Vegan collagen boost - What exactly is collagen, and why is it important? Can you promote collagen production? What to eat to boost collagen production? Here are the answers!
Eating only plant-based products is promoted by many because it's considered cruelty-free, more sustainable than mostly meat-based diets, and also, more or less healthy. But eating plants does not mean that you're all healthy and can sit back and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. In fact, there are nutrients and minerals that you need to look for, and also, you may have difficulty adapting a vegan source of collagen into your diet.
Smoothies on table. - Source: pixabay.com / Silvia; modified: Richárd Seres-Nagy; License: Pixabay License (Free for commercial use; No attribution required); License link: https://pixabay.com/service/license/; Link: https://pixabay.com/photos/smoothies-juice-fruits-fruit-ripe-2253430/
What exactly is collagen, and why is it important?
Collagen is found inside the connective tissues of humans and animals, which means that it can't be found in plants. On the other hand, eating collagen is important because it can promote the health of our nails, hair and skin. Also,
collagen is a kind of protein that can be found in most of our body tissues, and when we get older, our bodies are less and less capable of storing this protein.
Collagen in skin. - Source: pixabay.com / naturwohl-gesundheit; modified: Richárd Seres-Nagy; License: Pixabay License (Free for commercial use; No attribution required); License link: https://pixabay.com/service/license/; Link: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/fulminan-beautiful-skin-collagen-2336695/
This leads to many aversive effects, such as wrinkles, joint pain and more… So, as you can see, the lack of collagen can be a troublesome situation, but even if you're a vegan, you have some ways to avoid this unhealthy situation. The solution is to boost your own collagen production!
Vegan collagen boost - Can you promote collagen production?
First of all, eating animal collagen is not enough to provide one's stable collagen reserve, so even those who eat meat need to know about collagen production and ways to boost it.
Your body needs many nutrients to produce enough (and good quality) collagen, such as vitamin C, polysaccharides, zinc, amino acids, copper and silica. These can all be found in plant-based foods and products, so if you eat a healthy, balanced diet as a vegan, you will probably be fine. Yet, there are some foods that need to be eaten quite frequently to make sure your body has all the sources it needs to provide you with enough collagen.
Eating different kinds of plants is extremely important when you're a vegan, because most plants do not have whole proteins. Yet, when you eat the essential amino acids from different plants, you can get all that there is in sources that provide you with whole proteins. There are 9 essential amino acids that must be eaten, because our bodies are not capable of producing these nine amino acids.
Vitamin E and C also have important roles in collagen production, as they can both help in storing collagen and reducing the negative effects of oxidative stress in our bodies. Also, these vitamins help our bodies in creating the right structure while producing collagen.
Aloe vera is well-known for its benefits, and it can also help you in maintaining the health of your skin, hair and nails not only when you use it applied onto your skin/hair/nails, but also when you eat it. There are certain specific polysaccharides that can be found in this plant that promote the production of collagens. What more, aloe vera is shown to speed up the process of wound healing.
Also, there are some vegan supplements available which are usually made of bacteria or yeast, and provide the most important nutrients that you need to boost collagen production.
What to eat to boost collagen production?
Foods that contain vitamin C are highly advised with a vegan diet. Some great examples for this are berries, citruses, different kinds of peppers, tomatoes and rosehip.
Vegan food - Beans with peppers and tomatoes - Source: pixabay.com / RitaE; modified: Richárd Seres-Nagy; License: Pixabay License (Free for commercial use; No attribution required); License link: https://pixabay.com/service/license/; Link: https://pixabay.com/photos/beans-legumes-food-meatless-2335266/
Eating beans is also important, because they contain important amino acids, yet, you shouldn't only rely on beans to get all the amino acids that you need - other plant-based foods, such as rice, legumes (such as peas, nuts, seeds and grains) usually contain kinds of amino acids that aren't found in beans.
Green leafy vegetables also promote collagen production according to some studies, and they promote the health of your skin by reducing the oxidative stress in the body as well.
And finally, some good news to those who love French cuisine! Garlic is an excellent source of sulfur - a nutrient that also helps in producing collagen.
What about cooking? Can you replace gelatin?
Collagens are widely used in cuisine as well, thanks to their fantastic ability to form a stable consistency. Gelatin is one of the best-known collagen-based ingredients used in the kitchen, but even this widely used ingredient can be replaced with plant based products.
Agar-agar is made from algae, and it can form a jelly-like consistency that't very similar to that of the gelatin. Yet, when you use agar-agar, the food will usually be a little thicker, and will keep its consistency even at room-temperature, so you don't need to keep the food in the fridge. Also, it's not as heat-sensitive as gelatin is, so boiling won't cause any trouble - nor will adding acidic ingredients, such as some berries or citruses into your food.
Yet, agar-agar is not a source of collagen, but is a polymer made up of subunits of galactose, which is a simple sugar molecule.
So even though you can replace animal collagen with agar-agar while cooking, it will not provide your body with the same nutrients as gelatin - a collagen product made out of the skin and bones of animals, such as pork or beef - would do.