Introducing the Collagen Diet

Yes, you can eat your way to boost this vital skin protein.

Collagen, the essential skin protein. The invisible support structure keeping skin firm, plump and young from the inside-out and the outside-in. The protein whose decline is regulated like a timer. Every year, from our late twenties, skin will lose it at a rate of 1%1 since its production slows down. But this happens even faster if we over-eat foods that accelerate this natural 1% decline. To find out how much the foods that pass our lips impact the collagen in our skin, read on.

Off the menu: Non-natural sugars
The buzzword in skin that emerged at the end of the Noughties, was glycation. The process by which a type of sugar molecule (glucose) enters the bloodstream through our food - and binds on to collagen, stiffening the fibers and forming what are called Advanced Glycation End products, or AGEs. AGEs do as their acronym suggests, they age skin. They accumulate to disrupt collagen, making skin stiff and less elastic. To stop collagen stocks depleting faster than they should, avoid anything containing white, refined sugar, which impacts the body’s ability to age well.

On the menu: Natural sugars
In the movement to slow glycation and take an inside-out approach to better skin, there was a time when every other blogger sang the wonders of quitting sugar for good, the online space flooded with “sugar-free in weeks” diet plans. Now a much-researched factor of skin aging, the dermatological reality is glycation is a natural process that occurs over a lifetime but which speeds up if we consume too much refined sugar. Rather than quitting, since sugar is an energy source, dermatologists advise keeping intake as natural as possible and remind us that naturally occurring sugars, such as glucose, fructose (found in fruits) and lactose (found in dairy products), can act as energy sources for the body.

Off the menu: refined carbohydrates
But this doesn’t apply to me, I don’t eat refined/added/white sugar, we hear you say. But there’s also the hidden sugar hit. All the refined carbs, found mainly in anything white, like white bread, white pasta or crisps, can transform into glucose very quickly in the bloodstream. The dermatological advice is to keep all of those to a minimum.

On the menu: Vitamin C is for Collagen
Vitamin C can play a role in increasing collagen in skin. One study showed that Vitamin C both boosted collagen production and the quality of its support in the skin’s actual structure2. Support the collagen factory in your skin by eating Vitamin C foods other than the obvious - sweet potatoes and red peppers for instance, are full of vitamin C.

On the menu: Vitamin E is also for Collagen
Evidence also suggests natural vitamin E helps against collagen cross-linking3. Cross-linking, of which glycation is one type, is when collagen fibers bind together and become stiff. So Vitamin E will essentially aid in slowing down the process of collagen hardening, keeping skin’s healthy collagen-sourced bounce. Find plentiful Vitamin E in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.

On the menu: Steam, don’t fry
And boil rather than grill. “Recent studies have revealed that certain methods of food preparation, grilling, frying, and roasting produce much higher levels of AGEs than water-based cooking methods such as boiling and steaming.”4 This is one explanation for the youthful appearance of elderly people in Asia since water-based practices are characteristic of Asian cooking.”5

Collagen from the outside-in.
LiftActiv Collagen Specialist fills skin with peptides that short fragments of proteins, capable of targeting specific ageing signs caused by collagen loss on skin: wrinkles, sagginess, loss of firmness and tonicity.

What’s amazing is that such small changes can keep your skin’s collagen factory working at full capacity for longer. Research showed glycemic control, keeping blood sugar levels low by avoiding such refined carbs and added sugar, over a 4-month period resulted in a reduction in glycated collagen levels by as much as 25%6. That’s one big percentage reason to start – and stick to a diet that puts collagen first.

1. The influence of age and sex in skin thickness, skin collagen and density - Sam Shuster & al
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18505499
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/
4. H.P. Nyugen, R. Katta, ‘Sugar Sag: Glycation and the Role of Diet in Aging Skin’ in Skin therapy letter (2015) 20.6 pp. 1-5 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27224842]
5. Danby FW. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Jul-Aug;28(4):409-11.
6. H.P. Nyugen, R. Katta, ‘Sugar Sag: Glycation and the Role of Diet in Aging Skin’ in Skin therapy letter (2015) 20.6 pp. 1-5 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27224842]

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