Gloomy winter months can leave our skin dull and grey. Increased food miles from out of season fruit and veg at this time of year decreases its nutritional content. Environmental factors such as harsh cold weather, smoking, stress, excessive drinking over the festive period and reduced sunshine hours (reduced vitD31) can take its toll not only on how we feel but also on our skin.
How can we regain that healthy glow and reduce the ageing process?
Let’s look into collagen. Perhaps you have taken collagen supplements or have taken a form of gelatine to improve the condition of skin, nails and hair but did you know that we produce 16 types of collagen that are responsible for different functions in our body! Our body mostly consists of collagen type I, II and III which other than water is the most abundant substance and covers about 80-90% of our body. All collagen contains 19 amino acids (proteins) which are the building blocks for our skin, tendons and bones. Collagen 1 and 3 support the skin, muscles, hair and nails while collagen type 2 controls fluids and activity in our cartilage and joints. Glycine, proline, alanine, and hydroxyproline are the main proteins found in collagen type 1 and 32. These are the key components responsible for collagen synthesis and stability.
What should we eat to help collagen thrive?
Vitamin C and E: Type 1 and 3 take the main roles in supporting the antiaging process as well as improving the skins elasticity and minimising fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin C is a versatile vitamin which supports collagen production beneath the surface and protects against UV light. Despite the common conception that oranges are loaded with vitamin C the average orange only provides 69.7 mg of vitamin C, less than other fruits and vegetables.
The most concentrated amount of vitC can be found in fruits such as guava, kiwis (two fruits contain approximately 137.2 mg of vitamin C!) red bell peppers (1 cup of red peppers contains 190 mg of vitC, more than an orange) and vegetables such as kale (1 cup provides 80.4 mg of vitamin C), broccoli and cauliflower.
Environmental factors from sun damage, age related hormonal changes (such as pigmentation), smoking and alcohol consumption can contribute to oxidative damage of our cells and effect collagen fibres within the dermis.
Incorporating foods into your diet high in antioxidants such as vitamin E may help to neutralise free radicals, protect the cells membrane from sun damage and stimulate the production of collagen. Pumpkin seeds, Swiss chard, oats, almonds and mustard greens are a great source of vitamin E. Supplementing 400 milligrams of vitamin E a day has been shown to reduce photoaging, wrinkles and improve the skins elasticity3.
Good sources of protein
Elastin and collagen (the structure of our skin) are built mainly of protein. To prevent the loss of skin tone and to maintain a youthful look we require high quality protein. It is recommended that approximately 15-25%4 of our total daily calories should come from protein. Tofu, poultry (rich source of collagen), fish (rich source of collagen found in skin), beans, peas, pulses, quinoa and seeds such as hemp or chia are just a few sources of good quality protein. If you struggle with your daily intake you may find that supplementing using a good quality protein powder (high protein varieties are also available for vegans) can be a incorporated into smoothies, shakes, pancakes, overnight oats or porridge.
Dark circles, blemishes, dry and flaky skin are warning signs that your skin may be dehydrated. Drinking between 1.5 and 2 litres of water daily helps to flush out toxins and impurities and keeps your skin hydrated. If you struggle with water, you can try tea (which are rich in antioxidants) such as green or matcha.
Dandelion, nettle, milk thistle, red clover and goji are good cleansing teas (diuretics!) which promote the excretion of toxins from the body. Coconut water is high in electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium) and also contains a good amount of vitamin C. The presence of electrolytes, vitC, ascorbic acids and essential amino acids makes it a perfect drink to have when your skin feels dehydrated!
Omega 3 essential fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are commonly called “an internal moisturiser”. Healthy fats found in oily fish, avocados, olive oil, nuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds are known to support hormonal health, the nervous system and cardiovascular health. Most importantly they help to restore the intestinal wall integrity and protect the epithelial cells hence improve essential nutrients’ absorption. A healthy gut leads to healthy skin! Consuming healthy fats on the daily basis can also help to control the skin oil production, eliminate signs of dehydration and improves dewiness. According to study published in the Journal of Lipid Research Omega 3 EPA can help block the release of the UV-induced enzymes that impair our collagen production, causing lines and sagging5.
If we produce collagen naturally why should we supplement it?
As we grow older our collagen production decreases resulting in skin thinning and reduced elasticity. Dermis, the inner layer of our skin, contains large amounts of collagen whose fibres form a supporting mesh responsible for the skin’s mechanical characteristics such as strength, texture and resilience. Sometimes this structure gets interrupted by external factors which may prevent the manufacture of skin cells. Supplementing with minerals such as Zink and Copper or vitamins B, C and E may support the production of collagen fibres, collagen synthesis and its maturation. Hyaluronic acid is known from its atopic use but it can also be a potent humectant, which retains moisture to give skin extra elasticity. Aspic jelly or bone broth is a natural source of hyaluronic acid and collagen. It is available in powder or pouches ready to drink or you can make it at home and freeze it in an ice cube tray for later consumption.
There are many dietary collagen supplements, however not all of them can be efficient when taken together. If you would like to discuss your supplement needs or enquire about vitamin and mineral deficiency testing please get in touch via: email@example.com or online at www.persea.clinic.