Foods to Increase Collagen Production in Your Skin
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Collagen is a long, fibrous protein that together with elastin and soft keratin, forms the connective tissue (literally, the tissue that "connects" the skin together) which is responsible for your skin's elasticity and strength. Skin aging - thinning of the skin, appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and age spots, occur when the collagen begins to break down in your skin. This process is a natural part of aging, which usually begins by your late 20's.
When this begins to happen to us ("I think I see a new laugh line at the corner of my eyes"), many of us seek help in a bottle, or in a jar. And there are many good products out there. Some do a good job of giving temporary results and some don't. In a future article, I will cover which products you can trust.
For now, I want to warn you away from the many topical skin care products on the market that contain collagen and make great claims - THEY DON'T WORK! I know this is counter-intuitive; if your skin needs to rebuild collagen and the product contains collagen, it MUST work, right? Well, no. The reason these collagen-containing products don't work is that the collagen molecules are just too large to get inside the skin and do their job of rebuilding. In short, they are simply imposters.
Lifestyle Strategies for Beautiful Skin
So, with all the options available, how in the world are you supposed to know what YOU can do to rejuvenate your skin's elasticity and plumpness? Great question. In this article, we are going to look at the lifestyle strategies that you can adopt to slow down, halt, and even reverse the aging process in your skin to an amazing degree.
- First and foremost, DO NOT SMOKE. If you already smoke, the best thing you can do for your skin is to quit. Nothing ages your skin quite so fast as smoking.
- If you consume alcohol, do so in extreme moderation, as alcohol has a very similar effect on the skin as cigarette smoking.
- Exercise a minimum of three to four times a week. Exercise is good for every aspect of your health, and your skin is no exception.
- Finally, the lifestyle choice that has the capacity to make the most improvement in your skin is eating the right foods. Notice that I did not give the garden variety advice to "eat right." There are very specific nutrients that work to protect the existing collagen in your skin, and there are nutrients that actually stimulate collagen regrowth in your skin.
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You must build collagen from the inside out!
The inside-to-outside approach is always your best bet for health and beauty. To look younger, your body must produce new collagen cells in your skin. You must consume foods that help your body protect the collagen it has, while providing the building blocks it needs to build new collagen fibers.
Cold water fish, such as salmon, sardines, cod, mackerel, and tuna are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that keep skin soft and supple. Eating three to four ounces at least twice a week gives you good amounts of these essential fatty acids. If you are vegan, you can take two Tbsp. of flax seed oil daily instead.
Garlic contains sulfur, which helps your body produce collagen. Garlic contains taurine and lipoid acid, which support damaged collagen fibers. Make garlic a regular component of your meat dishes, stews, beans, soups, ethnic meals, and pasta.
Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which inhibits collagenases. Collagenases are enzymes that destroy collagen. While many foods have higher nutrient values when they are eaten raw, tomatoes actually contain greater amounts of lycopene when they are cooked. Enjoy liberal doses of stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, marinara sauce, and spaghetti sauce.
Vitamin C: Collagen-Boosting Supernutrient
Vitamin C is critical for collagen production in the skin. Therefore, you'll want to make it a priority to eat foods high in Vitamin C.
Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of Vitamin C. And of course, we all know that citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit are good sources of Vitamin C. That is true. However, did you know that even though these foods ARE good sources of Vitamin C, they are NOT THE BEST sources?
That's right. A number of other fruits and vegetables contain superior amounts of Vitamin C to citrus fruit! Surprisingly, for you guys and gals that love spicy foods, hot chili peppers is THE TOP PICK for Vitamin C - both the red and green varieties! I always knew there was a reason to love salsa. Ola!!
Best Sources of Vitamin C
Vitamin C per 3.5 ounce serving
Hot chili peppers, green (raw)
Sweet peppers, yellow (raw)
Black currants, European (raw)
Sweet peppers, green (sauteed)
Sweet peppers, red (sauteed)
Hot chili peppers, red (raw)
120 - 130 mg.
Mustard greens (raw)
Sweet peppers, red (raw)
Tomatoes, sun-dried (in oil)
Vitamin C Superfoods
To the right are tables of the foods highest in Vitamin C. I have grouped the foods in the tables to the right and below according to amounts of Vitamin C they contain:
Best sources of Vitamin C - 100 to 200+ mg.
More good sources of Vitamin C - 77 to 100 mg.
As you can see in more detail in the tables, the top Vitamin C-containing superfoods are . . . . .
- hot peppers!
- sweet peppers
- oranges and grapefruits
- dark leafy greens
More Good Sources of Vitamin C
Number of mg. of Vitamin C per 100 gram serving (3.5 ounces)
Brussel sprouts (raw)
Banana peppers (raw)
Sweet peppers, green (raw)
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