Are you looking for natural ways to prevent sun damage? Concerned about chemicals in sunscreens? Find out how to protect your skin with collagen!
How to Protect Your Skin With Collagen
What does eating bone broth have to do with your skin? How about collagen’s relationship to summer sun? To understand the connection, it’s important to consider the layers of the skin and the interaction of these with the UV rays of the sun.
Your skin is composed of the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, the dermis, directly beneath, and the hypodermis located beneath the outer and middle layers.
When UV light smashes into the epidermis most of the UV (95 % or more) is blocked. The remaining 5% (or less) is absorbed by the collagen that is located in the second layer, the dermis.
What exactly is collagen? Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body. Derived from the Greek word kólla, or glue, collagen keeps our bodies from falling apart – literally. Collagen makes up 15% of our dry weight.
People with weak collagen are at risk for more sports injuries as well as increased damage from the sun.
The problem is that collagen production begins to decline in our mid-20s and by the time we hit 40 our collagen levels have fallen up to 30%.
With less collagen, we are more susceptible to sunburn, which leads to inflammation. Inflammation signals the body to release metalloproteinases, enzymes that chew apart our collagen. This creates a cycle that makes us vulnerable not only to wrinkling but skin cancer and other degenerative conditions.
The bottom line? Collagen matters and even more so as we age.
Will eating collagen make a difference? In her book, Deep Nutrition, Dr. Catherine Shanahan addresses the unique benefits of bone stock, a natural supplier of glycosaminoglycans (a type of collagen).
“. . . Glucosamine can stimulate the growth of new, healthy collagen and help repair damaged joints. And collagen isn’t just in your joints; it’s in bone, and skin, and arteries, and hair, and just about everywhere in between. This means that glucosamine-rich broth is a kind of youth serum, capable of rejuvenating your body, no matter what your age.”
While homemade bone stock is great in the winter, it may not be so appealing in the summer.
Fortunately, hot soup is not the only way to eat your collagen. Homemade gelatin in combination with other liquids such as kombucha or fruit juice offers similar nutritional benefits but in a cold refreshing form.
Sources of collagen include:
(For homemade jello, stick with the non-hydrolyzed. Hydrolyzed gelatin powder does not thicken, but can be added to water or juices as another way to add collagen to your diet.)
Simply whisk together 2-3 tablespoons of gelatin with 2 cups liquid. Pour into molds or a shallow plate and refrigerate. Voila! You’re ready to eat your collagen!
Here are three of my favorite combinations. Each offers the added benefit of natural probiotics through fermentation.
1. Turmeric Gelatin. This makes use of a “turmeric bug”, a fermented version of turmeric. Turmeric is well known for its antioxidant benefit making this gelatin extra-healthy. View the recipe here.
2. Kombucha Gelatin. Combine 2 cups of either homemade or store bought kombucha with 2-3 tablespoons gelatin and refrigerate.
3. Coconut Lime Gelatin. Coconut water or coconut water kefir combine with freshly squeezed lime juice for this re-hydrating boost. I use more gelatin than normal for this combination to get it to gel.
Looking for safe sunscreen suggestions? Consider making your own! See Natural Sunscreen Recipe.