Over time, we may not make collagen as well or in as large of quantities, or it may break down faster than before – but can eating collagen rich foods to support its production can help reduce that degradation? Since I couldn’t help but notice how Asians and Middle Easterns have beautiful skin (sorry Europe, my love) and how beautiful my grandma looks at her age. It was so interesting to me that I had to research this subject and share it with you. If taking, for example zinc supplements may help slow down the rate of collagen breakdown, why wouldn’t then zinc rich foods do the same?
Oh, you bone broth, you are so trendy right now and everyone wants to eat you, or drink – at least once a day. Well, trends are here to follow but let’s not forget bone broth is here for ages. In my culture, growing up, bone broth or “domaća mamina juha” was something we would eat every single day. Literally before every single meal, we would eat this as a starter. I never have paid attention on a fact how great my moms and grandmothers skin looks like. There has to be something in it! Nowadays, I honestly don’t eat it that often now, but I love it – it is so healing (hint: hungover) and there is a damn good reason behind it. While most foods contain antioxidants and other nutrients to help the body synthesize collagen, bone broth is one of the rare foods to actually contain a bioavailable form of collagen your body can use right away.
Did you know that most of the collagen used to be derived from cow and pig skins? But now, collagen derived from fish skin is considered as the best alternative because of its high availability, no risk of disease transmission and no religious barriers. So, does this mean consumption of animal skin could result in glowing and elastic skin? And I am not speaking about some weird rituals, I am speaking about roasted skin – crispy, crunchy, and so full of collagen that it leaves your hands sticky. Well, I am just going to say: take a look at Asian skin – they do consume a lot of those. Korean dakbang – chicken feet, tendons and bone broths (Pho, Beef noodle soup etc.) are just some of the dishes on their plates. Does this help with collagen production? I honestly don’t know, you don’t know either. Is it scientifically proven? It is not, but my name wouldn’t be Ivana if I wouldn’t be thinking that it might have an influence on skin’s elasticity.
I am absolutely nuts about fish and Omega-3 rich foods (which reduce inflammation and help building healthy skin cells) and I consume lots of it (Mediterranean cuisine, thanks). But, it is important to mention that salmon (wild one, though) contains zinc, a trace mineral that’s been shown to activate the proteins needed for collagen synthesis. So, go for your salmon and don’t forget to eat skin as well.
Oh, melon! I am so into this one this summer – I am literally forcing myself to eat as much of the melon I can – even though I was watermelon team, always. Melon is abundant in beta-carotene, a nutrient that protects against sun damage and helps restore damaged collagen. The body transforms beta-carotene into vitamin A, and uses it to help grow and repair body tissues. So, are you also switching the delicious watermelon for a juicy melon?
You either love or absolutely hate this aphrodisiac – I am on a love side, what can I do, I really love food. Whether fresh or canned, oysters are rich in copper, mineral that plays a role in collagen production. Copper also keeps your bones, heart and blood vessels healthy. Cashews, oysters, crab and sunflower seeds all contain considerable amounts of copper, and a serving of beef liver provides your entire recommended daily intake.
Pumpkin seeds were my favourite snack as a kid. I just loved to eat them whole, without even peeling them – I can’t be the only one, people! Pumpkin seeds are one of the richest plant sources of zinc, which acts as a cofactor for collagen synthesis. Zinc helps speed up wound healing, and maintain healthy cell membranes, which makes zinc a must-have nutrient for skin health.
Chlorella is a single-celled alga and it may be Nature’s version of retinol in a green powder (tablet) form. Why? Well, chlorella a rich source of beta-carotene, but it also contains nutrient that may help boost collagen production – Chlorella Growth Factor. Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF), is a nutrient that’s entirely unique to chlorella. CGF contains the nucleic acids RNA and DNA, which give our cells instructions on which functions to perform, including cellular repair and regeneration, which may help boost collagen synthesis.
All green plant foods (bok choy, green algae, arugula, kale, lettuce, green beans broccoli) contain chlorophyll, which is the pigment that gives plants their vibrant green color. Studies have shown that consuming chlorophyll increases the precursor to collagen (procollagen) in the skin. Of course, greens are the best eaten, but chlorophyll and liquid chlorophyll supplements have also been shown to provide strong antioxidant activity against UV damage and the free radicals from toxins that promote premature aging.
