Gelatin is a product made by steaming collagen. It is made almost entirely of protein, and its unique amino acid composition gives it many health benefits.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in humans and animals. It is found almost all over the body, but it is most abundant in skin, bones, tendons and ligaments.
It provides strength and structure to the organization. For example, collagen increases the flexibility of the skin and the strength of the tendons. However, collagen is difficult to eat because it is usually found in the parts of the animal that do not taste good.
Fortunately, collagen can be extracted from these parts by boiling in water. People often do this when making soups to increase flavor and nutrition.
The gelatin extracted in this process is tasteless and colorless. It dissolves in warm water and takes on a jelly-like texture when cooled.
This makes it useful as a gelling agent in food production and in products such as jellies and soft candies. It can also be consumed as a bone broth or supplement .
Sometimes gelatin is further processed to produce a substance called collagen hydrolysate, which contains the same amino acids as gelatin and has the same health benefits.
However, it dissolves in cold water and does not form jelly. This means it may be more suitable as a supplement for some people.
Both gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen are available as supplements in powder or granular form. Gelatin can also be purchased in flakes.
However, it is not suitable for vegetarians because it is made from animal parts.
Gelatin is 98-99% protein.
However, it is an incomplete protein because it does not contain all essential amino acids. Specifically, it does not contain the essential amino acid tryptophan .
But this is not a problem, because you are unlikely to use gelatin as your sole source of protein. It is also easy to obtain tryptophan from other protein-rich foods .
The following are the most abundant amino acids in mammalian gelatin :
- Glycine: 27%
- Proline: 16%
- Valine: 14%
- Hydroxyproline: 14%
- Glutamic acid: 11%
The exact amino acid composition depends on the type of animal tissue used and the method of preparation.
Interestingly, gelatin is the most abundant food source of the amino acid glycine, which is especially important for your health.
Research shows that although your body can do it, it usually cannot meet your needs. This means that it is important to eat enough in your diet.
The remaining 1-2% of nutrients vary, but are composed of water and small amounts of vitamins and minerals (such as sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and folic acid) .
However, in general, gelatin is not a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Rather, its health benefits are the result of its unique amino acid profile.
Many studies have investigated the effectiveness of gelatin in treating joint and bone problems (such as osteoarthritis).
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. This happens when the cushioning cartilage between the joints ruptures, causing pain and stiffness.
In one study, 80 patients with osteoarthritis took a gelatin supplement or a placebo for 70 days. People who took gelatin reported significant reduction in pain and joint stiffness.
In another study, 97 athletes took a gelatin supplement or a placebo for 24 weeks. Compared with those who took placebo, those who took gelatin had significantly less joint pain during rest and activity.
A review of a study found that gelatin was superior to placebo in the treatment of pain. However, the review concluded that there is insufficient evidence to recommend that people use it to treat osteoarthritis. .
The only side effects reported from using gelatin supplements are unpleasant taste and satiety. At the same time, there is some evidence that they have a positive effect on joint and bone problems.
For these reasons, if you experience these problems, it may be worth trying gelatin supplements.
Research conducted on gelatin supplements has shown positive results in improving the appearance of skin and hair.
A study asked women to eat about 10 grams of pork or fish collagen (remember that collagen is the main component of gelatin).
After taking pork collagen for eight weeks, the skin moisture of women increased by 28%, and the skin moisture increased by 12% after taking fish collagen.
In the second part of the same study, 106 women were asked to eat 10 grams of fish collagen or placebo per day for 84 days.
The study found that compared with the placebo group, the skin collagen density of the fish collagen group participants increased significantly.
Studies have shown that taking gelatin can also improve hair thickness and growth.
A study gave 24 patients with hair loss (a type of hair loss) a gelatin supplement or a placebo for 50 weeks.
The number of hair in the gelatin group increased by 29%, while the placebo group only increased by more than 10%. The quality of hair supplemented with gelatin also increased by 40%, while the placebo group decreased by 10% .
Another study reported similar findings. Participants took 14 grams of gelatin a day, and the thickness of their individual hair increased by about 11% on average .
Gelatin is rich in glycine, which is related to brain function.
A study found that taking glycine can significantly improve certain aspects of memory and concentration.
Taking glycine is also related to improving certain mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia.
Although the cause of schizophrenia is not fully understood, researchers believe that amino acid imbalance may play a role.
Glycine is one of the amino acids studied in patients with schizophrenia, and glycine supplements have been shown to reduce some symptoms .
It has also been found to reduce the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).
Gelatin actually contains no fat and carbohydrates, depending on how it is made, so it has a very low calorie content.
Research shows that it can even help you lose weight.
In one study, 22 people each took 20 grams of gelatin. As a result, they experienced elevated hormones that are known to reduce appetite , and reports indicate that glue helps them feel full.
Many studies have found that a high-protein diet can help you feel fuller. However, the type of protein you eat seems to play an important role.
A study provided 23 healthy people with gelatin or casein (a protein found in milk) as the only protein in their 36-hour diet. Researchers found that gelatin reduced hunger by 44% compared to casein.
Studies have shown that eating gelatin may have other health benefits.
It can help you fall asleep
Glycine, the amino acid rich in gelatin, has been shown in many studies to help improve sleep .
In two high-quality studies, participants took 3 grams of glycine before going to bed. Their sleep quality has improved significantly, they fall asleep more easily, and they are less tired the next day.
About 1-2 tablespoons (7-14 grams) of gelatin can provide 3 grams of glycine.
It can help treat type 2 diabetes
The ability of gelatin to help reduce weight may be beneficial to patients with type 2 diabetes, where obesity is one of the main risk factors.
Most importantly, studies have found that taking gelatin can also help patients with type 2 diabetes control blood sugar .
In one study, 74 patients with type 2 diabetes took 5 grams of glycine or a placebo daily for three months.
Three months later, the HbA1C reading of the glycine-administered group was significantly reduced, and inflammation was also reduced. HbA1C is a measure of a person's average blood sugar level over a period of time, so a lower reading means better blood sugar control.
It may improve gut health
Gelatin may also play a role in gut health .
In studies on rats, gelatin has been shown to help protect the intestinal wall from damage, although it is not yet fully understood how it does it.
An amino acid in gelatin, called glutamic acid, is converted into glutamine in the body. Glutamine has been shown to improve the integrity of the intestinal wall and help prevent "intestinal leakage."
" Intestinal leakage " refers to the excessive permeability of the intestinal wall, which allows bacteria and other potentially harmful substances to enter the blood from the intestine. This process should not occur under normal circumstances. .
This is believed to be the cause of common bowel diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It can reduce liver damage
Many studies have investigated the protective effects of glycine on the liver.
Glycine is the most abundant amino acid in gelatin and has been shown to help rats with alcohol-related liver damage. In one study, liver damage in animals given glycine was reduced.
In addition, a study on rabbits with liver damage found that administration of glycine can increase liver function and blood flow.
It may slow the growth of cancer
Early studies on animal and human cells indicate that gelatin may slow the growth of certain cancers.
In a study of human cancer cells in test tubes, gelatin in pig skin reduced the growth of gastric cancer, colon cancer, and leukemia cells.
Another study found that the gelatin in pig skin prolonged the lifespan of mice with cancerous tumors.
In addition, a study of live mice found that the tumor size of animals fed a high-glycine diet was reduced by 50-75%.
That being said, more research is needed on this before making any recommendations.