You’ve probably heard the hype around collagen. And, more importantly, how our body needs it to stay youthful and supple. But, most supplements that contain this vital structural protein are very expensive, and mostly derived from fish or beef.
Fortunately, there is a vegan and plant based alternative for those who do not wish to consume animal products.
That is why we have comprised this collagen rich foods list that is 100% plant based, easy to source, and way less expensive than supplementation.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein found in abundance in all mammals (including humans) and it makes up between 25-35% of all protein found in the body. It is used to build connective tissue, healthy joints, skin elasticity and skin stretchiness. It’s found in the blood and bones, but is mostly comprised in the body’s skin.
The problem with collagen is it breaks down as we age, and it then becomes harder to for the body to produce more. Hence the reason why collagen is such a huge deal in the beauty industry, where it is added to expensive potions and creams to help stave off the aging process.
Do Collagen Creams Work?
The answer to this question is yes and no. Collagen added to a cream cannot penetrate the skin barrier to actually promote plumper more youthful skin or collagen synthesis. The product may indeed contain collagen, but what’s the point of it if it doesn’t penetrate right?
However, there is some good news for your daily moisturising cream. You can buy creams that contain products that help stimulate the growth of natural collagen, such as vitamin C, retinol and hydroxy acids. These are the ingredients you need to look out for when looking for effective topical products, NOT topical collagen.
But, that’s only half the story, and you need to do more than just buy a good moisturiser if you want long term anti ageing results.
Ways to Naturally Prevent Collagen Loss
You are losing roughly 1% of precious collagen yearly after the age of 21. By the time you’ve even hit your mid forties you’re already down by about a quarter, and that’s obviously depressing news for most of us.
However, there are natural ways you can help to combat this inevitable loss to minimise it and keep it under control. These include:-
Smoking and cigarette smoke contributes greatly to the breakdown of your skin’s collagen due to its toxic cocktail of over 7,000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are known to trigger and contribute to the breakdown of your precious collagen supplies.
This degradation of collagen through smoking (and even second hand smoke) can cause sagging, wrinkles, and premature aging of the skin. Therefore, giving up the ciggies is vital in the fight against aging; not to mention all the other nasty diseases that smoking can contribute to.
You may be surprised at the ways pollution can actually have a direct affect on your skin. Firstly, breathing in daily pollutants from a toxic environment can leave your body functioning under par. This can have a knock-on affect on your skin over time. And, as your body’s abilities to detoxify adequately becomes affected, this will show through in your skin.
But, another shocking fact of how pollution from exhaust fumes, industry, smog and dust affects skin is directly through the pores themselves. Some particles of pollution toxins and chemicals are actually small enough to penetrate the skin and cause inflammation and dehydration.
This inflammation and dehydration can affect collagen production, and cause patchy, dull, lifeless skin and premature wrinkles.
To help negate this, you can use special skin products and moisturisers with environmental protection.
ULTRA VIOLET RAYS
UV rays are another big ager for your skin that need to be avoided as much as possible if you want skin to stay plump and peachy. These rays come mostly from exposure to sunlight without any SPF protection cream, or from tanning beds.
In fact, tanning beds can give you a greater dose of ultra violet light than the typical midday sun in a hot and tropical country. So, be vary wary of this next time you want to go for that fake tan and instead use an organic tanning lotion to help protect your skin from damaging UV.
UV can affect your skin’s collagen due to it being able to penetrate deep into the dermis. This then damages the collagen fibers that can then cause the production of abnormal elastin. In turn, this leads to the degradation of collagen, thus leading to incorrectly rebuilt skin prone to wrinkles and that unsightly, leathery effect.
Stress can be a killer, and it’s not much better for your skin either!
When you’re stressed, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone can play havoc with skin’s collagen production, breaking it down and causing wrinkles.
Stress also causes inflammation that can cause skin aging and promote premature wrinkles. Therefore, negating stress with regular exercise, meditation, and other lifestyle and dietary changes is crucial if you want to stay looking your best in the skin department.
Here’s one you may not wish to hear, but true it is. Studies show that the consumption of caffeine reduces the newly synthesised collagen in your skin’s cells, leading to wrinkles, premature aging and sagging.
Another way that caffeine causes ageing is the fact it’s dehydrating. Dehydration causes toxic build-up, chronic inflammation, and also the loss of collagen.
To add to the mess, most people add sugar and dairy products to their coffee on top of the caffeine. Sugar is a known accelerator of telomere aging; and dairy can add to inflammation and also promote acne.
Therefore, even though coffee does contain lots of antioxidants that in theory should protect the skin, it doesn’t actually work this way. There’s question over how well those antioxidants are absorbed, along with the fact that it just isn’t enough to balance out the actual caffeine itself with the other potential coffee additions.
Lower Caffeine Options
You can opt for decaffeinated coffee and tea, but be aware that they still contain caffeine in much smaller doses. Only 97% of caffeine needs to be removed for a product to be legally labelled decaffeinated.
Other drinks that contain caffeine also include:-
- Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi Max
- Energy Water
- Most other energy drinks
- Certain drugs, both prescribed and over the counter
A great alternative to your usual coffee is green tea. It will give you a little hit of caffeine, but also contains the powerful, anti-aging compound EGCG, along with these other evidence based benefits.
Sugar and other refined carbohydrates are a huge ager that increases a process called glycation. Glycation increases the breakdown of collagen fibers, thus leading to faster aging skin.
High GI sugars also cause fierce inflammation in your body, due to sugar causing an insulin spike. This can have a knock on affect in skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea – all of which can make skin look less glowing and more aged.
Collagen Rich Foods List – All 100% Plant based
There are ways to help negate the effects of natural collagen reduction that’s due to the aging process. Firstly, you should eat lots of antioxidant rich foods, along with a nutritious plant based diet.
Secondly, you should eat lots of plant based foods that contain proteins that the body can break down into amino acids. These amino acids (proline, lycine and glycine being the 3 important ones for collagen synthesis) will help the body absorb the key anti aging nutrients it needs from food.
These nutrients include omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin A that are both needed for great skin. Foods rich in these amino acids and nutrients include:-
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
You should also eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and pulses that are known to help boost your skin’s collagen production. These include:-
- Colourful bell peppers
- A good array of all the berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, black currents)
- Pulses of all kinds
- Soy beans (tofu, tempeh, seitan)
- Tropical fruits (pineapple, mango, banana, passionfruit, guava, kiwi)
- All citrus fruits (grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes)
- Dark green, leafy greens and salad greens (Swiss chard, cabbage, spring greens, kale, spinach, rocket)
Vegan/Plant Based Collagen Supplements
If you cannot get enough of these delicious plant based foods into your diet, you could always try some of the amazing new plant based and vegan collagen supplements that are now widely available.
Gone are the days when collagen supplements could only be found derived from beef or fish. These days collagen supplements can be genetically engineered using the bacteria P. Pastoris. This also renders them a LOT cheaper than their expensive animal derived counterparts.
To make these next generation supplements, human genes are added to microbes (the yeast and bacteria), which then start producing the building blocks of human collagen. Clever stuff, and also totally natural with no side effects.
Getting enough collagen into your diet is a must for anti aging benefits. Eating the collagen rich foods on this list will help you to do just this, along with a healthy diet, exercise, and the lowering of stress, smoking, pollution, UV rays and sugary foods.
To be sure you’e eating enough of the above foods, why not check out ZestForever’s super EASY 4 Week Meal Plans with Recipes? These will teach you how to put delicious plant based meals together that incorporate all your collagen rich foods.
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