If you haven’t heard the hype around collagen powders yet, where have you been? The health and wellness world is buzzing with the professed benefits of collagen so we thought we’d unpack the collagen ballyhoo with you today.
Let’s begin with what collagen is. Collagen is an insoluble protein which makes up about 70% of our skin and around a third of the protein in our entire body. You might have already heard of ‘collagen boosting’ ingredients in things like skin care products for their anti-ageing benefits. It’s only recently that collagen has jumped from a beauty product to be applied to something much more interesting that we ingest.
Delving a little deeper, we see that there are 16 types of collagen, but most of the collagen in the human body is Type I, II and III. The role of collagen in our bodies is sort of like a ‘glue’. In fact, the word collagen comes from the Greek word for glue (kólla). Collagen plays a role in binding our cells and tissues together, from our skeleton, ligaments and tendons all the way to our skin.
It’s well known that our levels of collagen dip as we get older, our body produces less and our stores are depleted, this is where supplementing collagen may be helpful.
You may have already used some anti-ageing skin care with collagen in it, or had cosmetic procedures where collagen is injected for its skin plumping effects. What’s relatively new, is ingesting a collagen supplement. These supplements are usually derived from animal bones, skin or cartilage.
As we mentioned, our bodies produce collagen themselves. So do we really need to supplement?
As you age, supplementing collagen may support your:
- joint health,
- improve your digestion,
- help skin elasticity and
- strengthen hair and nails.
But, as with many supplements, we can skip them altogether and boost our collagen naturally through diet!
Your collagen boosting diet
These foods support your body in producing a healthy supply of collagen.
Red capsicum is packed with Vitamin C, an antioxidant that promotes the synthesis of collagen. Other excellent sources of Vitamin C are oranges (duh!), grapefruit, kiwifruit, berries and broccoli.
Oily fish like salmon and tuna are full of omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial to the health of your skin cells’ fatty membranes, enabling them to support the structure of your skin.
White tea has been shown to protect collagen by preventing enzyme activity which breaks down these proteins.
Eggs are excellent protein sources which are high in amino acids proline and lysine and collagen. If you don’t eat eggs, try adding peanuts for lysine.
Tomatoes are high in lycopene, a fat-soluble antioxidant helping to protect your collagen stores from damage.
Try eating butternut pumpkin for its Vitamin A content. Vitamin A encourages your body to make collagen.