Your skin is the largest organ of your body, with functions ranging protecting the organs to regulating body temperature. Your skin gets its strength and resilience from collagen and elastin, two important proteins that work together to give it its shape and texture. When the production of the proteins is impaired, your skin starts wrinkling and looking old. However, you can beat the aging procedure by eating enough collagen and elastin rich foods. Here are five essential nutrients that are necessary for building these two proteins.
Strawberries, limes and gooseberries: What do they have in common? They have an abundance of vitamin C, a nutrient essential for collagen biosynthesis. It is important for cross-linking collagen molecules and stimulating collagen gene expression.1 So include vitamin c rich fruits and vegetables in your diet to make your skin look ageless.
Oestrogen is a woman's best friend; it makes you look younger. That's because oestrogen increases collagen and elastin levels in your skin. Oestrogen deficiency in the body is manifested as dry, lifeless and wrinkled skin. To counter such a situation, eating a phytoestrogen-rich diet is important. Phytoestrogens like daidzein, genistein, formononetin, biochanin A, the coumestan coumestrol, and the lignans secoisolariciresinol and matairesinol are compounds that mimic oestrogen functions in the body. Foods like beans, soya, nuts, legumes, oats, barley, sesame seeds are teeming with these essential nutrients. If you are on the other side of thirty, eat a phytoestrogen-rich diet to keep ageing at bay.2
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Did you enjoy eating jelly as a child? It is made of a protein called gelatin, found in the bones and connective tissues of animals. Consuming gelatin can help supply collagen and elastin to your body, preventing any early formation of wrinkles.3 Gelatin rich foods include meat, bone broths, yoghurt and agar-agar.
Vitamin B is a family of eight vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin b6, biotin, folic acid and vitamin B12. Together, they help in the production of collagen in the human body. Studies have shown that those deficient in vitamins B2 and B6 have very low collagen content in the skin.4 So ensure you eat a diet rich in beans, peas, green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables for a steady supply of vitamin B.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant that acts against free radicals and protects skin against sun damage. In conjunction with vitamin C, vitamin E works to produce collagen reserves in the body. Some of the richest foods that contain vitamin E include nuts, spinach, whole grains, olive oil and sunflower oil. Topic application of the vitamin is also good for healing skin.5
For healthy, taut skin, your body has to mesh together both elastin and collagen. And the mineral that helps in doing that is copper. Copper is needed in the human body to increase the activity of the enzyme lysyl oxidase, which helps in the cross-linking of collagen and elastin.6 The mineral is found widely in foods such as organ meat, shellfish, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds and lentils.
1. Telang, P. S. (2013). Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatology Online Journal, 4(2), 143 146. http://doi.org/10.4103/2229-5178.110593
2.Thornton, M. J. (2013). Estrogens and aging skin. Dermato-Endocrinology, 5(2), 264 270. http://doi.org/10.4161/derm.23872
3. Liu D, Nikoo M, Boran G, Zhou P, Regenstein JM. Collagen and gelatin. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2015;6:527-57. doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-031414-111800. Epub 2015 Mar 23. Review. PubMed PMID: 25884286.
4. Prasad R, Lakshmi AV, Bamji MS. Impaired collagen maturity in vitamins B2 and B6 deficiency--probable molecular basis of skin lesions. Biochem Med. 1983 Dec;30(3):333-41. PubMed PMID: 6651795.
5. Keen, M. A., & Hassan, I. (2016). Vitamin E in dermatology. Indian Dermatology Online Journal, 7(4), 311 315. http://doi.org/10.4103/2229-5178.185494