The secret to glowing, firmer and smoother skin lies in collagen--the naturally occurring protein in our body that provides elasticity to the skin and strength to our bones. Collagen is essential to form and maintain numerous tissues in bones and cartilage as well as hair, eyes, skin, and digestive system. So in the quest for natural, wrinkle-free skin many try out everything that pops up on internet search or any advice that comes pouring forth from friends, colleagues and the likes. However, what many tend to ignore is if these methods are actually boosting collagen. We asked Lavleen Kaur, Co-founder and Head dietitian at Diet Insight, a nutrition & wellness clinic based in Chandigarh to help us understand collagen better and also to tell us natural ways to boost collagen in our body with the proper diet.
Are collagen supplements effective?
The naturally occurring supplement is already present in our skin, eyes, bones, joints and cartilages in a very high quantity, so you may ask then why are individuals consuming it? It is because our body cuts down on the production of collagen as we age. Hence as we grow old, our eyes become weak, our skin loses elasticity and develops wrinkles, our joints start aching, and our hair starts getting thinner.
So, is collagen supplement effective? Well, there have been several studies done to test its efficiency, and the results are quite contradictory. Mark Moyad, author of The Supplement Handbook: A Trusted Expert's Guide to What Works and What’s Worthless for More Than 100 Conditions, says that many of the studies done so far on collagen are small-scale and at least partially funded by industry. "Science is truly in its infancy,” Moyad told WebMD in an article published in December 2019. “There’s a lot of conflict of interest, and not enough quality control.”
"Logically, like any other protein consumed through supplements or natural sources, it breaks down into three amino acids. Once broken down, it determines and priorities the body part that requires it the most. Hence, it cannot be said for sure whether the protein would affect or improve the desired body part. Supplements are never a substantial means to maintain your body, so before you resort to them, try changing a few daily habits," says Lavleen. She lists out few things you can do to boost collagen.
Avoid excess refined sugar
Refined sugar is truly harmful to our body as it hampers the collagen's ability to heal and renew. As we consistently consume sugar, it binds the collagen fiber leading to glycation, which results in accelerated ageing.
Consume vital nutrients
Your body not only needs protein but also various necessary micro-nutrients to support and promote the healthy production of collagen. These micronutrients include vitamin C, which one can get from guavas, oranges, goose berries, kiwi, lemon, tomato, pepper, zinc from cashews, almonds, and other seeds, sulfur from broccoli, onion, garlic, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, and eggplant.
Exercising is literally one of the best ways to achieve the desired results. In order to avoid collagen wastage, you can start with muscle training that will help the protein to actually target the bones and ligaments and promote cell renewal.
Balance Collagen intake
As mentioned above, supplements can never replace healthy and naturally occurring food. If you can consume meat, then fish, shellfish, bone broth, eggs, or other animal products are a good source of collagen. While beans, peas, sprouts, legumes, pulses, and dairy products are among the vegetarian alternatives.
However, too much collagen should also be avoided. Moderation and balance is the key to achieving a healthy body. "Excess collagen can lead to kidney stones, gut problems, lack of appetite, and toxicity," cautions Lavleen.
A nutritionist-approved diet plan to naturally boost collagen production
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