How to Prevent Collagen Loss with Ageing

Collagen is vital for maintaining the integumentary system, which includes the skin, hair and nails. According to a WebMD report, collagen comprises approximately 30 percent of the body’s protein. Collagen provides structure and support for the connective tissue that makes up certain organs, muscles and other structures in the body. It does this by acting as a scaffold from which new cells are produced. Aging causes collagen to break down faster than it can be replaced. This leads to wrinkles and other signs of aging on the skin as well as weakened muscles and organs. However, there are a number of ways to slow or stop this process, helping you retain your youthful appearance longer.

If your body has low levels of collagen, you may feel joint pain or weakness when doing everyday activities such as walking. If you’re worried about your collagen levels, there are some signs and symptoms to watch out for. Much of these are related to the health of your skin, as this is the largest organ that collagen works with.

  • Loose skin
  • Stretch marks
  • Dry skin
  • Wrinkles
  • Hair loss or thinning hair
  • Brittle nails

What Causes Collagen Loss?

The ageing process is a complex one, and scientists still aren’t entirely certain of all the ways that it occurs. What they do know is that your body loses the ability to make collagen as you age, which leads to wrinkles, dryness and skin sagging.

There are many potential causes of collagen loss, though some are more common than others. These include:

  • Oxidative stress – Free radicals in your body can damage protein structures causing them to lose their function
  • UV damage – Sun exposure leads to oxidative stress and can also affect collagen directly
  • Exposure to chemicals – Some chemicals may reduce collagen production or increase its degradation in your body
  • Inflammation – Inflammation can increase the breakdown of collagen in the skin and throughout your body
  • Smoking – Tobacco smoke is associated with increased oxidative stress
  • Poor diet – Nutrient deficiencies can lead to decreased collagen production
  • Lack of exercise – Physical activity increases blood flow which prevents nutrient deficiencies by delivering nutrients throughout your body more effectively; it also reduces inflammation.

The first things to do:

  • Wear sunscreen: UV rays from the sun damage collagen, so it’s smart to apply SPF daily and to limit your exposure by staying out of direct sunlight when you can.
  • Stay hydrated: Dehydration causes collagen fibers to tighten, which leads to wrinkles and fine lines. Drink plenty of water and eat foods that are high in water, like cucumbers and celery.
  • Get enough sleep: When you’re well-rested, your body produces hormones that allow skin cells to regenerate. Make sure you get at least 6 hours a night (some experts say more).

Best Food Sources of Collagen

You can also get collagen by eating the right foods. Several amino acids are needed to make collagen, so you’ll need to eat meat, eggs, and fish to have a proper supply of these. Vitamins A and C are also necessary for the process, so be sure to add plenty of broccoli, citrus fruits, peppers, dark leafy greens, and berries into your diet.

The good news is that you can easily incorporate food sources of collagen into your daily meals with only minimal effort. Add a few slices of avocado when making tacos or salads; toss some asparagus spears on the grill for a side dish; sip a steaming cup of bone broth; or whip up a smoothie with raspberries and blueberries for breakfast.

Foods to Avoid

As we mentioned above, sugar is known to be one of the worst culprits for breaking down collagen and elastin—and this includes processed foods as well. While it’s tricky to avoid sugar entirely, there are a few things you can do to cut back on your consumption.

The first step is to check the labels of any packaged foods you buy. If there is more than five grams of sugar per serving, put it back on the shelf! Another thing you can do is opt for whole grains rather than refined ones (try quinoa instead of white rice). They may be more nutritious, but refined grains still break down into sugar in your body—which means they’ll contribute to collagen loss just as much as candy bars will.

Finally, make sure to avoid alcohol and caffeine. Both are diuretics that will actually rob your body of the water it needs to produce collagen and elastin naturally.

Vitamin C

  • Add Vitamin C to your diet: It’s no secret that vitamin C is a powerhouse when it comes to health. Did you know that it can also boost collagen production in the body too? Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, broccoli and green peppers and acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage by neutralizing free radicals. In addition, it’s been shown to aid in wound healing and soften wrinkles.
  • Take a supplement: If you’re not getting enough vitamin C through your diet, consider taking a supplement.
  • Apply topically: In some clinical studies, researchers have found that applying topical creams with vitamin C can lead to increased radiance and hydration of the skin due to its ability to fight free radicals.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are integrally important to collagen formation. A diet rich in antioxidants will increase your body’s ability to produce collagen by minimizing oxidative stress. Vitamins C and E are particularly beneficial as they play a critical role in antioxidant activity. Vitamin C is also important because it facilitates the production of new collagen, while Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that protects cell membranes from free radical damage, providing an additional protective function against oxidative stress.

Foods that contain antioxidants include garlic, green tea, tomatoes and citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons. These foods can easily be incorporated into your daily diet for the maximum benefit to your skin’s health