Attention Needed To Aging Skin
The skin changes with age. From a firm, plump, and wrinkle-free younger skin, it becomes thinner, stops being smooth, loses fat, and no longer looks plump. In fact, the functional and structural deterioration of the skin is just one example of an age-related decline. And like other bodily changes that occur with age, aging skin needs special attention.
The Skin Basics
Keep this in mind: It’s never too late to start learning about the basics, but the earlier you start learning about the skin, the better! So let us talk about the skin.
The Skin: Young Versus Old
When we are young, the skin typically undergoes a process of renewal approximately every month. The epidermis — the superficial, or outer upper layers of the skin — constantly replace themselves.
Every twenty-eight days new cells replace the most superficial cells. This process of exfoliation or shedding of the epidermis is also known as the life cycle of the skin. It starts when the bottom layer moves up to the top layer.
What Happens to the Skin When We Age?
The skin cell turnover slows down
As we age, this process of shedding or skin cell turnover slows down. As a result, the dead skin cells (epidermis) builds up on our skin’s surface, which makes the skin look duller and less plump.
The blood flow to the outermost layer of the skin decreases
Besides the slower turnover of skin cells, the blood flow to the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis) through the capillaries in the middle layer (dermis) decreases.
This means that there are fewer nutrients that reach the epidermis, which is also one of the reasons why the epidermis becomes thin and the cell turnover slows down. In the long run, it reduces the protective function of the outermost layer of the skin and increased water loss, consequently leading to dry skin.
The production of collagen decreases
When we age, the production of collagen decreases including the skin’s ability to repair itself. As the collagen and elastin become less effective, wrinkles and fine lines start to appear and the skin loses its elasticity.
First thing’s first: Remember the word COLLAGEN
Collagen is a type of protein that is essential for maintaining the structure and providing the framework of the skin, as well as other cells and tissues in the body. People with younger skin have tightly packed collagen, while older ones have thin, loose bundles.
Collagen and Elastin for Framework and Flexibility
If collagen is essential for providing the framework and structure to skin, the one that is responsible for the skin’s flexibility is the elastin. Together, collagen and elastin maintain the health and hydration of the skin, creating that plumpness, brightness, or glow that we all desire.
Signs and Symptoms of Decreasing Collagen in the Body
Collagen constitutes approximately 30% of all the proteins within the body. It’s not just in the skin but also found within bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
So, what happens when we lose some of these collagen proteins in our bodies? Here are some signs and symptoms of collagen deficiency, all of which are likely to subject the body to certain conditions that some individuals have reported having a hard time living with.
Although collagen is only at about 1 - 10 % of muscle tissues, collagen is essential to keep the muscles strong and functioning properly. It also connects muscles to bones and ligaments for support. If there is a deficiency of collagen in the muscles, the collagen fibres weaken, resulting in a weak connection between these important structures. As a result, these parts suffer and sometimes it causes muscle aches and weakness.
Collagen makes up the skin’s connective tissues. As such, it is accountable for the cell renewal, elasticity, firmness, and suppleness of the skin.
As we age, the collagen stores slowly become depleted, causing the skin to eventually become less firm and more vulnerable to damage. It also grows thinner and when the fatty tissues beneath the layer of the skin push upwards, the skin starts to pucker and causes cellulite formation.
Darker and hollower area around the eyes
If you closely look at the face of a child, you are most likely to notice how full and smooth their face are in comparison to what you can see in adults. Loss of collagen due to ageing causes this change in how adults look. The cheeks may begin to thin and the area around the eyes appear hallow and darker.
Pain in the Joints
As we all previously talked about, collagen plays a key role in bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons—all of which are involved in joint function. When the collagen starts to deteriorate, the joints become affected. Together with other factors, such as excessive friction and inflammation in the joints can gradually cause joint pain and turn into arthritis.
Thinning of hair
Collagen can also be found in hair, skin, and nails. As a matter of fact, it is found in the space around the hair follicles or the outer layers of the hair shaft itself. The collagen, in general, plays a major role in keeping the function of the hair follicle, maintaining its health.
As the body produces more collagen, the layers surrounding the hair bulb re-grow thus giving support to the hair follicles as it enters the growth stage. This process maintains the ongoing cycle of hair growth. As a result, the hair lengthens and gives off the appearance of a shiny, fuller look.
