This image shows bones on the ground and is the image of my post about collagen and connective tissue in an animal-based diet.

Eat more Collagen and Connective Tissue for optimal Health!

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There is a lot of buzz recently around collagen, especially for all kinds of anti-ageing products. Likewise, connective tissue gets a lot of attention within the animal-based community regarding bone broth and the unique health benefits that come with regularly consuming it. Righteously so, because both, collagen and connective tissue, are both things we nowadays tend to fall short on with our diets – especially if you follow a traditional or more plant-based diet. Falling short on collagen with an animal-based diet or carnivore diet is often not so much a problem, nonetheless, do you need to think about where you are incorporating these parts of the animal into your diet.

And that’s what we’re going to look at – first at the biochemistry and health benefits of collagen, afterward at the ways, we can best consume collagen – especially at supplementing collagen hydrolysate* and the benefits of bone broth.

The Role of Collagen within our Body

What is Collagen?

Collagen* is one of the most abundant proteins in your body that is of crucial importance for the makeup of connective tissues. In fact, it makes up around 30% of the proteins within your body and can be found everywhere where different types of tissues need to be held together, like in membranes, tendons, skin, connective tissue, cartilage, and the like. It is the scaffolding of your body, or the glue, depending on your viewpoint. The word ‘Collagen‘ that many people toss around refers to a family of 28 different collagen molecules. The most abundant within the human body is type II collagen.1 A few others that are common are:

  • Type I – Found in the cartilage of your joints
  • Type III – Found in lymph tissues and bone marrow
  • Type IV – Found in cell membranes
  • Type V – Found on cells and in hair

All of those collagens differ from each other in their usage of your body and the makeup of the molecules, like for example in weight and size. 2Your body can synthesize collagen itself – to do so it needs the 3 amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Moreover, zinc, copper, manganese, and vitamin C are crucial as cofactors for enzymes.
One disease that raised historically that affected connective tissue was scurvy for an entire lack of vitamin C.3 Fortunately, on an animal-based diet, incorporating meats, organs, bone broth while getting rid of the most toxic plants, you will get plenty of all of them. Remember, the body and no substance itself uses functions in a vacuum – it’s all interconnected and interdependent.

Collagen makes up all the connective tissue within your body. It's important.
Collagen makes up all the connective tissue within your body. It’s important.

What Role has Collagen to fulfil?

Collagen is widely present within the scaffolding tissues of our body. Especially our skin is bathed in it, roughly 80% of our skin’s proteins are collagen. Furthermore, collagen has a role to fulfill regarding bone health, joint integrity, and even inflammation responses within our gut, as well as the aforementioned tissues.

While we can synthesize it ourselves, providing it within our nutrition on a regular basis can offer many benefits. So what are the exact jobs collagen needs to fulfill, and what happens if the demands aren’t quite met?

Collagen and Inflammation

Collagen* has many targets to act beneficially on inflammatory processes – for the nerds the main targets are the dendritic cells in your gut, T-Cells within tissues, as well as interleukins. Overall there are observable effects that suppress inflammation and hinder the aforementioned cells from proliferating in the wrong context.

That said, Collagen could provide help for general gut health, autoimmune conditions, and especially inflammations within your connective tissue like arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid diseases.4

Collagen and the Joint Health

Collagen is the scaffolding of your body's tissues. It connects all the parts and keeps them together and balances out the methionine to glycine ratio.
Collagen – keeping everything together since the dawn of time.

Regarding joints, collagen seems to have the biggest impact, especially to prevent inflammation and promote the proper build-up of such tissues. Within your joints, mostly Type II collagen is found and widely used.

There weren’t many acute effects found though, other than decreased joint pain while exercises – nonetheless regarding the role of collagen making sure your body has its demands met is worth the change.

One article I found very useful was this one by Examine. It is a conglomerate of the underlying research and combines more than 70 studies on this topic. I really appreciate the work done by these guys. Check them out if you wanna know more about supplements!

One article I found very useful was this one by Examine. It is a conglomerate of the underlying research and combines more than 70 studies on this topic. I really appreciate the work done by these guys. Check them out if you wanna know more about supplements!

Collagen’s Role in Skin

Within your Skin Type I and III predominate, but more interestingly even the supplementation of Type II collagen increased the synthesis of those. Furthermore, the ingestion of collagen also increased the production of hyaluronic acid within the skin and joints tissues that itself shows beneficial properties for their health.5

Within the skin sufficient levels of collagen also make sure that your skin’s natural defense against UV radiation works well, albeit the more important factor for that is clearly 25-OH Vitamin D3.

What is the Methionine to Glycine Ratio?

Methionine and Glycine are both amino acids our body uses and of tremendous importance. Both play big roles on the stage of our body’s metabolism and help to fill crucial roles – ranging from methylation to neurotransmitter synthesis. They need to be balanced within an ancestrally consistent ratio that our forbearers accomplished through a mixed diet containing muscle meats as well as connective tissue.
Let’s look at those two players first before discussing the ratio!

This infographic explains the methionine to glycine ratio and covered the most important parts.

Methionine is an essential amino acid, meaning we have to eat it. It is found in high amounts in muscle meats. Methionine is crucial for:

  • Methylation – the process of adding methyl groups to molecules. In this process, it donates its methyl group. Methylation serves as a messenger within the genome and epigenome, helps to detoxify in the liver, is involved in the production of neuromodulators, and the build-up of other tissues.6
  • SAM-e – this guy is an enzyme that is involved in the production of certain neurotransmitters that regulate your mood
  • Creatine Synthesis – yes, also involved in this pathway together with glycine and others.
  • Choline pathways such as PC – choline helps to shuttle fat from the liver and is involved in the brain in the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that foremost promotes mental focus.

