Collagen is the human body’s structural protein that plays a very important role among our body’s structural proteins. It has the function to connect, support and nourish tissues and organs and can renew itself forever, and contributes to the health and elasticity of tendons, bones, and skin.
Collagen and elastin: two fundamental proteins for the skin. The reason? They constitute its structure as if they formed a sort of “scaffolding” that holds the skin layers together (from the deepest dermis to the most superficial epidermis). In other words, collagen and elastin are responsible for the elasticity, density, and turgor of the skin, that is, characteristics of young skin.
Look under the microscope, collagen and elastin have the shape of fibers, similar to those that makeup very strong materials, such as steel. They are found in the extracellular matrix of the dermis and are produced by specific cells called fibroblasts.
Unfortunately, the production of collagen and elastin begins to decrease from the age of 20 gradually. And this can determine a loss of elasticity and tone of the skin. The tissues start to yield, changing the oval of the face and the appearance of the features.
Allied foods of collagen and elastin
The good news is that there are foods that can slow down the loss of collagen and elastin and stimulate their production.
1. Foods rich in Vitamin C
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, vitamin C is essential for collagen and elastin production. For this purpose, the recommended daily intake is between 75 and 90 mg, which is the amount obtained by eating an orange or a kiwi per day. Alternatively, you can fill up on Vitamin C by regularly adding red peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes to your menus.
2. Lysine based foods
Lysine is an amino acid present in large quantities in the collagen structure but which the body cannot synthesize. That is why it must be introduced mainly by nutrition or, in case of nutritional deficiencies, by supplementation. The recommended amount of lysine is between 2 and 3 grams per day. And you can easily reach it by eating fish (all species), meat (especially beef and pork), cheese, and nuts. If you prefer to avoid animal origin foods, you can opt for regular consumption of lentils, peas, or soy products, which are also rich in lysine.
3. The right minerals
Studies from the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University attest that a mineral salt essential for increasing collagen and elastin production is manganese. In this case, the recommended daily amount varies according to gender: men are recommended a daily intake of 2.3 mg; women, on the other hand, need 1.8 mg per day. Foods rich in manganese include pineapple, nuts, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and seaweed species.
Another “elasticizing” mineral is copper. Recent studies published in the scientific journal Current Chemical Biology have shown that the body needs a small daily amount of copper, i.e., 0.9 mg. This is enough to stimulate collagen and elastin production to make the skin more resistant and firm.
Where is copper found? The highest concentrations in many foods are present in meat, shellfish, nuts, and seeds (sunflower, flax, chia, sesame). Good amounts of copper are found in whole foods, such as bread and pasta. A little less is rich in fruits and vegetables, but on the other hand, nuts, legumes, and mushrooms are rich.
Let’s go through a list of 10 essential foods to be included in the diet to improve skin and joint health.
Tomato, a basic ingredient of the Mediterranean diet, is rich in Lycopene. This molecule is antioxidant, stimulates hyaluronic acid production, and protects the skin during sun exposure.
- GREEN TEA
Thanks to the high concentration of Catechins, green tea slows down the breakdown of collagen fibers.
Bluefish is one of the treasures of our seas. In addition to the low caloric intake, it is precious for the high concentration of omega 3 fatty acids. These are part of the “essential fatty acids,” so-called because they are not produced in our body but must necessarily be introduced with the diet. They perform many important actions, such as lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels. They also strengthen the cells, restoring the body and radiance to skin and hair.
- BONE BROTH
A food that is now popular in the diets of VIPs is bone broth. The secret of its success is quickly explained: by subjecting the bones (chicken and beef as a master) to boiling, we obtain the extraction of collagen, glycine, hyaluronic acid, mineral salts, and other precious elements that give the broth excellent properties, for the well-being of our entire body, and in particular of the skin.
- CITRUS FRUITS
Citrus (their season has just begun, so enjoy!) Such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits. It is a natural concentrate of Vitamin C . Vitamin C helps amino acids convert into collagen, especially in the skin.
Eggs in the past were unfairly considered fatty, heavy food that promoted the accumulation of cholesterol. Fortunately, today these beliefs have been resized, and eggs return to occupy the place they deserve on our tables. They contain many useful substances, including Vitamin A, proteins, mineral salts, copper, iron, and zinc, which preserve collagen and give structure to the skin.
As many will know, potatoes are an essential source of Selenium. By stimulating the production of Glutathione, it acts by destroying free radicals, protecting the collagen and elastin present in our body.
- DRIED FRUIT
Nuts are rich in antioxidants, such as the well-known vitamin E and essential fatty acids, all of which protect collagen and increase skin elasticity.
- OLIVE OIL
We should open a separate chapter for this fantastic food, such as the importance it assumes in our diet. We will limit ourselves to saying that it gives us hydrated and healthy skin, thanks to its content of unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants that maintain lipid balance.
Carrots, but generally all orange-colored vegetables, contain a high concentration of Vitamin A, which helps repair damaged cells.
With these foods, firm and supple skin on the face and body is guaranteed!