When the amount of collagen in the hair decreases, the delivery process of nutrients slows down leading to a duller, flatter, and thinner hair.
In addition to that, since collagen is also responsible for fighting off harmful free radicals from the environment, including pollution and sun rays, its deficiency may result in hair damage. In time, it can hinder the growth of the hair, destroy its texture, and negatively impact its thickness.
When the collagen stores become depleted as we age, the skin loses its strength and firmness. As the skin structure suffers, it can lead to wrinkle formation.
Wrinkles can start showing up in the face as soon as in the late twenties. Some even earlier. If no measures or preventive solutions are taken to stop and reverse this process, the wrinkles can quickly appear in different areas of the body, which leads to the sagging of skin.
Attend to your Aging Skin
If you are searching for general tips and tricks on skin care for aging skin, keep this in mind: skincare is not a one-size-fits-all, and there is no single solution to retain all the youthful properties it once had. But, there is no need to worry, because there are different ways of keeping the skin happy and healthy.
How Can You Maintain and Boost Your Collagen Levels in the Body?
Whether you are in your 30s, 40s, or older, you should know how to keep your skin happy. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to maintain collagen levels and reduce or even prevent the problems caused by collagen deficiency.
Here are some tips to rebuild collagen:
Consider getting massage therapy.
Recently, studies have been shown that massage can stimulate collagen production. Yes, a simple massage can spur the production of collagen. It boosts blood circulation, consequently making the skin look healthier, youthful, and more refreshed.
As a matter of fact, one of the goals of anti aging facials is to stimulate collagen production by gently massaging the face.
What you eat significantly affects your overall health—including your skin health. Food high in sugar can lead to sagging skin and wrinkle formation. Leafy greens, garlic, and lentils, on the contrary, are believed to be good foods to consume for rebuilding collagen naturally. Diet high in vitamin C such as broccoli, kiwis, oranges, and other citrus fruits also helps the body to boost collagen while simultaneously preventing damage from oxidative stress caused by harmful free radicals in the body. Research has also shown that high sugar consumption can cause collagen deficiency as glucose has been traced to the break down of collagen. So, keep an eye on what you eat and what you don’t.
The best source of collagen
Here is a quick overview of some of the foods that can help the body to produce collagen:
Beans are rich in protein. They contain amino acids that are necessary for the production of collagen. One particularly good option for vegetarians, vegans, and those who avoid animal products, is garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas.
Bone broth is a rich source of gelatin that may break down into collagen after consumption. Plus, it also contains calcium, chondroitin, glucosamine, magnesium, phosphorus, other essential amino acids, and many other nutrients.
Chicken neck and cartilage
Have you ever tried cutting or preparing a whole chicken? If so, you have probably noticed how much connective tissues a chicken contains. These tissues, including the cartilages, make the chicken a good source of collagen. As a matter of fact, most collagen supplements are derived and prepared from chicken since it contains ample amounts of this essential protein.
Egg whites are one of the best sources of collagen. Although they do not have connective tissues like their mommy chicken or any other animal products, the egg whites do contain large amounts of proline, a proteinogenic amino acid that is necessary for collagen production.
Fish and shellfish
If you are looking for another natural collagen booster, add fish and shellfish on your list. Like chicken, their bones, connective tissues, and ligaments are made up of collagen. Some people even claim that collagen from marine life (marine collagen) is the type of collagen that gets easily absorbed.
Stay away from smoking.
Yes, here’s another reason to quit smoking: it is bad for the skin! Not only are cigarettes harming the lungs, but they are also making the skin dull, ageing the face, and causing a blotchy skin tone. One reason is that there is less oxygenated blood that reaches the skin and fewer nutrients that keep the skin healthy and bright. Another reason is that smoking eats away the collagen and other proteins in the skin leaving it looking dry, coarse, wrinkled, and dull in appearance than it would otherwise. So, kick your smoking habit to avoid getting a smoker’s face, accelerated ageing look.
Take Collagen Supplements.
