Your skin, ligaments, tendons, and bones; they all contain this protein – collagen. The term is more often discussed in the context of skin health because it is one of the main building blocks of the skin and plays a major role in keeping the skin healthy and rejuvenated. In fact, 75% of the skin’s support structure is made up of collagen. There are several plant as well as animal foods that can boost collagen production in our body. In this article, however, we are focusing on plant foods that increase collagen production.
What Is The Structure Of Collagen?
All known proteins comprise amino acids. Collagen contains three of such amino acids namely; glycine, hydroxyproline, and proline. The collagen molecule is a triple helix-shaped one. It forms a structure similar to that of a mesh in the layer of skin that lies beneath the epidermis called the dermis; by combining with other collagen molecules present in the skin.
What Are The Benefits Offered By Collagen To Our Body?
Collagen gives structure, texture, rigidity, and toughness to body tissues. It resembles a layer of leather. On intermingling with elastic fibers, the protein offers strength and resilience to the skin. Degradation of collagen and the drop in their levels in the body leads to wrinkles in the skin, weaker muscles, stiffness of tendons and ligaments, joint pain, and even gastrointestinal issues.
Causes Of Collagen Loss
Your age and genetics play a significant role in collagen production. When you age, collagen starts degrading. Accumulation of free radicals also contributes to collagen loss. Bad lifestyle habits like smoking, environmental factors like pollution and UV rays, and a poor diet can lead to free radical accumulation in our body.
Research suggests that the act of smoking permits the free radicals to ambush the collagen fibrils which ultimately make them weak. Excess sugar and refined carbohydrates in your diet can lead to inflammation and collagen damage. Hence it is important to cut down on refined carbs and sugar.
Plant Foods That Can Improve Collagen Production
Here are some plant foods that increase collagen production in our body.
Vitamin C is inevitable in producing the precursor of collagen in our body – the pro-collagen. This sheds light on the importance of vitamin C in ensuring collagen production. Tomato is a rich source of vitamin C. In fact, a medium tomato can provide up to 30 percent of vitamin C that is important for collagen production. Tomatoes also have lycopene in large amounts. Lycopene is an antioxidant that improves skin health.
No healthy diet is complete without leafy greens! Leafy greens like Swiss chard, Spinach, and others get their color from chlorophyll that is well known for its antioxidant properties. According to a few studies, chlorophyll maximizes the precursor to collagen in the skin.
Garlic is famed for its high sulfur content. The trace mineral can help synthesize collagen and prevent its breakdown. However, the amount in which you consume garlic is also important. You may have to consume a lot of it to get the full benefits of collagen. Adding garlic to your regular diet is worth it.
Eating more fruits rich in vitamin C can boost collagen production in your body. Tropical fruits like guava, kiwi, mango, and pineapple are rich in vitamin C. Guava also has zinc – another mineral that can boost collagen production.
The rich vitamin C content of citrus fruits is well-known. Citrus fruits like lime, oranges, lemon, and grapefruit are powerhouses of vitamin C. Ensure to include a few orange slices or grapefruit for breakfast.
Berries are also excellent sources of vitamin C. In fact, the per-ounce vitamin C content of strawberries is greater than that of oranges. Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries also have significant vitamin C content. Berries are also rich in antioxidants, thus protecting the skin from the epic free-radical damage.
Beans are known for their high level of proteins and they often have amino acids that are essential for collagen synthesis. Many are rich in copper – a mineral that is a necessity in the case of collagen production.
Bell peppers are rich in vitamin C. The vegetable also contains capsaicin, an anti-inflammatory compound that is capable of reducing the signs of aging. So remember to toss in a few pieces of chopped bell peppers in your salads or sandwiches.
Cashews are rich in zinc and copper – two minerals that can help the body in producing collagen. Adding cashews to your snack is a healthy way to reduce the degradation of collagen.
Although collagen is most popular in the skin-care sector, its benefits aren’t limited to skin health. The protein is crucial for the health of joints and muscles and also facilitates healthy digestion. You may take collagen supplements if needed but discuss with your doctor and take supplements of the reputed brands alone.