Unlike Methionine, glycine is not essential, meaning that our body can produce it. Interestingly, glycine is high in connective tissues and bones, two foods most of us nowadays fall short of. The most important roles glycine fulfills are:

  • Buffer for Methionine – Glycine acts as a buffer for too much methionine and prevents excessive methylation
  • Skin & Joints Health – Glycine is the most abundant in collagen
  • Promote the release of human growth hormone and muscular recovery
  • Important for the production of Glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant
  • Sulphuration – too much sulphite-heavy, animal-based amino acids like methionine foremost found in muscle meat could cause a sulphite problem, especially if you miss out on molybdenum

A great Methionine to Glycine Ratio is 10:1

Now that we got those two covered let’s look at what’s meant by the ratio! 7

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Methionine and Glycine are involved in the production of homocysteine, methylation, and glutathione. While we talked about the first guy, what are homocysteine and glutathione?

Glutathione is the master antioxidant substance of your body – it is present in many cells and prevents oxidative damage by donating electrons. Glutathione can be synthesized if your methionine and glycine levels are in check. If not the production shifts towards homocysteine. Homocysteine is an indicator for an array of diseases, such as cardiovascular, renal malfunction and vitamin B deficiencies, as it is involved in the methylation cycle and others such as the folate cycle. 8

So with all of that knowledge – what is the optimal methionine to glycine ratio? Roughly 20g of glycine a day, which is the equivalent of 500ml of bone broth weighs out 200g of protein. Divide the protein number by 10 that you eat – that’s the amount of glycine you roughly need to add on top. Don’t count it within the normal protein, just add it on top. That is roughly the optimal range to get your body’s methionine to glycine ratio in ancestrally consistent bounds. If you need support for your methylation because you think your diet lacks certain nutrients, I can recommend CodeAge’s Methylation supplement*, but make sure to avoid folic acid entirely as it blocks methylfolates receptors.

To construct a diet full of nutrients I created a micronutrient guide, for free, going into the depths of each mineral, vitamin, and zoonutrient. You can download the guide by clicking the button down below or grab it from my freebie page.

How to get more Collagen and Connective Tissue

Now that we’ve waded through this fascinating, but challenging quagmire of biochemistry, let’s get more practicable and talk about how you can incorporate more collagen within your diet to balance our methionine to glycine ratio, as well as get into the other benefits of collagen!

One of the two ways is through nutrition, which should be your first vector of attack. The second is supplementing collagen hydrolysate*, a simpler way than through nutrition that lacks a few possible benefits.

Eat more collagen with an animal-based diet

We concluded that collagen is found in connective tissue that makes up the scaffolding of animals. Therefore eating those or using those in some ways grants you access to the benefits of those. So how do we best eat bones and joints?

I know it doesn’t sound that promising at first – but there are a few simple ways to increase the amount of collagen and connective tissue within your diet:

The Best Way: Cook your own Bone Broth!

This image shows bone broth in a few bowls. Bone broth is rich in collagen and connective tissues.
Bone Broth has many benefits – one is collagen. Other’s are minerals and special amino acids.

As we’ve seen, the benefits of bone broth are a many, plus it’s super easy to make. The foremost important probably your methionine to glycine ratio, especially if your diet consists on a lot of sulphite-heavy, animal-based proteins. Additionally, Bone broth helps you to reduce waste while using every part of an animal from nose-to-tail. That saves a lot of money, too, by using cheap parts like feet or trotters. Making broth is super easy once you got a slowcooker at hand:

  • You need high-quality bones – chicken, beef, lamb, whatever
  • Add trimmings, gnarly bits, and remains from other meals
  • Add rough parts as trotters or feet
  • A good amount of salt*
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (To solute the substances out of the bones)

Throw all into your slowcooker, fill up with water, and forget it on low for 24-48h. Done! Easy as that. After getting the solids out of your broth, you can fill it into mason jars and store them in your fridge for 1-2 weeks. Alternatively, you can fill them into fitting portions and store your self-made broth in your freezer. This whole process shouldn’t cost you more than 1h of active work in total for a week’s amount of broth – depending on your slowcooker size. Two great recipes for a beef broth and chicken broth can be found here!

Now you can have one cup of warm broth each morning, a real gamechanger on cold winter mornings, or use your homemade broth as a base for other meals you want to cook. Some claim bone broth even helped them to ban coffee out of their lives!

Supplement Collagen Hydrolysate

Supplementing with collagen* is an easy way to get exposed to the benefits of collagen – you can simply add 7-12g of the powder into anything, as it doesn’t affect the texture, nor has a taste. Many add it to yogurt, coffee, or water – it doesn’t really matter. Add it where it’s convenient for you at a random time, as long as you take it. So what do you have to look for when buying collagen?

First off, make sure that you’re purchasing Collagen Hydrolysate* or thus called hydrolyzed collagen. It is collagen that underwent hydrolysis, that way your body can absorb the collagen much better. Next stick to bovine collagen or marine collagen from aquaculture where you can make sure that heavy metal contamination is monitored and low. While bovine collagen* is richer in Type I & III collagen, marine collagen* tends to accumulate more Type II collagen. Both do the job though and are worth experimenting with. As noticed, quality matters here – buy it grass-fed and from a tested producer.9One article I found very useful was this one by Examine. It is a conglomerate of the underlying research and combines more than 70 studies on this topic. I really appreciate the work done by these guys. Check them out if you wanna know more about supplements!

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