It’s the word that we are hearing almost everywhere… we are all clamoring for it, more of it… because “it” is the thing that is going to make us beautiful…right? It’s almost everywhere… we can drink it, take supplements loaded with it, use creams that boast to deliver it, get treatments to boost it… and even get it injected. What is it?? COLLAGEN! Oh yeah… collagen…bring it on! But…do we even know what it is and why we want it? … Other than, we see the craze and the buzz in the beauty industry… so, man, Oh man… we gotta get some of that collagen! I always laugh when there is a new “it” thing that people go nuts over…and will dole out any amount of money for, and they don’t really even know why. So, let’s discuss what collagen is and why it is important… and of course… how we can hang on to what we are blessed with. In my next post… we will discuss all of the different collagen products and treatments… and what they offer.
Collagen is a protein.
So, collagen is more than just a pretty face! Collagen is a protein that is naturally found in the body. In fact, it is the most abundant protein in our body. It holds the entire body together. That is how important collagen is! Collagen is found in the bones, muscles, tendons and also in our skin, where it connects to form the scaffolding for added structure and strength. There are many different types of collagen in the body. These thin, fibrous connected molecules are flexible and strong, and along with elastin, they are most commonly known for the role that they play in the skin, offering it elasticity. So… there is another buzz word…elasticity… which in total layman terms, is the skins ability to “bounce back” or “be elastic”.
With that… we all hear “beauty”… not “body”. I get it… at 52, I have been in collagen decline for 30 years! Whaaaaaaat?? Yep… it is true. So, let me stress, that collagen is extremely important for the structure of the body and its ability to function and keep us strong and mobile. But, for the sake of aesthetics, we will get back to collagen as it relates to skin. Let’s picture that baby… or actually, that 20 something, with that plump, firm, smooth, rosy colored skin… not to mention healthy, shiny hair, and naturally strong, clear, healthy nails. This age group would be called “collagen making machines”… and they don’t even know it…nor do many of them care! Well youngens… you better love the hell out of your collagen and treat it right… because like all good things… it doesn’t last forever… sorry!
Our body stops producing collagen in our mid to late 20’s.
The fact is that our body stops producing collagen in our mid to late 20’s. Then, around age 30, our collagen production begins a long unyielding decline. Nooooooo!… well, yes. Around that time, the first fine lines appear on our face. After age 30, our collagen level drops 1%-2% every year. By age 40, we have lost 10% to 20% of our collagen. By 50, we are down 20% to 40% … and I think you can do the math from here. This becomes visible, as the skin begins to sag, wrinkle and appear more thin, fragile, crepey and dry. These are just the facts. However… there are things that we can do during this decline to save every bit of collagen as is humanly possible… and by this, I mean things that we can actively do…not things that we have to purchase…
1. Wear sunscreen religiously!
The sun is the number one ager of the skin. It will literally break down that valuable elasticity, like nobody’s business… not to mention overall sun damage and the risk of skin cancer.
2. Limit alcohol…
Sorry, but it will dehydrate the skin, affect the mucous membrane, and pull the fluid out of the skin… not to mention the inflammation that it causes.
3. Don’t smoke…
I repeat… DO NOT SMOKE! If not for your looks… we want you to live without having to tote an oxygen tank around. Cigarette smoking contains carbon monoxide, which displaces the healthy oxygen in your skin… and nicotine, which reduces blood flow. It also depletes the skin’s nutrients, including Vitamin C…which, is your skin’s best defense to external, environmental damage. I hate to be so bold… but if you compare a 50 year old who drank and smoked their way through a few decades to one who didn’t… you would be looking at two different people… and we won’t even mention whether or not that person was a sun goddess.
4. You know how much I stress that you are what you eat…
Well, when it comes to collagen and a healthy body… including your skin… here is the broken record… you are what you eat. If you are eating processed, refined, packaged, sugar-filled, inflammatory foods, you are writing your own prescription for unhappy skin. This is where lifestyle really comes into play. The following foods are not only good for your overall well being… but they are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that are beyond healthy for your skin… and yes, they are collagen boosters or collagen-rich. (bone broth, wild salmon, leafy greens, citrus, eggs, berries, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, avocados, and garlic)
Collagen isn’t just a beauty thing.
It may sound trivial to some… but I can actually remember when I was younger, thinking that I was somewhat invincible, would always look young… and could not even imagine myself with wrinkles or the appearance of aging. I thought that my body would always operate on all cylinders, that my 30 something energy level and my 40 something strength was just a “forever given”. I would hear people older than me talk about aging and the physical changes, inside and out, that had become such a challenge. I thought that would never be me. I say this only because there are so many things that we can do in our younger years that are choices we can make to literally slow down the aging process and hang on to that fountain of youth, for just a little bit longer… and more importantly, maximize our overall health and well being. Don’t forget, collagen isn’t just a beauty thing… it is literally the glue that is holding your body together and allowing it to function. And… some of those choices just might allow us a little more of that glorious, desired collagen. Now that you know what collagen is and just how important it is for your body and your beauty, stay tuned to my next post as I discuss the myriad of supplements and treatments that are available… and my take on exactly what they may offer for you.