I am often asked the question, “Can I stimulate collagen by eating certain foods?” I believe we can. Having youthful-looking, healthy skin is accomplished in several ways. Each method can bring about significant changes, but combining them yields the best result.
As we age, our body produces less collagen, since naturally occurring enzymes break collagen down, in turn, causing the skin to thin, lose fullness and form wrinkles. The sun, pollution, free radicals and smoke are also responsible for disintegrating collagen. Skin tightening and resurfacing treatments are the best way start the process of collagen regrowth. These treatments can range from Photo Rejuvenation to Fractional Ablation to Erbium Lasers to Micro-Needling to some deeper chemical peels. Deciding which treatment is right for you and your skin type would require a consultation with your skin care specialist.
Some topical products have an ability to stimulate collagen as well. It is best to choose prescription strength products that have clinical studies available to support their claims, not just buying over-the-counter products claiming to be ‘clinically proven’. The term clinically proven may mean virtually anything… or nothing. A ‘clinically proven’ statement in advertising is an effective sales pitch, usually a vague claim that requires no hard evidence and isn’t easy to disprove. But true scientific studies will be available from product companies who can prove their claims. Before investing in a product line, ask to see their studies.
Now to the original question, “Can I stimulate collagen by eating certain food?” Yes. A proper diet rich in nutrients, enzymes and fats can and will improve your skin. Start by eating more cold-water fish. Fish like tuna and salmon are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Our skin cells are surrounded by a fatty membrane that protects them. When the cells are healthy, they are able to support the structure of the skin.
Now add red vegetables. Tomatoes, peppers and beets contain the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene acts as a natural sunblock, protecting the skin from damage while increasing collagen levels.
Boost collagen production with dark green vegetables rich in vitamin C, like spinach and kale. Dark green vegetables also protect against free radicals to prevent weak collagen.
Eat plenty of vegetables that are orange in color, like carrots and sweet potatoes. They are rich in vitamin A, which restores and regenerates damaged collagen.
Blackberries and raspberries scavenge free radicals to ward off damage while simultaneously increasing collagen levels.
Try to incorporate soy into your diet. Whether sources come from soy milk, cheese or tofu, soy contains plant hormones that serve as antioxidants, which prompts collagen production and helps to block enzymes that can age the skin.
Studies show that citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruits that are rich in vitamin C have the ability to help amino acids like lysine and proline to convert to collagen. Vitamin C is also extremely important in helping to neutralize free radicals, which attack and break down collagen and elastin in the skin.
In addition to giving your body a dose of healthy protein that it needs, egg whites are high in both lysine and proline, as well as collagen itself, so adding more egg whites into your diet could help support your body’s natural production of collagen.
Garlic is one of the best sources of sulfur, which is necessary to collagen production in the body. Garlic also provides lipoic acid and taurine that help rebuild collagen fibers that have been damaged.
Oysters are a naturally rich source of zinc. Zinc is an essential element of the collagen-building process. They are full of vitamins and minerals including iron and vitamin B12, and provide a low-calorie option and a long list of health benefits. Not being a fan of oysters, I add zinc by eating beef, nuts and beans.
In case you haven’t noticed, all of the basic food groups have been represented here. Therefore, eating a clean, healthy diet is the best way to not only stimulate collagen repair and regrowth, but will also help you maintain optimum overall health. If you add a collagen stimulating treatment and a prescriptive strength, collagen stimulating skin care line to your daily regimen, you win! Because we all know, the one with the most collagen, WINS!!