The secret to aging gracefully — and as slowly as possible — is in eating all the right plants. Learn how to naturally reverse your body’s internal clock and how boost collagen production.
“I really wish I had more wrinkles”
Said no one ever.
Judging by the market for anti-aging products, at least 90% of magazine articles, and my own personal feelings about the subject, I think it’s safe to say very few people are in a rush to start aging. Everyone’s looking for the fountain of youth, that miracle product that will turn back the clock and make their skin look and feel like new…. what if I told you you already had it? Eyeroll you’re most certainly giving me aside, it’s true, we all contain the secret to younger looking skin. We just need to learn how to tend to it.
The same ingredient we see marketed to us across drugstore shelves is right there within us, making up at least 70% of our skin and around 25-35% of the rest of us. Collagen is responsible for our well-oiled joints, supple-looking skin and healthy, strong bones and, when it starts to wane, it’s responsible for what we see in the reverse. While I strongly believe in aging gracefully and naturally, I also believe in looking great (naturally) and doing everything we can to keep our bodies running at optimal capacity, which includes boosting those collagen stores. If you’re curious about collagen and how to increase it, today I’m diving into this oft misunderstood long-chain amino acid. Read on to get the scoop, then be sure to scroll to the bottom for a collagen-boosting juice recipe.
What is it? The most common protein in the human body, collagen is the glue that holds your body together. When we age, our bodies lose the ability to effectively produce collagen, which results in the wrinkles you see on your face and the stiff joints you feel in the morning (oh, that’s just me?). Our bodies consist of about 25-35% collagen, and our skin is 70% collagen… so that should put it into perspective… in order to keep ourselves looking and feeling young, we should be doing all we can to keep our body happily churning out collagen for years to come!
There are a variety of supplements available on the market — from grass-fed collagen peptides to plant-based boosters. But the most bio-available collagen booster of all is sitting in your farmers’ market: bright and bold vegetables, fruits and berries.
What are the benefits? Want younger-looking, more resilient skin? Time to load up on veggies and fruit! As if there weren’t already a million reasons to eat fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies, here’s one more: they’ll keep you looking young. Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and chard; bold red veggies like beets and peppers; and deeply-hued and bright fruits like dark berries and citrus, all aid in collagen production by keeping our bodies functioning properly and making them better able to utilize the collagen proteins. When our bodies are encouraged to make more collagen, we reap the rewards with increased skin elasticity, shorter healing times, healthy bones and joints, and more perfectly balanced hormones.
How do I increase it? As much as major beauty corporations would like us to believe, increasing collagen production isn’t quite as easy as using a topical product. Collagen molecules are too large for our skin to absorb, so that’s why people commonly ingest it in the form of grass-fed gelatin and collagen and plant-based collagen-boosting supplements, such as Inner Beauty Boost by Beauty Chef. Beyond choosing a supplement, there are a variety of ways to boost your body’s ability to produce collagen naturally:
- Eat plants, and lots of ’em! A varied, plant-based diet (but not necessarily vegan — this goes for omnivores and vegetarians too!) that consists of mostly plants and includes lots of antioxidant and Vitamin C-rich dark and vibrantly-hued veggies and fruits will boost your body’s ability to produce collagen by aiding in its production and encouraging the body to utilize it effectively.
- Eat those anthocyanidins! Anthocyanidins are the sugar-free cousins of sugar-containing anthocyanins, pigments found in most plants. Anthocyanidins are in high attendance in berries with dark skin, such as blackberries, blueberries and cherries, and other vegetables such as red cabbage. These bioflavonoids help strengthen the collagen fibres present in the body while encouraging the production of more collagen.
- Add a supplement. Consider adding a collagen supplement, such as collagen peptides if you’re an omnivore or an antioxidant-boosting elixir.
- Stay out of the sun. Avoid environmental stressors, like UV rays from the sun and pollutants, which have been shown to dry skin, decrease collagen production and increase the signs of aging.
- Just quit already. You’ve heard that cigarettes and sugar and diets containing highly-processed foods are bad for you in more ways than one, and here’s another reason to quit all three: each one has been shown to deplete our body’s ability to produce collagen, thereby making us age faster. Our wrinkles should be earned through years of laughter, smiling, poring over books, and concentrating on tasks that fulfill us, not through the end of a cigarette. Do your skin (and the rest of your body) a favor and ditch the pack — your entire body (and the bodies of those around you) will thank you for it.
1 medium beet (root or root + greens)
1 small cucumber
1 cup red cabbage
2 handfuls of spinach or kale
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Juice from 1/2 orange
Run all ingredients except lemon and orange through a juicer and collect in a large glass. Squeeze in lemon and orange juices and stir. Drink immediately for best nutrition. Enjoy!
Check out more Wellness Encyclopedia posts…