I knew there was something wrong when my cat categorically refused to drink the water. It was 2013, we’d just relocated to Los Feliz from Scotland and were trying to adapt to the very limiting climate of East LA. As a way to keep sane, I wrote a sci-fi script set in 2030 in a time when I imagined oxygen and light levels were diminishing in LA. All the rich were needing extra beauty products, injections of vitamins, Botox and oxygen tanks and all the poor were slaves in the desert. I registered it at WGA in the spring of that year but it’s already redundant. Turns out I was overshooting by a decade. And the cat died six months later.
So, in my script/realtimenow, I have found myself trialling any amount of collagen creams, supplements and juices. Women who I view as ‘babies’ are getting collagen plumping, Botox and fillers. We do start to lose collagen from the age of twenty but the signs don’t usually start to show till mid-30s. And when menopause hits, you lose a whopping extra third. The process of collagen loss is sped up by UV exposure, pollution, bad habits and poor diet choices. So it is no surprise that the demand for collagen-boosting is at a record high and likely to get much higher.
Collagen is not merely cosmetic. It’s one of the most vital substances in a body, the glue that gives your body definition and structure by binding tissues and cells. Ever wondered why your body shape is flopping even though you are working out more? It’s not necessarily your lack of willpower or exercise technique; it’s collagen loss.
As collagen production slows down, cell structures weaken. Skin gets thinner and sags, ligaments and joint stiffer. You suddenly pull a muscle over something that used to be no problem at all. Collagen makes over a third of all the proteins in the human body, especially muscles, skin, ligaments, tendons and bones. It’s what makes things firm, resilient, elastic. There are three types of collagen and, cosmetically, most are bothered about Type I and III. The type that affects your skin makes up 70% of dry skin mass. That means, take away the water and what is left is largely collagen.
It’s collagen fibres that create the infrastructure for elastin and hyaluronic acid. If your collagen is low, applying the best serum in the world and drinking all the water you like won’t stop the withered sag. Without collagen, the skin becomes thinner, drier and less elastic. Wrinkles are a result of lack of collagen.
It’s not just the skin that suffers. Bones become weaker, more brittle, joint cartilage wears out meaning it is genuinely harder to stay active. Muscles lose function which affects being mobile and balance. Loss of collagen also slows down your metabolism and leads to weight gain – even if your diet stays the same. Your teeth can become more sensitive or gum problems, tooth decay increases. The strength of blood vessel walls decreases leading to dry eyes, headaches, breathing problems and skin rashes.
The jury is still out. They may improve the appearance of your skin but, if you stop taking them, the effects disappear very quickly.
Veganism may be important for the planet but not good for collagen. To produce collagen, your body needs nutrients from high density protein rich food such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy and beans. Vegans can use soya products such as tempeh, tofu and nuts and seeds. Add to the protein vitamin C, zinc and copper as they help maximise its utilisation by the body.
Smoking and drinking accelerate collagen loss and dehydration. Quitting smoking allows your body to rebuild its collagen production. Make-up, cosmetic procedures and skincare play a vital part in how we feel and boosting skin health and appearance. But collagen and beauty is indeed more than skin-deep. Staying as active and healthy for as long as possible should be as much of a goal. It’s never too early to get real about your collagen levels.
The oxygen in our environment is decreasing rapidly due to the burning of fossil fuels, global warming and pollution. As a result, ageing and age-related diseases are happening to younger people. The final episode of The Kardashians showcased Kendal Jenner’s hyperbaric oxygen tent. Even without such a product placement, the HBOT market size is predicted to explode (hopefully safely!) over the next six years.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the kind of anti-ageing treatment that can help you start looking and feeling younger. Hyperbaric oxygen treatments can stimulate the growth of more collagen to help repair your skin and smooth out some of those wrinkles.
Ageing is characterised by a progressive loss of tissue integrity and functionality due to disrupted homeostasis (balance). Molecular oxygen is vital to maintain tissue functions, and aerobic species like ourselves have evolved a sophisticated sensing system to ensure proper oxygen supply and demand.
When there are changes in oxygen and oxygen-associated pathways, human health is impacted and different aspects of ageing or degeneration start. It’s this deregulation of oxygen availability which leads to disease and ageing. It also progressively degenerates the immune system leading to vulnerability to infectious diseases, blunted vaccination protection and susceptibility to inflammatory diseases.
And this degeneration due to lack of oxygen availability affects not just skin but our genes, fertility and disease. Excessive oxygen can also be damaging and cause disease; it’s all about getting the balance, the homeostasis, which our current toxic environment has disrupted.
Our ageing isn’t due to a ‘lack’ of oxygen per se but to a lack of the balance, the homeostasis between hydrogen and oxygen. We are largely made up of water so when this is thrown off-kilter by our toxic world and habits, it’s not just our own health that suffers but our genes. So, no, Kendal Jenner buying a hyperbaric oxygen tent is no more woo-woo than me buying a bike instead of having to pay for a subscription gym class.
Failing to get a £270 per hour HBOT session, forest bathing or green-immersion is just as good. It’s more intense than a walk in the park though.
I will post up some recipes on the Instagram which help with collagen absorption and, in due course, a comparison of the creams and skincare out there that genuinely delivers.