Wondering what gives some of your favorite jelly treats their texture? It’s most likely due to a type of protein derived from collagen — gelatin. Gelatin can be found in any part of an animal that provides us with amino acids — the building blocks of protein. Without these compounds we would be in big trouble. The key amino acids found in gelatin provide us with many important health benefits that we otherwise may become severely deficient in.
How is gelatin different than collagen?
Gelatin is basically broken down collagen in its simplest form. They both do an excellent job of improving joint health, improving bone health, healing skin cells, building muscle and improving the strength of tendons and joints. The biggest differences are seen when it comes to cooking and digestion. For instance, gelatin will form a jelly, sticky substance when mixed with liquid. However, this can be viewed as a benefit when it comes to cooking.
What is Gelatin?
Gelatin comes from various parts of the animal including skin, bones, ligaments and other animal tissue. As it holds joints and body parts together, it functions in a similar fashion to glue when used in foods — working as a great adhesive. It’s also what is responsible for giving our cartilage its elasticity (and most likely what we’re deficient in when it’s taken away).
When it comes to amino acids, gelatin has no shortage of these key compounds that significantly improve the health and function of our body. In fact, up to 99 percent of gelatin is protein. The key amino acids found in gelatin include:
- Glycine (21 percent)
- Proline (12 percent)
- Hydroxyproline (12 percent)
- Glutamic acid (10 percent)
- Alanine (9 percent)
- Arginine (8 percent)
- Aspartic acid (6 percent)
- Lysine (4 percent)
Glycine is the most abundant amino acid found in gelatin, being a key player in many functions including helping to build lean muscle mass, preventing the deterioration of muscle, helping produce human growth hormone, improving mental performance, preventing seizures, improving sleep, improving energy, combatting fatigue and helping increase the production of red blood cells.
Five Key Benefits of Gelatin
- Protects and repairs joints
- Improves gut health
- Improves cognition
- Improves sleep
- Improves skin health
#1: Protects and Repairs Joints
Research has shown that individuals with joint pain, bone-related issues and any additional muscle or joint soreness can benefit from supplementing with gelatin. Some studies have shown that subjects supplementing with just two grams of gelatin a day can experience less inflammation, less pain, less soreness and overall better recovery.
#2: Improves Gut Health
The abundant amount of glycine found in gelatin is responsible for producing a solid foundation of mucus that lines the stomach, protecting it from leaky gut syndrome. This is often caused by holes in the gut lining. Gelatin also plays a role in absorbing fluids — helping prevent bloating caused by fluid retention.
#3: Improves Cognition
Glycine is responsible for more than improved digestive health, as it is actually found in about half the inhibitory synapses in the spinal cord. Glycine is actually considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter, so it acts as a natural antidepressant (without any of the harmful side effects).
#4: Improves Sleep
Along with the improvement of cognition, gelatin also helps the central nervous system by increasing an individual’s ability to get a solid night of sleep. Research has shown that gelatin not only encourages a full night of well rested sleep, but it decreases the chance of daytime sleepiness as well.
#5: Improves Skin
As we age, our bodies’ ability to naturally produce gelatin decreases. This shows up in signs of wrinkles, cellulite and the skin’s overall durability. Gelatin not only helps prevent further skin damage, but has been shown to reverse some of this damage to the skin as well.
The average person in society today most likely doesn’t get enough gelatin in their diet. This is because the gelatinous parts of the animal, such as animal skin, bone marrow and tendons are often disregarded in food preparation and often thought of as unable to consume. As we age, our collagen and gelatin production naturally decrease, making it extremely important to supplement them within your diet.
When it comes to your nutrition and feeding your body correctly, it’s extremely important to be aware of what you’re deficient in and whether or not you are getting all the key compounds — gelatin being one of them. If you’re wondering why your training, sleep or recovery may be lacking, ask yourself if you’re getting enough gelatin.
About The Author:
Steph is a writer, competitive weightlifter and nutritional consultant with a passion for health and wellness. She is the founder of The Athlete’s Kitchen, a website dedicated to providing its audience with articles, recipes and the latest nutritional information on their favorite foods. Find her on instagram @stephrlo or at https://www.TheAthletesKitchen.com