So commonplace is the word collagen in the growing beauty world that it needs little definition—it is the holy grail to healthy, ageless skin. But do we really know enough of this protein? For example, the protein (found in the body) affects not only our skin, but also our hair, nails, bones, cartilage, connective tissue; and it provides the three S’s—support, structure, and strength to our body.
It is only that our skin shows the first signs of our reducing collagen levels—which, like everything else, starts to deplete with age, in this case after 25.
Nutritionist and author of The Immunity Diet, Kavita Devgan, gives us the dos and don’ts to make sure that we work to maintain the collagen in our bodies with easy lifestyle and dietary incorporations.
What to avoid
Junk: This one we should have guessed! But keeping junk to the minimal is important. Also, include alcohol, caffeine and tobacco under this. “The reason is actually as simple as hydration in this case. A lot of these cause dehydration, which lead to a drop in collagen levels,” says Devgan.
Stress: Like everything else in life, stress, rather the lack of it is critical to maintaining good collagen levels. And there’s a scientific reason for it. “Stress promotes the production of the cortisol hormone, which hampers collagen production.” Trying any stress control activity that works for you is important.
Pollution and ultra-violet rays: Both of these cause premature ageing and counteract the effect of collagen and are best to protect yourself against, as much as you can.
What to include
If what to avoid are cues enough, you know what to include, so Devgan offers a list of dietary recommendations.
Water: “Hydration is key to collagen production. Drink the stipulated three to four litres of water.”
Foods that contain collagen: While there aren’t plenty, there are a few that have small amounts of collagen in them—like eggs, fish, and red meat. “And bone broth in the winters! There is nothing like a good bone broth in the winters.”
Foods that promote collagen production: Vitamin C and E are great additions for the collagen journey, and Devgan recommends all the foods that contain them, emphasizing on a daily dose of amla, nuts and seeds. Add spirulina to the mix for its many many healthy benefits.
The miracle that is green tea: “Yes, everyone is talking about it for weight loss, but green tea is great for promoting collagen production too with its stress reduction qualities. I cannot recommend a few cups a day enough!”
When asked about supplements, Devgan says a strict no. “It isn’t required when you can include natural collagen in your diet. I always recommend opting for natural food because it adds so much more to the body than concentrated supplements.”