When someone thinks of healthful food, gelatin may not be one of the first things that come to mind. But gelatin is more than just a jiggly childhood snack or a hospital staple.
In this article, you can learn about gelatin’s unexpected health benefits.
What is gelatin?
Gelatin can provide health benefits due to its high protein content.
Most people are familiar with flavored, colorful gelatin. But it may be surprising to learn that gelatin is mostly made up of protein.
Gelatin is made by boiling animal bones, cartilage, and skin to extract the collagen. Collagen is a fibrous protein that connects muscles, bones, and skin in animals.
When collagen is processed, it becomes a flavorless, colorless substance called gelatin. After gelatin cools, it has a jelly-like texture.
Unlike collagen, gelatin dissolves in hot water, and the texture makes it practical to use in sauces, soups, and desserts.
The health benefits of gelatin are similar to the benefits of collagen since gelatin contains the same amino acids.
Amino acids in gelatin
Gelatin contains several amino acids. Amino acids are compounds that combine to make proteins, and are essential for the proper functioning of various organs, as well as for providing energy.
While the human body makes some amino acids, most people need to get additional amino acids through their diet.
The amino acids found in gelatin are also usually found in the bones and organs of certain animals. Since most people do not eat those parts of the animal, adding gelatin to a varied and nutritious diet may be beneficial.
Specific amino acids found in gelatin may vary, depending on the method of preparation and the animal tissues used.
Typically, the most abundant amino acids in gelatin include glycine, proline, and valine. Gelatin also contains the amino acids lysine, alanine, and arginine.
Valine is an essential amino acid that cannot be produced by the human body, which means it must come from the diet.
Gelatin may be used in food products, medications, and cosmetics as a gelling agent.
Gelatin is commonly found in gummy candies, marshmallows, and the coating of drug capsules. It is also eaten as a bone broth or taken as a supplement.
Gelatin may have a range of health benefits, including the following:
1. Improving skin health
Collagen is what gives skin its healthy and youthful appearance. As people age, they naturally lose collagen, which causes the skin to become less firm. The result is skin that has wrinkles and lines. As gelatin is a great source of collagen, it may be a natural way to improve the skin’s appearance.
2. Providing protein
One benefit of gelatin is that it provides nearly 2 grams (g) of protein per ½ cup. Protein is considered a macronutrient, which means the body needs a large amount.
Some animal sources of protein also contain significant amounts of unhealthy fat. Gelatin is a protein source that does not contain fat.
3. Aiding digestive function
Gelatin may help preserve digestive health
Gelatin may aid digestion in several different ways. For instance, the glycine in gelatin may promote a healthy mucosal lining in the stomach.
It also stimulates the production of gastric juices, which facilitates proper digestion. Without adequate digestive enzymes, gastrointestinal problems, such as acid reflux, can develop.
Also, gelatin binds to water and may help food move through the digestive system efficiently.
4. Easing joint pain
The collagen in gelatin may decrease joint pain associated with inflammation.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, some clinical studies indicate gelatin may reduce pain and improve joint function in people with osteoarthritis.
5. Helping control blood sugar
6. Maintaining healthy bones
Lysine, which is found in gelatin, helps strengthen the bones. It helps the body absorb calcium, which is also needed to keep the bones strong and prevent bone loss.
Since the body cannot make lysine, it is essential to get adequate amounts through the diet. Adding gelatin to a healthful diet is one way to improve a person’s lysine intake.
7. Improving sleep quality
Gelatin may improve sleep quality in some people due to the abundance of glycine. A few tablespoons of gelatin can provide about 3 g of glycine.
8. Aiding weight loss
Gelatin may help weight loss by helping a person feel fuller.
Gelatin may help promote weight loss due to its protein and low-calorie content. Protein helps someone feel full, which decreases the likelihood of overeating.
Gelatin may also play a role in controlling hormones associated with hunger.
However, gelatin is often found in chewy candies and marshmallows with high sugar contents. It is better to consume healthful, low-sugar sources of gelatin.
The health of the animal that is used to make gelatin affects the collagen it stores in its body. However, it is not always possible to know how the animals used to make gelatin were raised.
Animals raised in comfortable conditions with the opportunity for plenty of exercise will have higher quality collagen, which in turn makes better gelatin.
The side effects of gelatin have not been extensively studied, but serious ones appear unlikely.
It is easy for someone to make their own gelatin-rich broth by cooking the leftover carcass or bones of poultry or beef for several hours. If the broth cools, they will see a gel-substance on the surface, which is the collagen.
Gelatin is also easy to add to a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, and broths. It can also be used to make sauces, mousse, and smoothies.
For people who do not want to prepare gelatin, it is available in capsules and as a supplement.
Supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so it is important to discuss them first with a doctor, and only take the recommended dosage.
Link Medical News Today
Collagen: What is it and what are its uses
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, found in the bones, muscles, skin, and tendons.
It is the substance that holds the body together. Collagen forms a scaffold to provide strength and structure.
