Which Foods Boost Collagen and Which Ones Damage It?

Advanced Dietary Supplements Advisor
Advanced Clinical Weight Loss Practitioner

For more than a decade, collagen has been in the spotlight and continues to gain mainstream interest. Being the most abundant protein in the body, it provides strength and structure to our skin, contributing to its youthful look.

Collagen is present throughout the body. But it can be found in higher amounts in our bones, skin, and connective tissues (like tendons and ligaments). The production of this protein diminishes with age along with other factors. This insoluble and fibrous protein is very strong yet flexible, hence its popularity.

What Does Collagen Do?

In the middle layer of the skin, also known as the dermis, this protein helps with the formation of fibroblasts where new skin cells can grow. This process also supports the replacement and restoration of dead skin cells. Since there are at least 16 different types of collagen, most of them belong to types 1, 2, and 3, protecting some body organs, including our skin.

A unique characteristic of the collagen protein is that it is resorbable. This means that it can be broken down and converted into gelatine. Then gelatine can be further broken down and absorbed back into the body. With this, it makes the protein very versatile, making it a subject of continuous investigation in the medical field.

For example, collagen is used as a key competent of skin fillers, often used in mainstream cosmetic procedures that are meant to remove wrinkles from the face and even scars. Collagen may also be used as a wound dressing. It has the ability to attract new skin cells to where the wound is, thus it promotes healing and provides a platform for new tissues to grow.

This multifunction protein is also used in periodontal and dental implant treatments because of its ability to prevent cells around the gum from getting into the wound in a tooth.

A scientific review also found that this protein may also help in the treatment of osteoarthritis as it aids the reduction of symptoms and at the same time it boosts joint function.

Of course, collagen is also very popular in the world of topical creams and cosmetics. In fact, there are now plenty of skin products that contain this protein and most of them claim to help revitalise the skin. However, there is no hardcore evidence on this matter yet, especially since the molecules in collagen are too big to be absorbed by the skin.

Collagen Damage

There are a number of factors that may contribute to collagen damage in your body such as:

• High sugar consumption
• Smoking
• UV rays from the sun
• Autoimmune disorders
• Genetic changes
• Ageing

In order to prevent this, boosting your body’s collagen production may help. Some individuals take supplements, whilst others prefer the natural route. And many opt for a mix of supplements and natural food sources.

Taking Collagen Supplements

Should you be taking collagen supplements? Research on collagen supplements remains limited. However, some studies have shown that these supplements may have a positive effect on individuals with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, whilst others show that it does help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Collagen type 2 may be safe when taken orally up to 2.5 mg daily for no longer than 24 weeks. On the other hand, hydrolysed collagen tends to have a different dosing strategy, with studies using 1 gram a day for 12 weeks showing an increase in skin collagen and a reduction of wrinkles. However, this supplement may not be suitable for everyone. Some of its side effects may include the following:

• Headaches
• Dizziness
• Liver complications
• Difficulty sleeping

Although there is no specific evidence on its effect on pregnant and breastfeeding women, it is advised not to take this supplement during this time period. Also, those who are allergic to chicken or egg must avoid this supplement.

Natural Food Sources

For those who prefer to go the natural route instead of taking collagen supplements, it is essential to know some of the nutrients that may help boost and maintain collagen in tissue:

• Vitamin C
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin E
• Proline
• Glycine
• Copper
• Zinc
• Anthocyanidins
• Flavonoids

Now, here are some of the foods that you can easily purchase to help reinforce natural collagen production and protection:

Fish - fish is known to be an excellent source of amino acids thus making it a great choice to support collagen production in the body
Avocado or avocado oil - avocado contains plant sterols and other phytochemical compounds which help protect the skin from free radicals; the hexane in avocados are also known to help with skin regeneration
Turkey - it contains the mineral zinc which is needed for the production of collagen in the body and it also essential for healing the skin
Dark chocolate – the flavonoids founds in cocoa have been associated with the slowing down of collagen-damaging photo-ageing, with some studies showing increased skin elasticity from the intake of cocoa flavonoids
Carrots – rich in the plant-form of vitamin A, beta-carotene, which the body converts into retinol aiding collagen synthesis
Leafy greens – they contain vitamin C and chlorophyll which provide antioxidant protection helping to preserve collagen structure and biosynthesis
Egg whites - a source of proline, a proteinogenic amino acid which makes up about 17% of collagen, supporting the health of the skin and joints
Tomatoes – they are a good source of vitamin C and lycopene, both being photo-protective, helping to reduce damage to collagen structures
Berries – they are a rich source of anthocyanidins and ellagic acid, two types of phytochemical compounds known to protect tissue from collagen breakdown and photo-ageing
Soy - its genistein content is thought to help reduce the decline of collagen content in the skin through preventing disturbances to collagen biosynthesis

Whether or not you’re thinking of taking collagen supplements, collagen is a very important protein in your body. Luckily, there are now several options that can help improve collagen production and preservation.

