Our body is made up of one fourth collagen, which is found in every part of the body, from bones to ligaments, skin to muscles. It is elastic connective tissue that provides support and protection in our body, allowing us to move, stretch, bounce back and it even connects our tissue to our bones, like glue.
As we age, collagen is depleted and destroyed by viruses, free radicals, disease, low immunity, poor diet and nutrient deficiency, chronic inflammation and other health problems.
Two nutrients that build collagen are Lysine and Vitamin C and they work synergistically. Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning we must obtain it from food. It blocks the anchor sites in our connective tissue for collagen digesting enzymes. What does this mean? Enzymes and free radicals cannot attach to and destroy tissue without these anchor sites. If the anchor sites are blocked, your collagen is more protected from destruction. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and a precursor to collagen production. It helps to reduce inflammation which leads to free radical damage and premature aging. A deficiency in Vitamin C stops the production of collagen, leading to sagging, wrinkly skin, lowered immunity, and other health problems.
Consuming Lysine and Vitamin C-rich foods will help keep collagen destruction at bay, boost immunity and overall health. Here are 4 Lysine/Vitamin C-rich meals to include in your meal plan (you can substitute animal proteins with quinoa, fish, beans and nuts. Combine multiple plant-based sources to make a complete protein)
- Mixed greens (kale, spinach) salad with strawberries, squeeze of lemon, goat feta cheese and 1/2 roasted chicken breast
- Smoothie with 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 handful raspberries, 1 orange, 1 kiwi. Blend with ice.
- 1 baked acorn squash filled with ground turkey, diced tomato, 1/2 diced yellow pepper
- Baked wild salmon with 1 cup baked sweet potato, 1 cup roasted brussel sprouts with squeeze of lemon and balsamic vinegar
Foods rich in Lysine include animal proteins (turkey, chicken, beef, dairy, cheese, eggs), tofu, nuts (avoid nuts if suffering from HSV-1 due to arginine content which facilitates the virus)
Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, grapefruit, kiwi, bell peppers, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, squash
Sources and further reading:
Always consult your Health Care Practitioner prior to taking supplements or if you have a health concern.