HOW EATING MORE COLLAGEN COULD BENEFIT YOU!
Eating collagen... Wait. What?
You may be thinking "isn't collagen that stuff some people inject into their lips to make them plump?"
And... Well... Technically, yes.
But, collagen is a whole lot more than just a lip plumper.
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in mammals, making up for 25 to 35% of the whole-body protein content.
We are all comprised of collagen. Our tendons, ligaments, joints, bones and skin, even our organs, teeth and eyes all have this essential protein in them.
Our body contains different types of collagen, and it has many different, essential functions, including, giving our body its structure and strength, and also elasticity to our skin.
When we're young, our body naturally produces collagen. However, from our twenties and beyond, our collagen production slows, and our cell structures weaken.
Some of the visible signs of slowing collagen production include skin losing its firmness, wrinkles, muscle loss and weakening joints (cartilage).
HOW TO IMPROVE COLLAGEN PRODUCTION
Eating more collagen has been shown to help aid collagen production, leading to many health benefits.
The most collagen filled foods we can eat are our animal proteins.
However, eating the more popular cuts of meat is not going to assist you adequately in getting more collagen in your diet.
In past times, more boney cuts (or gelatinous cuts) of meat, rich in collagen was consumed. Every part of the animal, not just the muscle meat, was used. With none wasted.
Nowadays, we are much pickier about our eating habits, because we can be.
Consumption of collagen-rich meat has decreased in favour of other, more popular and accessible cuts. That being the muscle meat.
We are eating less of the boney cuts, we usually steer clear of organ meats, and most of us don't eat the chewy, fattier parts which contain many healthy nutrients.
The favoured cuts, our muscle meat (I.E. chicken breasts, thighs, sirloins, rumps, eye fillets, etc.), lack the collagen and certain amino acids necessary for our health.
Gelatinous (boney) cuts, on the other hand, contain these amino acids found in the collagen. More specifically, glycine, alanine, proline and hydroxyproline.
These four amino acids all play an important role in our body:
Glycine is vital to our health, well-being and also in the prevention of diseases and disorders. 
Alanine serves as a great source of energy for both our muscles and nervous system. It increases the endurance of our muscles, increases exercise capacity and decreases fatigue. 
Proline and Hydroxyproline aids in the structure and creation of protein in our body, aids wound healing, aids in antioxidant reactions and assists our immune responses. 
Getting more collagen (and these amino acids) brings many health benefits.
THE BENEFITS OF EATING COLLAGEN FOR SENIORS
STRONGER BONES AND HEALTHY JOINTS!
Many studies have concluded that increased collagen in diets has a positive therapeutic effect in osteoporosis, osteoarthritis & joint pain.
Our bones and joints are reliant on collagen for their strength, structure and proper function. (4)
As we age and collagen production slows, bone density decreases, and so does the quality of the cartilage in our joints.
Collagen has been shown to increase bone mineral density. (5).
One study in particular by the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, links calcium and collagen to a reduced risk of bone loss in osteopenic, postmenopausal women, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis.
Another study on collagen supplementation in 131 women (average age 63 years) was "associated with a favourable shift in bone markers, indicating increased bone formation and reduced bone degradation."
Other studies link collagen to decreased joint pain and decreased osteoarthritis symptoms, helping to improve the quality of life of sufferers.
One study, in particular, concluded that collagen supplementation "can be considered a potential complement to current osteoarthritis therapies."
FOR YOUR MUSCLES - STRONGER MUSCLES AND IMPROVED FITNESS!
As we age, the strength and size of our muscles decrease — a condition known as sarcopenia.
Performing resistance (strength) training along with consuming adequate, quality protein can help reverse sarcopenia.
A study of 27, sarcopenic, older men who supplemented with collagen and completed resistance training (three days a week, for 12 weeks), had a more pronounced improvement of body composition, compared to those who didn't supplement. An increase in muscle mass, strength and a decrease in fat mass were seen in the collagen supplementation group.
FOR YOUR SKIN - FEWER WRINKLES, FIRMER SKIN!
Further to the beneficial effects of collagen in our muscles, joints and bones, collagen can also benefit our skin.
Collagen is abundant in our skin, and it is what gives the elasticity and firmness to it.
