No matter how old you are, chances are the #1 way others perceive your age is through the largest organ on your body: skin.
But the extent of showing natural signs of aging is not totally up to fate. In fact, lifestyle factors have a lot of say in the matter.
Stress levels and food choices affect how our genes express themselves. That may sound scary, but it’s actually great news. It means we have significant control over a topic that’s gaining steam in wellness and beauty circles: the accelerated breakdown of collagen.
But first … why is collagen so important when it comes to appearance and skin health? Collagen is actually the most abundant protein in the human body. Seventy percent of skin, hair and nails and nearly 100 percent of connective tissues are collagen. It literally holds you together: from the hairs on your head to every inch of your skin, to your joint comfort and mobility. It even impacts the overall health of your gut including gut integrity.
But here’s the problem…
As we age, our bodies’ natural production of collagen slows dramatically. Over 25? You’re probably losing collagen.
And as collagen levels lower in the body, skin typically starts “looking older,” with less elasticity, vibrancy and hydration. Creaky joints and gut disturbances can also set it. Dropping collagen levels could even mean thinner hair and brittle nails.
- The typical woman can expect to lose about 1 to 2 percent of her body’s collagen every year
- This loss typically begins in the mid-30s
- This rate increases as a person hits 40, 50 and beyond
- By the time a woman reaches 40 years old, she will likely have lost 10 to 20 percent of her total collagen
- A woman in her 50s will have significantly less collagen available than she did in her teens, 20s or 30s
- Collagen production in an 80-year-old is up to 75 percent less than someone 30 or younger
This decrease in collagen can result in less mobility, muscle mass, muscle performance and skin health.
But it’s not just the natural aging process robbing us of our collagen … there are other “thieves” hiding out as modern-day hazards…
10 Surprising Collagen Killers
- Poor sleep
- Excess sugar consumption
- Injuries and unhealthy joints
- High cortisol from emotional stress
- Sun overexposure
- Diet low in antioxidants
- Sitting all day and lack of activity
- Poor gut health
- Nutrient shortfalls of vitamin C and zinc
- Free radicals
Thankfully, natural collagen boosters exist.
The Top 5 Collagen Boosters
- (preferably simmered for 48 hours with bones, along with tendons and ligaments for the most collagen)
- Adaptogenic herbs, including Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Ginseng and Fo-Ti
- Vitamin C-rich foods including kiwi, citrus, camu camu, broccoli, bell peppers and kale.
- Sulfur-rich foods including garlic, onions, egg yolks and cruciferous vegetables
- Antioxidant-rich herbs, spices and foods including turmeric, rosemary, green tea, acai and goji berries
All of the above are great collagen boosters, but I believe none of them compare to the greatest collagen booster in the world: collagen itself that comes from food sources like chicken broth, beef broth, wild fish broth and eggshell membranes.