By now, we have all heard about the numerous benefits of collagen. It’s the secret to youthful looking skin and hair, healthy joints and bones, and so much more.
Collagen is like the glue that holds things together. In fact, it is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It is part of the structure of our bones, cartilage, muscles, and skin and its purpose is to help our tissues be more elastic and rebound from stretching. Our bodies produce collagen naturally throughout our lifetime with the help of our skin’s fibroblasts, assuming the right ratio of amino acids and other nutrients are available through our diet.
Unfortunately, as we age, our body’s ability to make collagen decreases and as a result, aesthetic concerns like wrinkles and sagging skin can occur. These conditions can be exacerbated by stress, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices like sun exposure, smoking, and high-sugar diets. Luckily, the production of collagen can be improved in many ways like with the use of light and energy-based therapies like lasers, injectables, topical products, supplements, and even through the food that we eat—which is what we will explore in this article.
Below are eight foods that stimulate collagen production naturally.
1. Cirtus Fruits
Go ahead and squeeze that lemon (or lime, grapefruit, or orange) in your water because Vitamin C, which is found in abundance in citrus fruits not only helps with collagen production, it helps stabilize collagen due to its ability to provide antioxidant protection against free radicals and environmental stressors.
2. Bone Broth
Whether you make your own bone broth or buy it, bone broth is a great source of protein and collagen that is bioavailable for the body to use right away. The consumption of dietary collagen is quite important because it essentially mainlines collagen to the body’s cells.
Bone broth contains gelatin, which contains three key amino acids including glycine, proline, and glutamine. Glycine reduces inflammation in the body. Proline contributes to healthy collagen production in the skin and arteries, while also assisting the body in cushioning joints and healing cartilage. Glutamine aids muscle building, healthy brain function, and is vital for digestive and immune health.
Bone broth is readily available in stores and online and it is quite simple to make at home. All you need to do is boil animal bones in water so that the collagen is extracted from the connected tissue into the broth. The longer the bones are boiled, the more nutrient dense your collagen will be.
3. Leafy Greens
Like berries and citrus fruits, leafy greens are also full of Vitamin C—so grab a little extra arugula or spinach for your plate to reap the benefits of this addition to your diet.
Nuts contain high amounts of zine, which is an essential mineral that supports fibroblasts that create the collagen. It is a mineral that also helps fight oxidative stress and neutralizes free radicals. So go ahead and get nuts for nuts if you are looking for a delicious snack that helps collagen production.
If you like fruit, then berries offer another great source of Vitamin C, like citrus fruits. Berries like blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries also offer a variety of antioxidant benefits as well. Since one cup of blackberries can provide half of the daily amount of Vitamin C the body needs, it is easy to reap the numerous benefits these foods offer.
6. Egg Whites
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and eggs are chocked full of amino acids. Egg whites specifically have a decent amount of glycine and proline, which makes up collagen, in addition to proline that is necessary for collagen production.
Like eggs, beans offer a high amount of protein and amino acids that are necessary for collagen synthesis. The body combines amino acids from a variety of sources like eggs, beans, and meat to build collagen. So, if you like beans, here is another reason to consume more of them.
Thanks to their bones and ligaments, fish and shellfish are a great option for obtaining dietary collagen. In fact, one study found that seafood may be as good of a source of collagen as beef. Seafood is also a great source of fatty acids. Omega-3 specifically, helps to protect the fatty membrane around the skin cells that keeps them bouncy and full—meaning skin will look more youthful. Fish that are high in Omega-3 include tuna, salmon, and mackerel.
We make collagen throughout our entire lives, however as we age, we produce less of it. While there are many ways to increase collagen from outside sources—one of the easiest ways (and most natural) is to add specific foods to your diet, like the ones we covered above.