3 Reasons to Eat More Gelatin & Collagen
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
For optimal functioning of the body and endocrine system, one should consume adequate amounts of protein (not too much though) and also make sure that the protein comes from balanced sources so that the amino acid profile is optimal for the human body.
This is not what we’re doing with modern-day diets, unfortunately, when we get the majority of our protein from muscle-meats and whey protein, we get too much of the amino acids tryptophan and cysteine, with not enough proline and glycine (the connective tissue amino’s).
This wasn’t always a problem since humans used to eat the whole animal, and thus got plenty of collagen protein (with good amounts of proline and glycine) from the connective tissue, organs, and skin.
up to 50% of the protein in animals is gelatin (the cooked form of collagen). Our diets which lack the skin, bones, cartilladge, and organs, also lack gelatin, and thus are deficient in proline and glycine.
So, why is it important to eat gelatin to get more proline and glycine to your system and balance the amino acid profile?
1. Gelatin Promotes Sleep Quality
35% of the amino acids in gelatin are glycine, the simplest amino acid in the human body which also acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. This makes gelatin the richest natural source of glycine.
Due to its inhibitory nature, glycine can activate GABA-receptors in the brain to induce relaxation, and there are also glycine receptors in the brain which act in similar “downer-like” fashion.
Because of the above, it’s not a coincidence that glycine administration has been found to promote sleep quality…
…For example, in this human study, 3 grams of glycine taken 1-hour prior to bedtime was able to improve self-reported sleep quality as well as reduce subjective morning fatigue. Similar results were seen in another study using the same 3g dosage 1-hour before going to sleep, glycine improved sleep quality, reduced morning fatigue, and improved day-time cognitive functions.
In this third study, the effects of three grams of glycine 1-hour before hitting the sack was measured with EEG-apparatus (this is the type of machine that measures sleep quality with scalp electrodes). As to be expected, glycine was able to significantly improve sleep quality, reduce morning fatigue, reduce sleep latency, and even caused the subjects to enter slow-wave sleep faster.
Since gelatin is the richest natural source of the inhibitory neurotransmitter glycine, its use as a sleep aid is well-researched and clinically proven.
2. Gelatin May Reduce Stress by Lowering Cortisol
Due to its inhibitory nature in the brain, it’s been widely theorized that glycine (the main amino acid of gelatin) would lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol (however this has by now only been proven in animals).
There’s also another possible mechanism as to how gelatin could lead to lower stress, as explained by Dr. Ray Peat:
Also, as you can read in the above subheading, gelatin improves sleep, and improved sleep results in lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol, meaning that there are possible direct (increased glycine, lowered serotonin) as well as indirect (improved sleep) ways in which gelatin can reduce stress hormone levels.
3. Gelatin Improves Joint Health
It makes a lot of sense that gelatin – which is the actual connective tissue collagen protein – would be beneficial for joint health.
Not only is it the actual material the body uses to build joints and connective tissue, but it also has an anti-inflammatory effect and can thus prevent inflammation related joint problems.
It has been widely researched that collagen hydrosylate (a form of gelatin that dissolves in cold water) improves joint health and provides arthritis relief for humans and animals (study, study, study, study).
Pure food grade gelatin (affiliate link) works just as well as collagen hydrolysate (affiliate link). They are pretty much identical substances, the hydrolysate form will just dissolve more easily to cold drinks.
Gelatin is a wonderful source of high-quality connective tissue protein to balance out our amino acid profile from eating too much muscle-meats.
It improves sleep quality, reduces cortisol, and is beneficial for joints.