Deriving its name from the Greek word kolla, collagen is indeed a vital element that helps to keep the body functioning. Collagen is a protein that combines with keratin and elastin to make your skin strong and elastic. As you age, the production of collagen in your body also slows down. This results to the aging of the skin, which is characterized by signs like thinning, wrinkles, lines, age spots and dullness. When this aging process begins, most women seek solutions in the form of beauty products – jars of cream, tubes of gel, bottles of lotions and the like. Even though some of these products work, most of them don’t. If you wish to preserve your youth by buying products that claim to contain collagen, you’re better off saving your money. Collagen simply cannot enter the body through your skin. Instead, it needs to be produced inside the body. Fortunately, there are a number of foods that help to support the creation of collagen within our bodies. Many different foods provide the building blocks for collagen production.
Collagen is rich in the amino acids lysine and proline. Proline, a nonessential amino acid, is made by the body. Proline can also be consumed in (organic) eggs and wheat germ. Lysine, an essential amino acid, must be obtained in the diet. Vegetable sources include soybeans and tofu, almonds, Brazil nuts, chestnuts, cashews, pistachio nuts and garbanzo beans. Lysine is also found in seeds, such as fenugreek, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, can help to stimulate the production and maintenance of collagen by converting proline and lysine to their active forms, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine. Vitamin C assists in wound healing, iron absorption, and treating scurvy. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables provides and abundance of vitamin C. Fruit sources include citruses such as grapefruit, lemons, limes, and oranges, as well as papaya, strawberries, raspberries, pineapples, kiwi,cantaloupes, and watermelon. Vegetable sources include green and red bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini/courgette,mustard and turnip greens, Swiss chard, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, snow peas and celery. Vitamin C is found in fennel, peppermint, and parsley. Vitamin C is sensitive to air, water, and extreme temperatures. Cooking, freezing, and thawing of foods can cause Vitamin C to lose its potency.
Copper is an essential mineral for collagen synthesis. Obtaining copper from food is safer than supplementation because it is a potentially toxic metal. Fortunately, many vegetables are high in copper, including crimini mushrooms, turnip and mustard greens, Swiss chard, spinach, kale, asparagus, green beans, potatoes, summer squash, eggplant/aubergine and tomatoes. Copper can also be found in tempeh, cashews, sesame and sunflower seeds, molasses, peppermint and ginger.
Soy products contain an element known as genistein. The presence of genistein gives soy products their collagen production qualities, as swell as helping to block enzymes that tend to break down and age the skin. Just about any soy product contains enough genistein to be helpful, including soy products that have been developed as substitutes for meat products.
Dark green leafy vegetables are known for their high nutritional content (vitamin C and lutein, a powerful antioxidant) and have also been found to contain agents which help in collagen production. Not only do they help in the production of collagen, but they also help your body use this protein more effectively.
The presence of omega acids also helps to create an ideal environment for collagen production. Omega-3 promotes smooth, supple and soft skin. Excellent sources of omega fatty acids are nuts such as cashews, pecans, almonds andBrazil nuts. For a snack that promotes healthy production of collagen, try making an avocado dip. Avocados contain the same omega fatty acids as fish, and digest just as easily. You can sprinkle flax seeds in your meals instead or take supplements of flax seed oils.
Garlic is a good source of sulfur which is necessary to produce collagen in your body. Other vegetables that contain sulfur are brussels sprouts, peppers, broccoli, onions, green and black olives, fresh cucumbers, and fresh stalks of celery. Garlic also contains large amounts of lipoic acid and taurine, which are essential for rebuilding damaged collagen fibers. When cooking pasta, soup, meats and other dishes, be sure to add plenty of garlic.
Working in conjunction with the sulfur, vegetables that are rich in Vitamin A also aid in keeping collagen levels high. Try adding raw carrots, fresh cantaloupe and baked sweet potatoes to the diet for an extra boost.
Red fruits and vegetables also are excellent sources to up the collagen content of foods in the diet. The presence of lycopenes in these types of foods helps to act as antioxidants, which in turn increases collagen production. What you don’t know is that lycopene helps fight collagenases. Collagenases are basically enzymes that destroy the collagen in your body. Try adding red peppers, beets, and tomatoes to the diet. To make the most of tomatoes, it’s better to cook them than eat them raw. Stew or grill them, or make your own tomato sauce for pasta. In addition to lycopene, red vegetables also contain anthocyanin, a strong antioxidant that is linked to reducing heart disease. In like manner, darker berries, such as blueberries and blackberries also help to boost the antioxidant level in the body and stimulate the production of collagen and battle other signs of aging.
One of the key points to keep in mind is that it is possible to provide everything your body needs to produce collagen by eating a balanced diet. By including some of the foods mentioned here, you will soon begin to see a difference in the quality of your skin tone, as well as have an improved sense of overall health.