Top 5 Natural Ways to Boost Collagen In Your Skin and stop premature aging
Do you ever wonder why our skin looks plump and glowing in our teens and why it loses its volume and wrinkles, as we grow older? One of the main reasons is the loss of collagen. As older we get, as less collagen, we produce and as more of it we break down. It’s a natural process, and although we can’t stop it altogether, we can slow it down by supplementing with collagen orally and by incorporating a few simple lifestyle changes.
The main culprits in collagen damage in the skin are free radicals, sugar, alcohol, tobacco smoking, excessive sun exposure and stress. There’s no amount of collagen supplement that can save your skin from premature aging until you address these. Contrary to a lot of information out there, it is not rocket science and the strategies to implement in your daily life are very simple.
Here are our top 5 ways to boost collagen in your skin:
- Fix your diet
- Quit sugar
- Watch or quit your alcohol intake
- Avoid excessive sun exposure
1. Fix your diet
Eat whole foods diet and ditch all processed foods. Processed foods are usually low in nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and high in sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils and other harmful additives, which cause inflammation in your body and damage your collagen.
You need lots of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E to fight free radicals and you can find those in vegetables and fruits; not so much in snack bars and croissants. Even the foods that are enriched with vitamins and minerals are never as good as having the ‘real thing’, nature’s food in its original form. Human-made vitamins and minerals do not absorb in our body as efficiently as the natural ones. You also need an adequate amount of good fats to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
2. Quit sugar
Sugar in the bloodstream attaches to collagen and elastin molecules via the glycation process to form harmful new particles called “advanced glycation end products’ (AEG’s). The more sugar you eat, the more AGE’s you develop, and the more collagen and elastin fibres get damaged. The glycation process also transforms the most stable and long-lasting collagen fibres to more fragile tissues. This is one of the main reasons sugar makes humans age on the inside and outside. Too much AGE’s make our skin more wrinkly and saggy, change biomechanical properties of tendons for worse and leads to gut issues due to damage to the intestinal lining resulting in inflammation.
Furthermore, sugar competes with vitamin C for space in cells due to the similarities in their chemical structure. Diet high in sugar leads to low levels of vitamin C, thus inhibiting the formation of new collagen fibres.
3. Watch your alcohol intake.
Regular drinking is one of the worst things you can do to your skin as it damages it by several pathways. It dehydrates you, creates inflammation and produces lots of free radicals, which destroy your collagen fibres. Alcohol also robs your body of vitamins necessary for collagen production and skin rejuvenation. As older you get, as more, you have to watch your liquor and drink fewer drinks less frequently. And don’t get fooled into thinking that a daily glass of red wine is healthy. It isn’t. The antioxidative benefits of wine are minuscule in comparison to the adverse effects. Do we have to mention that alcohol contains sugar, the number one collagen slayer? Think of alcohol as a decadent cake and enjoy it on special occasions only.
4. Avoid excessive sun exposure.
Although we need a daily dose of vitamin D from the sun for optimal mental and physical health (including healthy skin), excessive UV radiation from sunlight is a significant trigger of free radicals (reactive oxygen species). Free radicals destroy collagen and elastin, epidermal lipids, membrane lipids, mitochondria and other cellular organelles as well as DNA.
So where do we draw the line between not enough and too much sun exposure? Once again, it’s not rocket science. Expose your skin and eyes to the sun every day first thing in the morning when the sun is not very strong. Once you had enough, apply sunscreen and don’t bake at the beach for hours. The duration of healthy sun exposure varies depending on the season of the year. As well as your skin type. Osteoporosis Australia has a great simple guideline here.
Chronic stress causes inflammation in the whole body, including your skin. Cortisol, the hormone produced during stress, literally blasts our collagen fibres. If that wasn’t bad enough, the inflammatory cytokines and free radicals produced while we are stressing damage DNA and can suppress hyaluronic acid production, which causes dryness and dullness of the skin.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to quit your job or move to the other side of the world in order to save your skin. Implementing small changes to your daily routine will make a huge difference. Good quality sleep for at least 7 hours each night, not checking your emails and phone before bed, using a meditation app few minutes each day and learning how to breath properly is our top simple de-stressing strategies.