Worried about wrinkles, sagging skin, and face blotches? It’s a part of aging, a part of life. But all hope is not lost – in fact, you can actively slow the skin-aging process by encouraging one thing in your body to flourish: collagen.
Collagen is your body’s main structure for firm, resilient skin. It is the most prevalent protein in the human body, and forms most of its muscles and connective tissue. You begin life with an abundance of collagen; that’s why baby skin is so invitingly supple and soft. Once you hit menopause, though, collagen takes an exponential downward dive of around 30 percent during the first five years after your final menstrual period, followed by 2 percent annually thereafter.
But that’s just what happens when we age, you might think. Yes, live long enough, and you will get wrinkles. However, you still can influence the pace at which our skin ages. Although topical skincare is part of keeping your youthful looks, there’s much more for maintaining a youthful look. And it’s not about what you put on your body. Rather, it’s about what you put in your body. By implementing a few routine choices in nutrition and lifestyle, you can slow down the effects of aging on your skin. Sound enticing?
Here are four effective ways to improve your collagen and slow down skin aging:
- Be a protein pro. Since collagen is a protein itself, you can stimulate collagen production by eating, you guessed it, enough protein. This includes chicken, low-mercury fish, lean meats (ideally grass-fed), eggs, beans, quinoa, and whole organic soy foods. Aim for 70-90 grams of protein per day, or think of it this way: Eat an ample serving of protein at every meal.
- Maintain proper copper. Copper is an essential element for optimal collagen function, as well as for your skin and body overall. The current recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 2 mg/copper per day. Foods rich in copper are liver (including pâté), oysters, and sesame seeds. One tablespoon of pâté provides 0.5 mg of copper. Oysters vary – wild-caught contain up to 0.5 mg each. One tablespoon of sesame seeds has 0.4 mg of copper.
- Reap sleep benefits. I can’t say enough about getting a full night’s sleep for health benefits across the board. And collagen is replenished during your shut-eye hours. So if you lack sleep, you lack collagen, meaning your skin will likely age more quickly. It’s as simple as that.
- But before sleep… Speaking of bedtime, do you know what else encourages collagen growth? Good-old orgasm. (I understand if this comes as a surprise.) Stay tuned for more on that topic, but for now let’s just say,
go for it.
You do not have to passively succumb to the effects of aging on your skin. So wrinkles, beware! Rather, with a few intentional habits to improve collagen (and a nontoxic skincare regimen), you’ll see the difference in the mirror—and you’ll look healthier day to day.
 Di Lullo, G. A., et al. “Mapping the ligand-binding sites and disease-associated mutations on the most abundant protein in the human, type I collagen.” Journal of Biological Chemistry 277, no. 6 (2002): 4223-4231.
 Stevenson, S., et al. “Effect of estrogens on skin aging and the potential role of SERMs.” Clinical Interventions in Aging 2, no. 3 (2007): 283.
 Harris, E., et al. “Copper and the synthesis of elastin and collagen.” Ciba Foundation Symposium 79, (1980) 63-82.
 Axelsson, J., et al. “Beauty sleep: experimental study on the perceived health and attractiveness of sleep deprived people.” British Medical Journal 341, (2010): c6614.