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Collagen As We Age

Podcast Episode 16 transcript.

Listen to Apple, Spotify, and our website - or wherever you get your podcasts!

Today, I’m talking about Collagen and Ageing.

Collagen provides strength and elasticity to the skin. Research has identified around 28 types of collagen in the human body, grouped into five types. Collagen 1 makes up 90% of your body’s collagen. It is densely packed and provides structure to your skin, bone, tendons, and ligaments. We are mainly talking about Collagen 1 in this podcast because it relates to skin. 

Skin is the largest organ in the body, mainly collagen fibres and hyaluronic acid.

Proteins are long chains made up of smaller building blocks called amino acids. Collagen is a protein comprising three amino acids: glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. The body also needs the right amount of Vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese to build collagen.

We naturally start losing collagen between the ages of 18 and 29. After we hit 40, the human body loses around 1% a year. During the first five years of menopause, the skin loses about 30% collagen. After that, women lose about 2% collagen annually for at least 20 years.

As collagen is lost, our skin loses firmness and begins to sag. Jowls suddenly appear out of nowhere; permanent lines run from the tip of the nose to the corners of the mouth, together with permanent wrinkles. You may notice pouches under the eyes; pores might seem larger, and even the tip of the nose can dip! Isn’t ageing just lovely?

So, how can we preserve and build our collagen stores?

It would be ideal to start naturally banking your collagen from a young age—so young people take note! It is never too late for the rest of us to take action!

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Stay out of the sun - exposure to UVA is the leading cause of photoaging because it causes collagen in the skin to break down quicker than it should

  2. Quit smoking and reduce your alcohol intake

  3. Reduce the amount of sugar and processed food

  4. Drink more water - it will automatically plump the skin

  5. Eat a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, nuts and fruits with a moderate amount of seafood, meat, dairy and eggs

  6. Pay particular attention to foods rich in collagen building blocks or make collagen production faster. Here are some examples:

    1. Vitamin C - we all know it’s in citrus fruits, but it’s also found in strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli and potatoes

    2. Proline is found in mushrooms, cabbage, asparagus, peanuts, fish, egg whites and meat

    3. Glycine is found in meat, peanuts and granola

    4. Copper is found in shiitake mushrooms, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, tofu and dark chocolate

    5. Zinc is found in meat, beans, chickpeas, nuts, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and dairy products.

  7. Treat yourself to Regular Peels, Light Therapy, Laser treatment, and Microneedling. This can start in your 20s. If you’re older, make sure that the person treating you has experience with menopausal skin, which tends to be drier and thinner and needs to be treated differently from younger skin.

  8. Use retinol and peptide-rich skincare - again, choose skincare that is personalised to you. Skincare with active ingredients needs to be used with care. Please don’t just buy any retinol serum bottle without knowing how to use it. This can cause dryness and irritation - and happens so often that it also has a name: retinoid-induced dermatitis. So make sure you speak to someone who can tell you exactly how to use this skincare before they sell it to you.

  9. Hormone Replacement Therapy can reverse the effects of ageing on the skin and has been shown to increase hydration, elasticity, skin thickness, and the quality of collagen while reducing wrinkles.

  10. Supplements: Most collagen is extracted from animals. I’ll spare you the details as it’s not pretty, and recently, it was extracted from algae, which is excellent for vegans and vegetarians. There are loads of collagen supplements, all claiming to be the best. But, when we eat collagen-rich food or supplements, our digestive system breaks down the long protein chains into smaller amino acid-building blockers. There is no way for us to consciously direct those building blocks to go straight into our skin. The body decides to use those blocks wherever needed - from ligaments to bones to muscles. We also know that it usually takes 10-12 weeks for supplements or a change in nutrition to show any effect. So be weary of whoever tries to sell you a quick fix because it cannot happen with everything we’ve listed until now.

But people sometimes like a quick fix, which is why Botox and fillers have become more prevalent in recent years. 

I was against offering these treatments when we started our skin clinic, possibly because social media is currently promoting the misuse of these products. 

However, seeing these treatments expertly and elegantly administered by my healthcare colleagues has convinced me there is also a place for them. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a healthcare professional administer these treatments, and I fail to understand why anyone would want just anybody injecting their face. Using good quality skincare and good nutrition with these treatments, which could also include laser and light therapy, is essential, as everything will work together to build and maintain collagen in your skin.


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