Dr. Kristen Mitteness
6 Ways to Eat More Collagen
Updated: Nov 15, 2022
By now you've probably heard someone talking about how important collagen is. Although I knew it was important and ate it occasionally, it wasn't until my pregnancy that I really tried to get it in my diet more intentionally.
Collagen and gelatin have similar properties, they are simply used differently. In nature, they are found together, like in bone broth, slow cooked meats and headcheese. As supplements, you'll often find them separated. They both contain the amino acid glycine. Glycine is considered a conditionally essential nutrient, meaning your body can make it, to some extent, from other amino acids. The condition in which you need more of it? Pregnancy. We require more of these amino acids (in addition to all other amino acids) during pregnancy. Read all about it from Lily Nichols here.
Your baby requires glycine to build its joints, skin and more. By eating these foods, you will be providing enough of the building blocks to effectively and efficiently build a beautiful baby. But, it's also to build and maintain your body! Your uterus, skin and breasts are growing and will grow more effectively with glycine. It might even help with stretch marks. It can also be helpful in reducing the body's oxidative stress, which can lead to improvements in blood pressure and blood sugar levels. There are so many benefits of having collagen in your diet. Give it a try and see for yourself! These are my 6 favorite ways to get it in my diet.
Bone Broth - I tell everyone about bone broth. I try to get it in my diet every day in some capacity. Sometimes it's soup, sometimes it's rice, sometimes I just drink it like coffee (I really like it with a bit of coconut milk and green curry paste). It's super easy to make. Here's my recipe. I typically use a combination of chicken soup bones and beef soup bones. Most local farmers or butcher shops carry them.
Slow cooked meat - The reason we slow cook meat is to break down the tough, collagen joints to make it easier to meat. That stuff is obviously loaded with both collagen and gelatin. The process of cooking it slow breaks down those tough to chew parts and also makes it much easier to digest and use in our own bodies. This could be a roasted chicken (eat the skin, close to the joints and drippings to get all of the glycine rich parts!), beef or pork roast or any other type of tough meat. Chances are, you or your family has a go to slow cooker recipes. And obviously the internet is full of them. These types of cuts are also often cheaper, too, so win-win.
Collagen smoothies - There was a period of my pregnancy when I didn't really want to eat anything, but needed to. That's when smoothies were clutch. And such a great way to get some extra collagen in! It has no flavor but offers great, healthy benefits. My two favorite smoothies are Go Green (banana, pear, lime juice, ginger juice, orange juice, spinach and collagen) and Chocolate Banana (banana, chocolate elctrolytes, ice, water and collagen). Some people add it to their coffee, too. As always, you get what you pay for when it comes to supplements. Look for grass fed options like this.
Headcheese - This one is new to my life. In fact, I had no idea what it was until recently after finding and purchasing it from Mighty Meats. It's a deli meat made from boiled parts of the animal that wouldn't be used otherwise. This can include the head (where the name comes from), feet and sometimes organs. Wow! What a great way to use the whole animal. And it's SO gelatinous! Are you worried about eating deli meat during pregnancy? After doing my research on this topic (the risk is listeria), I decided I'm not worried about it. The benefit of getting extra, easy protein with loads of collagen and gelatin greatly outweighs my risk of listeria. But, the choice is always yours!
Gummies - Who doesn't love a good gummy? And when you make them with high quality ingredients it's a big win! Just like collagen, you'll want to make sure you get it from a good quality, grass fed source. Here is an awesome recipe from Lily Nichols for Tart Cherry gummies and another from Mama Natural here. I'll be playing around with it more in the next few weeks and should have a good recipe for you soon!
Supplements - While I much prefer to eat my nutrients, there is a time and place for supplements. I typically suggest a glucosamine supplement in this case. I really like this one because it is made directly from the exoskeleton of shrimp. However, if you have a shellfish allergy, it might not be for you!
I hope you find some inspiration to get a bit more collagen (and gelatin!) in your diet now. After a few months of adding it to your life, you may notice better skin, hair and gut health. I know I sure do!