You may have heard about collagen as an ingredient in beauty creams but it's a protein naturally found almost everywhere in the body, from your muscles to your bones, tendons and skin. It helps to hold everything together, it’s what gives skin strength, elasticity "plumpness" and glow.

When you are young, you have an abundance of collagen in your body, which is why young children have such lovely shiny hair and smooth skin. It is referred to, as the cement which holds everything together. As you age, collagen production declines and weakening of the skin occurs.

The skin is made up of three layers, epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The second layer of the skin (dermis) is where the protein collagen is found. Collagen molecules are bundled together throughout the dermis. As well as being good for your epidermis, it's also great for hair, joints, treating leaky gut, boosting metabolism, raising energy and strengthening nails and teeth.

Bone broth

Our ancestors had no problem with making sure they got enough collagen in their diets. Traditionally they ate every part of the animal from the skin, tendons and ligaments, collagen-rich parts that we typically reject today. If the thought of that makes you squirm, there is a more pleasant way to get your collagen in and that’s with a delicious healing bone broth, like the one I created here.

When you drink bone broth, you just feel good all over. That’s because bone broth contains cell-energizing nutrients! These can be made using either bones from free range chicken, wild fish or grass fed cows. Healthy, delicious, full of minerals and collagen. Making a big batch can save time as some of these recipes need 24-hours on the stove! Your bone broth can also be stored in jars or as ice cubes in the freezer for later use in cooking, or simply on its own in a mug whenever you feel like it.

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Supplementing

If cooking’s not your thing there are powders that make it easier to increase your daily intake. When opting for a collagen powder, you want to make sure that you are getting it from grass-fed pasture raised cows, with no antibiotics or chemicals. My favourite that I enjoy and trust is Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate. I take two tablespoons in the morning with water and two tablespoons at night. Of course, you can incorporate it into your smoothies too!

Dark green vegetables

Spinach, cabbage and kale are packed with an antioxidant called lutein and are high in collagen producing agents. You need 10 mg to get results, which equates to roughly 4oz. of spinach or 2oz. of kale. Rich in vitamin C, regular consumption of kale, spinach, collards, and asparagus help to strengthen the body's ability to manufacture collagen and to utilize the protein effectively.

It is possible to provide everything your body needs to produce collagen by eating a balanced diet. By including some of the foods mentioned here, you will soon begin to see a difference in the quality of your skin tone, as well as have an improved sense of overall health.

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