From The Straits Times    |

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Regardless of gender, there is almost nothing we wouldn’t do in the quest for younger, brighter and supple skin. Many believe that the key to timeless beauty is collagen – the main structural protein in the skin, which provides the structural ‘framework’ for our skin cells. However, everyone loses collagen as we age and this quickly manifests into ‘sagging’ appearances. 

So what strange collagen-boosting foods do we eat for beauty’s sake and are they really effectibve? We outline four of them.

1. Sheep placenta

Claim: As bizarre as it may sound, sheep placenta is believed to increase the level of collagen, protein and elastin. Many believe that the placenta and umbilical cord of mammals contain stem cells which have the ability to repair every type of cell in the body. It has been sought after by the wealthy and celebrities in hope to rejuvenate their skin tissue and restore a youthful lustre. Many cosmetic companies joined the bandwagon and have been selling dried sheep placenta extract in the form of capsules.

Verdict: There are no studies proving that sheep placenta helps in restoring youthful complexion. The best way to maintain a healthy complexion is through a well-balanced diet that includes all the essential vitamins and minerals, says Ms Bibi Chia, Principal Dietitian, Raffles Diabetes & Endocrine Centre.

2. Hashima

Claim: The Hasma or Hashima, is made from the uterine tubes of female frogs through a time-consuming process. The frogs are caught and dried and once dry enough, the fats surrounding their ovaries and oviducts are peeled and removed. Rich in hormones and lipids, the Chinese believe that eating this helps to reduce internal heat, detoxify, moisturise and stimulate skin cells to improve skin condition and provide beautifying effects.

Verdict: Physician Chew Hong Gian, Raffles Chinese Medicine, noted that Hashima is known to be nourishing for both the lung and kidney systems. The Chinese believe that it promotes metabolism and moisturises the skin, which explains the product’s increasing popularity in cosmetic care. 

3. Pig’s trotters

Claim: A dish commonly found during post-pregnancy confinement, the pig’s trotters are known to be rich in collagen. Pig’s trotters in sweet vinegar is one of the most popular dishes in China, especially during the cold and dry winter when the skin is dehydrated. Besides having great nutrition and taste, this dish is popular among women who believe that collagen-rich cartilages are able to nourish the complexion.

Verdict: Ms Chia added that while pig’s trotters may be rich in collagen, eating too much of it puts you at a higher risk with increased fats, cholesterol and sodium intake. Instead of consuming animal products that are high in saturated fats like pig’s trotters for collagen, one can consider having food sources that are high in Vitamin C as they help the body form collagen.

4. Bird’s Nest

Claim: Bird’s nest is one of the most lavish yet popular tonics in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is a delicacy in the form of nests built with the salivary secretions of swiftlets. Many believe that it is rich in collagen and proteins, and eating this will be beneficial for the complexion. It repairs the skin and tissues, provides long-term elasticity of the skin and strengthens the immune and respiratory systems. 

Verdict: Physician Chew explained that bird’s nest strengthens the lungs, stomach and kidneys. In TCM, bird’s nest is widely used across a range of respiratory conditions. It is also recommended where digestion and assimilation of food intake are poor due to body weakness. It is also prized for its beauty effects and deeply nourishes the skin, making it smooth and supple. 


Republished from Raffles Healthnews publication, Issue 04/2015, “The Collagen Craze”, pp. 21. Copyright 2015, with permission from Raffles Medical Group.