over the fish, bake and serve with black beans, tortillas and salsa.
This saltwater fish is another collagen-boosting food that should be part of your diet. It is rich in Vitamin B complex known to keep the skin healthy. Tuna also has a protein called elastin which helps when dealing with all of your skin woes.
Make a tuna salad or sandwich with a little mayo, some onions, avocado, bell pepper and crumbled feta cheese or just top your fresh salad with tuna to improve your skin's health.
Sulfur is an essential trace mineral required to boost collagen production. The sulfur content, vitamin E and antioxidants in olives helps your skin achieve a more youthful and healthier look. You can include olives in your salad, use olive oil to cook, use it as a butter replacement, drizzle olive oil over salads and also add a dash of it to your smoothie.
Research suggests that adding a hint of olive oil to your breakfast yoghurt smoothie can help you feel satiated. You can also use olive oil topically to massage your skin, it will help in the natural regeneration of collagen.
Just like the foods mentioned above, supplements such as collagen capsules, powder and pills, collagen masks and topical creams are also known to slow down the ageing process by hydrating your skin and repairing skin's elasticity, therefore helping in overall skin rejuvenation.
With inputs from Shraddha Gadit, Nutrition Expert, Gold's Gym India and Dr Chiranjiv Chhabra, Director and Consultant Dermatologist at Skin Alive