Endogenous collagen is natural collagen, synthesized by the body. Exogenous collagen is synthetic. It comes from an outside source, such as supplements.
Endogenous collagen has a number of important functions. Breakdown and depletion is linked to a number of health problems.
Exogenous collagen is used for medical and cosmetic purposes, including the repair of body tissues.Fast facts on collagen
Here are some key points about collagen. More detail is in the main article.
- Collagen occurs throughout the body, but especially in the skin, bones, and connective tissues.
- Some types of collagen fibrils, gram-for-gram, are stronger than steel.
- Collagen production declines with age and exposure to factors such as smoking and UV light.
- Collagen can be used in collagen dressings, to attract new skin cells to wound sites.
- Cosmetic lotions that claim to increase collagen levels are unlikely to do so, as collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed through the skin.
What is collagen?
Collagen has a sturdy structure. Gram-for-gram, some types are stronger than steel.
Collagen is a hard, insoluble, and fibrous protein that makes up one-third of the protein in the human body.
In most collagens, the molecules are packed together to form long, thin fibrils.
These act as supporting structures and anchor cells to each other. They give the skin strength and elasticity.
There are at least 16 different types of collagen, but 80 to 90 percent of them belong to types 1, 2, and 3. These different types have different structures and functions.
The collagens in the human body are strong and flexible.
Type 1 collagen fibrils are particularly capable of being stretched. Gram-for-gram, they are stronger than steel.
Roles: What does collagen do?
Collagen is secreted by various cells, but mainly by connective tissue cells.
It is found in the extracellular matrix. This is an intricate network of macromolecules that determines the physical properties of body tissues. A macromolecule is a molecule containing a large number of atoms.
With age, collagen weakens, leading to wrinkles and cartilage problems.
In the dermis, or the middle layer of skin, collagen helps form a fibrous network of cells called fibroblasts, upon which new cells can grow. It also plays a role in replacing and restoring dead skin cells.
Some collagens act as protective coverings for delicate organs in the body, such as the kidneys.
With age, the body produces less collagen. The structural integrity of the skin declines. Wrinkles form, and joint cartilage weakens.
Women experience a dramatic reduction in collagen synthesis after menopause.
By the age of 60 years, a considerable decline in collagen production is normal.
Uses: Medical and cosmetic
Collagen is resorbable. This means it can be broken down, converted, and absorbed back into the body. It can also be formed into compacted solids or lattice-like gels.
Its diverse range of functions and the fact that it is naturally occurring make it clinically versatile and suitable for various medical purposes.
Collagen for medical use can originate from humans, cows, pigs, or sheep.
Collagen injections can improve the contours of the skin and fill out depressions.
Fillers that contain collagen can be used cosmetically to remove lines and wrinkles from the face. It can also improve scars, as long as these do not have a sharp edge.
These fillers are sourced from humans and cows. Skin tests should be done before using collagen from cows, to avoid aggravating any allergies.
Collagen can fill relatively superficial volumes. More extensive gaps are usually filled with substances such as fat, silicone, or implants.
Collagen can help heal wounds by attracting new skin cells to the wound site. It promotes healing and provides a platform for new tissue growth.
Collagen dressings can help heal:
- chronic wounds that do not respond to other treatment
- wounds that expel bodily fluids such as urine or sweat
- granulating wounds, on which different tissue grows
- necrotic or rotting wounds
- partial and full-thickness wounds
- second-degree burns
- sites of skin donation and skin grafts
Collagen dressings are not recommended for third-degree burns, wounds covered in dry eschar, or for patients who may be sensitive to products sourced from cows.
Guided tissue regeneration
Collagen-based membranes have been used in periodontal and implant therapy to promote the growth of specific types of cell.
In oral surgery, collagen barriers can prevent fast-growing cells around the gum from migrating to a wound in a tooth. This preserves a space where tooth cells have the chance to regenerate.
Collagen-based membranes can aid healing in these cases and they are resorbable, so this barrier does not need to be surgically removed after the main operation.
Collagen tissue grafts from donors have been used in peripheral nerve regeneration, in vascular prostheses, and in arterial reconstruction.
While collagen prostheses are compatible with the human body, some have been found to bethrombogenic, or likely to cause coagulation of the blood.
Treatment of osteoarthritis
Collagen supplements or formulations may help treat osteoarthritis.
A 2006 review found that supplements containing collagen helped decrease painful symptoms and improving joint function in people with osteoarthritis.
As the supplement was absorbed, collagen accumulated in the cartilage, and this helped to rebuild the extracellular matrix.
Not all studies have supported these findings, however.
Collagen creams are unlikely to work, as collagen molecules are too large to pass through the skin.
Many products containing collagen, including creams and powders, claim to revitalize the skin by increasing collagen levels within the body.
This is unlikely, however, as collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed through the skin.
Any benefit is probably due to the moisturizing effects of these products. They do not directly increase collagen.
Such treatments are also not classified as drugs, so any claims regarding their efficacy do not need to be scientifically proven. Caution is advised when using these products.