As our collagen production decreases with age, our skin becomes less firm, and wrinkles start to develop.
While consuming collagen won't turn back the clock, it has undoubtedly been shown to aid in improving skin quality, helping you to maintain a smooth and silky complexion throughout the years.
Multiple studies have shown consuming collagen, in supplementary or natural form, can decrease skin aging - improving skin elasticity, reducing wrinkles and may also help in keeping your skin hydrated. [8, 9, 10, 11]
FOR YOUR SLEEP - GET RESTFUL SLEEP!
If you have trouble sleeping or insomnia, you may find comfort in none other than a cup of healthy, collagen-filled bone broth before bed!
Glycine, an amino acid abundant in collagen, is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which helps regulate mood and promotes restful sleep.
A Japanese study shows that taking glycine before bed has positive effects on sleep quality. This study also found that glycine improved performance of memory recognition tasks and decreased sleepiness during the day.
FOR YOUR GRANDCHILDREN - SUPPORTS CHILDREN'S DEVELOPMENT
I'm sure you want all your grandchildren to grow up as healthy and robust as they can be. And, I'm sure when you were younger, you ate many collagen-rich foods, maybe even offal, which many of my patients tell me they ate (and still do).
Collagen has enormous benefits for growing bodies.
Gelatinous cuts of meat (such as chicken drumsticks or a nice cup of traditional soup) have plenty of protein in collagen form (not to mention healthy fats and other vitamins and minerals).
The nutrients help support the development of a growing child's tissues and organs and support other essential biological processes.
HOW TO GET MORE COLLAGEN IN YOUR DIET
So, I think by now you can see how beneficial getting more collagen in your diet can be. Let's look at how you can do this.
Here are some ways to get more collagen into your diet:
IN YOUR FOOD -
EAT GELATINOUS CUTS OF MEAT
These are the bonier cuts of meat, not the muscle meat.
Collagen-rich meat include beef cheeks, ribs, lamb necks, lamb shanks, Osso Bucco, chicken drumsticks, pork chops, pork skin, chicken feet, and oxtail.
DRINK BONE BROTHS AND SOUPS
The great thing about bone broth is that many healthy types are becoming readily available in stores.
I'm sure you may even know a good chicken soup, maybe even a fish head soup recipe, you can make! Why not cook that for a nice bowl of health.
If you're not much of a cook, you can also supplement with certain products to get more in your diet.
Supplements such as Collagen Hydrolysate is another way to increase your collagen intake. By doing this, you will get the combination of important amino acids which help maintain a healthy body.
The best thing about collagen hydrolysate is that it is flavourless, colourless and easily dissolves, making it easy to add into your smoothies.
Gelatin is the cooked form of collagen. It is similar to the supplement I mentioned above, only gelatin does not dissolve, making the liquid thicker.
Gelatin can be used to get more collagen into your diet, by making fruit jelly (jello), healthy fruit gummies or thickening up smoothies or curries.
Although collagen supplementation has been proven to be effective and safe , If possible, always try to introduce more collagen naturally through your food, rather than in supplement form. This way, it is more effective, and you get more of the nutrients.
Also, keep in mind that you should never take any supplements before consulting with your doctor.
A COLLAGEN FILLED RECIPE - BONE BROTH
Bone Broth is one of my favourite ways to get more collagen in my diet and many other vitamins and minerals.
You can make bone broth easily on your own! It can be made using a slow cooker, but it's pretty simple to make by simmering a pot on the stove as well. Depending on your preferences, you can use beef, chicken or fish bones to make a homemade bone broth.
If possible, try to get ahold of organic bones from your local farmers. Pasture-raised/grass-fed meats are the healthiest option. They contain more vitamins and minerals without any harmful chemicals or toxins. The same goes for all other produce as well - meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables etc.
Back when I used to work in the aboriginal communities here in Australia, Kangaroo Tail Soup was a favourite to the locals and a way to get more collagen.
Calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc are just some of the many minerals found in bones. The combination of these minerals are highly nutritious and promote plenty of health benefits both for your body and the mind.
Here is a HEALTHY BONE BROTH RECIPE for you!
Do you cook with gelatinous cuts of meat? What's your favourite lamb shank or soup recipe?