What is Collagen?Your skin is made up of three layers, the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous layer. The epidermis is the top layer, that protects you from the weather and outside pathogens. The middle layer is the dermis, made up of a fibrous protein-collagen, that ensures skin retains elasticity, allowing you to move, bend and smile as well as keeps your skin firm and plump. While the third layer of the skin is the subcutaneous layer, made up of fat cells, this layer acts as protection for your organs and blood vessels and also acts an energy storage site, storing fat cells. Collagen is a naturally occurring structural protein in the human body, found in connective tissue such as skin, tendons and cartilage. One of the bodies main uses of collagen is skin and tissue elasticity, it ensures we maintain firm, plump, youthful looking skin and prevents drooping and sagging. Collagen also acts as a stress resistant material to the skin, preventing tears and deformation of the skin.
How can I ensure I’m nourishing my skin?The best foods for nourishing your skin and ensuring your skin stays youthful and plump are foods containing protein, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Protein containing foods are broken down into amino acids when digested, and then utilised by the body to make skin cells. Foods containing essential fatty acids help to keep skin plump and hydrated, reducing cracking and dryness, while antioxidant containing foods help to prevent free radical damage and fight the signs of aging.
What foods can I eat to ensure my skin stays looking healthy and youthful?Foods to nourish your skin
- Nuts and Seeds such as walnuts, almonds, pepitas and chia seeds , containing protein, essential fatty acids as well as minerals like zinc and magnesium.
- Omega 3 and protein containing fish. Sardines, mackerel, anchovies and sardines are a wonderful choice! A nutrition powerhouse!
- Eggs, Eggs contain protein, essential fatty acids, B12, iron, vitamin A, vitamin E and Vitamin D
- Berries and greens, foods such as berries, brightly coloured vegetables and leafy greens contain antioxidants, fighting free radical damage and signs of aging.
- Slow cooked meats, cooked with the bones contain skin loving protein and collagen as well as iron, B12 and other minerals.
What about Collagen Supplements?Collagen supplements are available in powder or capsule form and often contain other skin loving nutrients such as silica, zinc and vitamin C. Store bought collagen supplements are in two types-
- Marine Collagen, sourced from sustainable seafood
- Beef Gelatin/ Collagen, sourced from grass fed beef
What other Nutrients should I be looking out for to ensure youthful skin?
- Essential fatty acids, Essential fatty acids, consumed in the form of fish, nuts, seeds and avocado is important when looking after your skin. Essential fatty acids assist in the maintainence of skin integrity, protecting against fine lines and wrinkles as well as boosting collagen production and guarding against inflammation.
- Zinc,consumed in the form of pepitas, other nuts and seeds and oysters is found in high levels in the epidermis (top layer of your skin) and protects skin by acting as a defence mechanism. Zinc protects the skin from free radical damage as well as acting as an anti-inflammatory- reducing flare ups of acne and other inflammatory skin conditions.
- Silica,Silica is a trace mineral found in unrefined grains, fruits and vegetables and fish. Silica assists in the maintenance of connective tissue and ensures healthy and shiny hair, glowing skin and strong nails.
- Fischer, K. (2011). The healthy skin diet. Wollombi, N.S.W.: Exisle Publishing.
- Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association: July-August 2011 - Volume 3 - Issue 4 - p 203-213 doi: 10.1097/JDN.0b013e3182274a98
- Chu, D. H. (2008). Overview of biology, development, and structure of skin. In K. Wolff, L. A. Goldsmith, S. I. Katz, B. A. Gilchrest, A. S. Paller, & D. J. Leffell (Eds.), Fitzpatrick's dermatology in general medicine(7th ed., pp. 57-73). New York: McGraw-Hill.