I think it is safe to say avocado is my religion, my partner, my lover, my everything. My lovely grandma used to call avocados avocadocados when I first started to eat them – they are another food with powerful antioxidant benefits. They provide vitamin E to help prevent collagen breakdown, as well as healthy fats to improve the health of skin cells. If you are not a fan of avocado (I can’t understand it, but I know the people that aren’t – even though I am pretty sure my guac would convert them) you can try to include cold pressed avocado oil into your life – the best in a salad dressing.
Quinoa, quinoa, quinoa! So delicious and good for you. Just one cup of this ancient grain delivers more than eight grams of collagen supportive protein and a bit of zinc, a mineral that assists with the amino acid to collagen transformation. Lucky us, quinoa is so easy to cook and include in your nutrition, just assemble a simple and delicious bowl by combining quinoa, sweet potatoes, your favourite greens, salmon and top it off with tahini dressing.
Citrus fruits are amongst the richest sources of vitamin C which helps to link the amino acids together that are needed to form collagen. As an antioxidant, vitamin C also protects us against toxins found in our air, food and water and helps with skin cell repair and regeneration – the reason why it is commonly recommended for wrinkle prevention and added to skincare productions. To read how to make my super healthy lemonade, click here.
Vegetables that are orange in color, like carrots and sweet potatoes, are rich in vitamin A, which restores and regenerates damaged collagen. Also, have your parents been telling you how healthy are carrots for your eyesight? Well, it obviously didn’t work out for me, but hey let’s improve that skin and dip that carrot in a delicious hummus (tahini is the next one in line).
Sesame seeds are an amazing source of amino acids, vitamin E, B vitamins, trace minerals and fatty acids that all help with skin cell rejuvenation and preventing early signs of aging. Tahini (sesame paste) provides minerals like zinc, which are needed to repair damaged tissue and produce collagen. Sesame oil has been used to treat skin wounds, burns, sensitivities and dryness for thousands of years, which is why it’s called “the queen of oils”.
Tomatoes (red vegetables)
Tomatoes (also peppers and beets) are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which has been shown to protect the skin from sun damage and prevent collagen breakdown. Lycopene acts as a natural sunblock, protecting the skin from damage while increasing collagen levels. It is important to mention tomatoes are also rich in vitamin C and lycopene has displayed anti-cancer potential in a variety of laboratory studies. In the laboratory, tomato components have stopped the proliferation of several other cancer cells types, including breast, lung, and endometrial.
Interesting fact that I’ve learned is that canned tomato puree or pomodori pelati (processed canned tomatoes) contain lycopene that can be absorbed more efficiently by the body. The chemical form of lycopene found in tomatoes is converted by the temperature changes involved in processing to make it more easily absorbed by the body. So, that means you shouldn’t hesitate to make another mediterranean tomato salsa with canned tomatoes since it is a tremendous source of this carotenoid.
Berries contain a nutrient called ellagic acid, which has been shown to prevent collagen breakdown from UV damage. Like citrus fruits, berries are rich in vitamin C, which helps link specific amino acids together for collagen formation. So, what are you waiting for? Dive into binge berry eating fiesta – just mix some Blackberries and raspberries with your favourite yoghurt, honey and cinnamon and watch that signs of ageing disappear.
White tea is known to be one of the most delicate tea varieties because it is minimally processed. Minimal processing and low oxidation results in some of the most delicate and freshest tea available. White tea is harvested before the tea plant’s leaves open fully, when the young buds are still covered by fine white hairs, hence the name “white” tea.
White tea may protect the structural proteins of the skin, specifically collagen. It’s believed to prevent enzyme activity that breaks down collagen, contributing to lines and wrinkles.
Garlic and its close cousins (shallots, leeks, chives, onions) are the best dietary sources of sulfur – a trace mineral that helps synthesize and prevent the breakdown of collagen. It also provides lipoic acid and taurine that help rebuild collagen fibers that have been damaged. So, don’t be afraid to add them to your recipes liberally – I think sexy garlic breath is worth enduring for more glowing skin.
Are you eating any of the foods on a regular basis? I am personally doing my best to eat a lot of those, and I can see the difference – with all my honesty. If you do – did you notice any difference in your skin appearance or elasticity? I would love to know, so don’t hesitate to share your opinion.