Collagen is a protein that serves as one of the main building blocks for your bones, skin, hair, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Your body naturally makes collagen, but this production decreases with age.
Because we lose collagen as we age, many are using collagen supplements as part of an anti-aging beauty regimen.
Ultraviolet light from the sun breaks down collagen, so it's important to wear sunscreen daily.
Eating foods high in antioxidants, like fruits and vegetables, can also prevent collagen breakdown.
There are a few reasons—some are in your control and others aren't.
1. UV Damage
Excessive sun exposure accelerates the skin ageing process. This is because ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes damage to DNA and molecules, which produces more pigment called Melanin being produced while the skin protects itself from the damages caused by radiation. UV radiation can cause Collagen to break down at a higher rate than normal ageing. It does this by penetrating the middle layer of skin (dermis), causing the abnormal buildup of elastin. When these elastins accumulate, enzymes are produced which inadvertently break down collagen levels. Continued exposure only speeds the process, leading to further wrinkling and sagging.
2. Natural Ageing Process
Collagen production starts to dip in most people's bodies from the time they're in their late teens or early 20’s and decreases about 1% a year. However, the exact age that this process starts is different for everyone.
3. Smoking Habits
The negative effects of tobacco have been well known, but what many people may not know is that smoking can damage the skin’s collagen, or result in slower Collagen production. While it is true that the repetitive puckering of the lips to draw in tobacco smoke can cause wrinkles around the mouth, the chemicals that tobacco smoke contains can cause irreparable collagen loss as well. When the skin comes into contact with cigarette smoke, it constricts the blood vessels and drastically reduces blood flow. As a result, collagen turns dry, brittle, and eventually dies. When large amounts of this protein are lost, wrinkles, dryness, and discoloured skin occurs.
4. Consuming Too Much Sugar
While it is well known that eating too much sugar can have a negative effect on body weight and cause medical problems such as type 2 diabetes, which must be treated with insulin, eating too much sugar can also damage Collagen. When sugar consumption increases, a process called glycation creates a by-product known as advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. While Glycation is a natural occurrence in the body, eating too much sugar increases the amount of AGEs molecules, which attach themselves to healthy Collagen, turning them brittle and dry. The more AGEs that are created by glycation, the more Collagen they damage. As a result, the skin contains Collagen that is more prone to damage and breakdown, and this can contribute to premature ageing. Changing to a low-sugar diet and replacing sugary drinks with water will assist in protecting healthy Collagen.
Skin, which is the largest organ of the body, is an organ that perceives stress. Repeated short term stress induces free radical production and decreases your antioxidant reserve. Chronic stress leads to chronic immune dysfunction and increased production of free radicals and DNA damage which are known to lead to skin ageing. Stress reduction helps slow the rate at which your skin ages and Collagen declines.
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