How to stimulate collagen production in skin

Tuesday, 21 May 2019


Is Collagen the key to skin ageing and elasticity?

Collagen is a protein that makes up a huge part of our bodies, acting as an important structural framework in most body tissues including joints, bone, connective tissue and skin.

The breakdown and loss of collagen is a central part of ageing. The skin is the most visible and obvious example of this as collagen makes up about 80% of the dry weight of skin and is essential for skin elasticity, integrity, firmness and hydration. Classic signs of skin ageing - the dreaded wrinkles, sagging, and loss of elasticity and plumpness - are largely due to collagen deterioration.

While gradual collagen decline is an inevitable process starting as early as our mid-20s, don’t panic. We do have the ability to slow this process through internal and external influences:

  1.       DIET: Eating a diet rich in collagen, collagen-promoting nutrients and antioxidants
  2.       LIFESTYLE: Controlling environmental and lifestyle factors that are known to damage collagen and lead to premature skin ageing.

How to boost collagen in your diet

Put simply, to make collagen we should eat collagen.

Collagen-containing foods provide us with the exact building blocks needed to make more collagen  - thus improving skin elasticity. Collagen is found in the joints, bone and skin of animals and fish. Lean meat or fish provide protein but are not a good source of collagen, and vegetarian diets do not provide any collagen.

Collagen is a tough protein substance that is not very digestible in its raw state. Slow cooking bones and joints is a good old-fashioned method that breaks down the collagen into gelatin, making a hearty bone broth or stew. However not everyone is keen on boiling up bones or fish heads, so a hydrolysed collagen supplement is another more convenient alternative.

Hydrolysed collagen is still naturally derived but has been broken down into small fragments called peptides. These are more easily digested and absorbed into the body and are ready to be used for collagen production. There is also research to suggest that these collagen peptides can stimulate collagen-producing cells to make more collagen.

Hydrolysed collagen often comes in powder form or in capsules or powder, making it very easy and convenient to include in your daily diet. Manuka Health Beauty Enhancer is a convenient daily supplement providing hydrolysed collagen peptides and essential nutrients for collagen production and antioxidant protection. 

As important as eating collagen-containing foods is, we also need to ensure we get essential nutrients and antioxidants necessary for skin health and collagen manufacture. Vitamin C and Zinc are particularly important for collagen production and skin repair, as well as antioxidant protection against both environmental and internal damage to the skin and other collagen-containing body tissues.

Lifestyle factors that impact our skin and lead to premature ageing

  • Prime culprits for premature ageing and dull-looking skin that are sugar and alcohol. Excessive intake of refined sugar and alcohol can lead to brittle, damaged collagen and inflammation which shows up as fragile dehydrated skin, wrinkles and discolouration.
  • Long term stress is another common health concern that impacts skin ageing by depleting Vitamin C, causing chronic inflammation and collagen weakness.
  • UV light exposure is a well-known enemy of youthful looking skin. While some exposure to sunlight is very important for physical and mental health, prolonged regular exposure to UV rays is sure to damage the collagen in our skin, cause excessive pigmentation and trigger inflammation. Just look at the inside of your arm or thigh vs the outside for a clear demonstration of how regular UV exposure causes skin ageing.
  • Smoking and pollution expose the skin to toxic chemicals, oxidative damage and inflammation both internally and externally. It’s now well known that smoking causes collagen damage and prematurely ages the skin, and environmental pollution is now also a very real concern for the health of our skin not to mention our overall health.

Our skin quickly reflects how we live and eat. While some factors are outside our control, we can easily have a positive impact on the health and appearance of our skin through diet and lifestyle changes.


** Article written with input from Manuka Health's in-house Naturopath: Kim Bulder. BHSc (CompMed), AdvDipHerbMed, AdvDipNat



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