Collagen is a type of protein that is produced to keep the skin firm and supple. Our body primarily produces collagen of three types/proteins: Types I, II, and III. However, as we age, the body produces lesser quantities of these proteins, leading to wrinkles and saggy skin.
In such an event, supplements or certain foods must be consumed in order to slow down this aging process and prolong the firmness of the skin.
Though collagen-boosting supplements and skincare have seen a rise globally in sales and thus, popularity, a study in 2012 showed that fruits and vegetables are the safest ways of boosting collagen production in the body.
Collagen has several benefits, some of which are:
- As mentioned above, it helps improve the skin’s overall health, giving it the elasticity that makes it look younger.
- It is also beneficial in relieving joint pain, as depleting levels of collagen(1) can lead to a weakening of the ligaments and muscles, thus affecting the joints.
- As collagen also helps keep our muscles at the peak of their health, it can also be a factor in increasing muscle mass, especially for those who work out or are regularly engaged in sports.
Collagen consists of three amino acids, namely glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline.
What Happens When Collagen Levels Drop
A drop in collagen levels can have several negative results. Some include:
- Wrinkling and saggy skin
- Weakened hair follicles resulting in an increase in hair fall
- An increase in joint pains
- Receding gums leading to increased tooth sensitivity and loose teeth
- An increase in muscle aches
Collagen Rich Foods
Proteins, mainly animal products such as chicken, fish, shellfish, and egg whites, are extremely rich in collagen and must be a staple in one’s diet. They’re also a rich source of protein and are essential to gain muscle mass and even lose weight.
You can try these meats in a variety of ways. You can grill, bake, or fry them. Alternatively, you can add them to salads and curries.
You must eat one of the above proteins in at least one meal every day in order to ensure that your body receives its daily dose of protein and energy.
[Read: Foods to Keep young]
If you wish to delay your aging process, certain collagen-rich fruits are a must in your daily diet. These include citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes, which are rich in vitamin C. Berries such as blueberries and blackberries, and tropical fruits such as mangoes, kiwis, pineapples, guavas are also rich in vitamin C are collagen.
There are a variety of ways in which you can make these fruits an active part of your diet. The best way is to eat them raw so as to extract the most nutritional benefit. Alternatively, you can also include them in fruit salad, juice, or smoothies.
Make sure to eat at least two fruits every day for breakfast to ensure that your body receives a continuous supply of collagen-rich foods.
Just like fruits, some vegetables are rich in collagen and other nutrients. Some of these include garlic, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Tomatoes are also rich in vitamin C, making them rich in collagen.
Vegetables can be consumed in a variety of ways, such as salads, curries, and also as a side dish to your meats.
Make sure to include vegetables in both lunch and dinner, as this will ensure an appropriate intake of collagen.
4. Legumes and Nuts
Legumes such as kidney beans, chickpeas, and nuts like cashews are also rich sources of collagen. They contain amino acids that are essential for the production of collagen in the body(2).
Cashews and legumes can be eaten raw and also be added to salads and curries. You can eat them as sides to proteins like meat.
You must include legumes in at least one meal daily or every alternate day.
Collagen-boosting skincare products aren’t as effective as they’re marketed to be, as the molecules are too large to seep through the layers of the epidermis.
The following is a sample meal plan that you can use as a starting point to include more collagen-rich foods in your daily diet:
- Milk, cereal, and a fruit salad
- Toast, egg whites, and orange juice
- Fruit salad with yogurt
- Almond milk and fruit smoothie
- Salmon and quinoa
- Grilled chicken and vegetable salad
- Banana and cream
- Scrambled eggs
- Sweet potato tacos and avocado dressing
- Kale and chicken salad
Collagen is crucial for one’s overall bodily wellness. It improves your skin by delaying the aging process, while also keeping your muscles and joints in good health. Since the body reduces its production of collagen as one grows older, it’s essential that you look towards external supplements and foods to boost its production. Active inclusion of the above-mentioned foods in your foods can help stimulate collagen production.
1. Does Collagen Help Once the Aging Process Has Already Begun?
Yes, even after one starts aging, a boost in collagen production can slow down the process, and in some cases, restore the skin’s firmness.
2. Is Sugar Counter-Productive to the Production of Collagen?
Sugars and refined carbs must ideally be reduced or even eliminated if possible to include more collagen-rich foods in your diet.
3. Can Retinol Be Used as a Replacement for collagen-boosting Supplements?
While retinol does have anti-aging benefits, it is helpful in improving more than just the condition of one’s skin. You can opt for a prescribed retinol dosage.