The good news is that we have plenty of food alternatives that can help in the production and protection of this ‘beauty’ protein. On the other hand, scientific research on collagen supplements is growing as fellow scientists investigate how they can benefit our skin and joints.

Choosing the supplements route may need the expertise of a Dietary Supplements Advisor trained by The Health Sciences Academy because it requires an assessment of each supplement before it is being put forward and an understanding on how to best take it, including awareness of side effects and toxicity levels to mitigate health risks.

Advanced Dietary Supplements Advisor
Advanced Clinical Weight Loss Practitioner

What If You Don’t Go To University

It’s August, which means it’s that time of the year again: A Level Results Day.

And whether it’s your friends or your grandma, there’s one question on everyone’s lips…

Are you going to university?

You might be heading back from college to the tune of ‘Did you get the grades?’

Or maybe you never wanted to go to uni in the first place.

Whichever boat you’re in; what happens when your friends are prepping for freshers’ week, but you’re not?

No fear – we’re here to help! The first thing you need to consider is:

Are you sure about your decision?

It’s difficult to aim for your goals if you don’t know what they are, or how to reach them. This means that if you have a particular career in mind, you might want to see a careers advisor or thoroughly research alternative routes into the field you’re passionate about before making a final decision.

But then what? Well, first, it’s important to know…

There are a ton of careers that don’t require a university degree

It’s true! You may have considered some of these options: hairdressing, beauty, personal training.

But those aren’t the only choices – many careers have a variety of pathways into them, from accountancy, to journalism, to nutritional therapy.

Read on to see what you can do instead of going to university:

Take a Gap Year

Fondly known as the ‘gap yah’ among millennials, many teens take a year out to decide what they want to do before continuing their education. This often takes the form of travelling, learning a language, and gaining lots of experience of different cultures – but it can also involve volunteering in a mix of industries to help you make a more informed decision about your future. While this kind of break provides a temporary solution, it’s common for people to head back to school once they complete their gap year, but many teens also open doors to careers they never knew existed!

(Pssst… Looking for the latest work experience opportunities? GoThinkBig is a good place to start).

Find an Apprenticeship

Becoming an apprentice is a great way to get straight into work AND gain a qualification while you earn. From farming, to hospitality, to law, you can choose your apprenticeship from a huge selection of fields and levels, from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) right through to Level 6/7 (degree equivalent). Depending on the level, an apprenticeship can take between 1 and 5 years to complete, but you’ll be learning loads of job-specific skills along the way.

If you’re in the UK, you can click here to find an apprenticeship.

Get an Entry-Level Job

While a large number of entry-level jobs will attract applications from students and recent graduates, many employers offer roles aimed at school-leavers – including training schemes. The obvious benefit of heading straight into work is that you’ll be earning right away.

A great way to find entry-level jobs is to keep an eye on websites that advertise vacancies in specific fields. Mediargh is a great example for media-related careers (publishing, science – whatever).

Become an Entrepreneur

Ever wanted to start your own business? Now might be your chance! This can be an exciting option for those not looking to go to university, but it’s wise to first consider the funding, support, and advice you’ll need along the way. If you’re in the UK, check out these government guidelines for new businesses.

For an extra boost when it comes to marketing your business effectively, check out Google’s Digital Garage for free digital marketing training.

Study for an Online Diploma

A huge barrier for many prospective students is the possibility of getting in over £50,000 of debt for a qualification in an area they’re not entirely sure about, or wasn’t necessary for their preferred career.

Whether you’re looking to boost your entrepreneurial endeavours, or you want to get a feel for a subject before jumping into a degree, an online diploma can be a great way to go! Loads of platforms offer you the chance to study via the web and many don’t require specialist technology, so you can get going with just a laptop and a cup of tea.

If it’s nutrition you’re into, we at The Health Sciences Academy® have a whole host of certifications and short courses for you to explore.

Nutrition not your thing? Not to worry – there are loads of other great providers out there. Check out Coursera and Lynda for an array of online courses on a variety of subjects.

They’re called options for a reason…

It’s important to remember that choosing to not go to university isn’t something that sets your career in a permanent direction. You may try one of the above and decide you want to go to uni after all! Perhaps you want some work experience, maybe you’re looking to boost your know-how before embarking on a degree, or you might even decide to do both an online course and an apprenticeship – the point is: the sky’s the limit.

What you’re doing this September doesn’t necessarily define the rest of your life, but it CAN boost it. Do what’s best for you and remember: it’s quite natural to need a little bit of extra time to work out where you want your career to go.

The Health Sciences Academy® is the UK’s largest online educator in nutrition science.

We are home to a variety of Level 5 online diplomas, in addition to a range of accredited short courses in nutrition topics – ready to help you ignite your career.

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