One way to replace decreasing collagen stores is by taking collagen supplements. However, it is important to take them with your primary physician’s approval or under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
Increase your Vitamin C Intake
Our skin contains high concentrations of vitamin C. In fact, it is vital for the synthesis of hyaluronic acid. Research says that hyaluronic acid is a key molecule in skin aging. It has been touted for its unique capacity in retaining water, thus keeping the skin moist and healthy. Some say that it also speeds up recovery time and relieves painful joints. In fact, without enough levels of vitamin C, the body will not receive the full benefit of foods that have hyaluronic acid. In another study, researchers found evidence that hyaluronic acid is vital in boosting the production of collagen in the human body.
However, it is known that hyaluronic acid decreases as we age. So it is important to eat foods high in vitamin C and amino acids to increase the production and release of hyaluronic acid and collagen. There are also supplements that can be purchased to keep hyaluronic acid at adequate levels.
Want to boost collagen production? Then eat foods rich in vitamin C. These include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, oranges, red peppers, and strawberries. Concentrated hyaluronic acid can be purchased at the drugstore.
Busting the Myths About Collagen
Collagen has become a big word when it comes to skin and aging. And because of that, several theories and myths about collagen started spreading.
Myth: You can increase your collagen levels by applying products containing collagen directly to your skin.
One of the popular myths about boosting collagen levels in the body is by applying collagen directly to the skin. Because of this, people believed for many years that body creams, moisturizers, facial wash, medicated ointments, and lotions can boost collagen levels. But, in truth, the molecules of collagen are too big to pass through the lower layers of the skin, which means that applying them into the skin are of no real use.
Myth: Adding collagen proteins to everyday morning cups of coffee can increase collagen levels.
Another myth relating to collagen is the practice of adding collagen proteins or peptides to everyday morning cups of coffee, so it works like a dietary supplement. However, research shows that caffeine actually has a negative effect on the biosynthesis or production of collagen on aging skin. This could mean that it may not provide additional benefits.
Myth: Collagen is only good for the skin.
Collagen’s role for skin health is just the tip of the iceberg. It is not true that collagen is only good for the skin. Several studies have shown that collagen can also provide assistance for many different health concerns and support various systems of the body.
Collagen also helps:
- Joints to remain healthy
- Improve the bone mineral density
- Speed up recovery from injuries.
- Reduce bone degradation.
- Increase energy levels.
- Improve physical performance.
- Increase calcium absorption in the gut.
- Support cardiovascular health by preventing arterial stiffness.
- Prevent high blood pressure.
- Provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Improve overall well being.
Myth: You only need collagen to maintain a healthy skin.
Yes, collagen is responsible for maintaining a healthy glowing skin. And as the levels of this protein reduce further with ageing, collagen replacement is crucial. However, other vitamins for collagen and elastin production should also be considered.
Not getting enough vitamin C is critical for collagen production since Vitamin C has a significant role in the production of pro-collagen, which is our body's precursor to collagen. Antioxidants, as well as peptides, are also necessary because they can help promote collagen stores and restore elastin.
Beauty is not just skin deep
Although a plump, healthy, glowing skin is highly valued in all parts of the world, remember that beauty is not just skin deep. A healthy skin is a perfect indicator of how the rest of the body is experiencing.
Currently, several studies are on the way to find out how we can at least slow, if not reverse, the signs and symptoms of aging. And while we wait for the great minds in dermatology and skin specialists to develop techniques to keep the skin healthy, we must take notice of the attention needed to aging skin. It is much easier to protect and care for the skin while it is healthy than to have a go at it when it is too late later on.
Prevention techniques such as boosting the collagen levels naturally improve and maintains not only the outward appearance but the rest of the body’s health.
The Bottom Line
While many case studies and research have proven the many benefits of collagen to the human body, especially on the aging skin, additional research is warranted to provide specific details on how collagen affects the body.
And, if you want to keep your skin healthy or at least, slow down the signs and symptoms of the aging process, it wouldn’t hurt to take collagen, especially if you have low protein stores in the body. For starters, you can start taking collagen supplements to improve your skin health, reducing dryness and wrinkle formation.
We know that many food groups offer collagen and collagen precursors, but you can save time and effort by taking supplements. They are quite easy to use and current studies say that they may aid in maintaining enough collagen levels in the body than just getting from food alone.
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