Your skin is the biggest organ in the body - it protects, breathes, regulates your temperature and is responsible for helping you feel. Just like any living thing, you skin needs feeding. Some nutrients in particular are particularly good in boosting the texture, strength and tone of your skin by protecting, maintaining or increasing the production of collagen - vital building block of your skin, cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments.
Collagen is a fibrous protein found throughout your body and acts like 'glue' that holds the cells in place, giving support and strength to skin and helping it maintain suppleness, firmness and elasticity - all hallmarks of youth. Collagen is also important because it supplies the body with new material to rebuild itself. As we age, collagen production slows and collagen also breaks down at a more rapid rate, causing skin cells to lose their support structure, forming wrinkles and sagging skin. Preventing collagen loss and boosting levels in the skin can help prevent age-related lines and other skin changes from occurring. Certain vitamins, foods and nutrients play a big part in helping the body to produce collagen and maintain it.
Antioxidant Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs): OPCs - a type of antioxidant - found mainly in grape seed and the bark of the French maritime pine trees are able to scavenge free radicals formed in the skin. OPCs can also capture the free radicals forms when ultra violet light penetrates the skin and stop the oxidation of lipids in cell membranes. OPCs can help prolong the elasticity of skin because it can bind to collagen to help strengthen the fibres. These powerful bioflavonoids also help in the continuous production of new collagen. OPCs also protects the destruction of vitamin C, contributing indirectly to collagen synthesis.
Bird's nest: Made from the saliva of the swiftlets, birds nest is rich in glycoproteins that can bring cells and collagen together giving them strength and support. Research shows that bird's nest contains an Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), which is able to promote the reproduction and regeneration of cells.
Collagen supplements: It may also be helpful to replenish collagen stores in the body with a collagen supplement. Choose one that not only contains collagen, but is easily absorbed (bioavailable) and have synergistic ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Coenzyme Q-10.
Vitamin C: To ensure that your body is able to produce collagen, you need to consume sufficient amounts of Vitamin C as the making of collagen only takes place under the influence of Vitamin C. Without Vitamin C, no collagen synthesis can take place. Vitamin C is found in fresh fruit and vegetables, such as papaya, strawberries, broccoli, pineapple and oranges
Eat your bones: Gnaw on the bones next time you eat chicken wings - it could be good for your skin. Animal skin, ligaments and tendons contain hyaluronic acid, an essential building block for healthy skin as it stimulates the production of collagen. Rich sources include broths made with chicken, pork, fish or beef bones, fish with soft bones (tinned sardines, anchovies) and cartilage.
Fish for dinner: Fish, especially oily fish, are not only a great source of protein, they also contain high amounts of lysine, an essential amino acid that plays an important role in the formation of collagen. Cod, tuna and sardines are great sources of lysine.
Get some garlic: Garlic is a good source of sulfur which is necessary to produce collagen. Garlic also contains large amounts of lipoic acid and taurine, which are used for rebuilding damaged collagen fibres.
Soy good for the skin: Studies have shown that soy products such as soy milk and tofu contain soy isoflavones that aids collagen production, improve fine wrinkles and improves aged skin.
Stock up on tomatoes: Tomatoes contain a great amount of lycopene which helps fight collagenases, an enzyme that destroys collagen in your body.
Glutathione: Comprising three amino acids, glutathione is an antioxidant that can detoxify the body, remove free radicals and help cells replicate. Besides all of that, glutathione is also able to lighten and whiten the skin. It does so by interacting with the melanin in your skin by reversing the darker pigments to lighter ones. Rich sources of glutathione include cumin, milk thistle, asparagus, potatoes and peppers. Selenium and alpha lipoic acid-rich foods also helps the body produce glutathione.
This article has been published with permission and is courtesy of GNC LiveWell, Malaysia.