[By Lily Davies]
If your skin is looking a tad tired even after a good night’s shuteye, blame your complexion woes on the loss of collagen in your skin. Blame it on genetics; if your parents developed wrinkles at an early age, chances are you will, too. You can also blame it on all the relaxing days you spent in the sun, or on bad luck and stress.
According to skin experts, collagen exists naturally in your skin as a structural support. As you lose collagen throughout the aging process, your skin gets thinner, and wrinkles begin to set in. Furthermore, when collagen breaks down, your skin becomes weaker, and this can lead to sagging.
There are a number of ways to slow down or turn back the hands of time. Modern science has provided plenty of options that attempt to deal with the inevitable signs of aging. Many plastic surgeons and dermatologists, for instance, provide dermal filler injections made from hyaluronic acid or even collagen to replenish the lost stores in your skin. “My patients use dermal fillers to boost their skins’ collagen stores, plump up facial lines and to contour their faces,” explains Dr Chua Han Boon of The Sloane Clinic “One of the most popular procedures among younger patients is the baby drop fillers which corrects moderate deterioration in loss of tone and firmness of the skin”
But if you’re not comfortable with needles or plastic surgery, you might find natural solutions to smooth out and tighten up your skin. Here are some colourful collagen-boosting treats to set your skin on the right track.
Water-rich veggies like cucumber and celery have a high sulfur content and collagen can’t be produced if sulfur isn’t present. Also go for dark green vegetables like spinach and kale which are rich in Vitamin C and can rev up collagen production.
Fish like tuna and salmon are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Skin cells are surrounded by a fatty membrane that protects them. When the cells are healthy, they are able to support the structure of the skin. Orange coloured vegetables, like carrots and sweet potatoes, are rich in vitamin A, whic restores and regenerates damaged collagen.
Tomatoes, peppers and beets conain the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene also acts as a natural sun block, protecting the skin from damage while icreasing collagen levels. Blackberries and raspberries scavenge free radicals while simultaneously increasing collagen levels.
White tea may protect the structural proteins of the skin, specifically collagen. It’s believed to prevent enzyme activity that breaks down collagen, contributing to lines and wrinkles. Whether sourced from soy milk, cheese or tofu, soy contains genistein (plant hormones that serve as antioxidants), which prompts collagen production and helps to block enzymes, like MMPs, that can age the skin.