Here at Broth of Life, we are asked a multitude of questions from the origins of bone broth to the details of its contents and its nutritional value. One question that tends to come up quite frequently is around the difference between gelatin and collagen. Another is why bone broth is preferred over powdered gelatin and collagen products.
What is the Difference Between Gelatin and Collagen?
The reason the answer to this question can be so confusing is that gelatin is made of collagen. Collagen is the basic structure of bone, tendons, hair, skin, and connective tissues. Gelatin is quite simply the cooked form of collagen.
You cannot have one without the other.
When the collagen in bones, tissues, tendons and skins of animals is cooked, gelatin is produced. Collagen is a pure, clear protein containing amino acids that promote muscle energy, healthy skin and joints. It also assists with digestion. Its consistency is like that of a gel.
Given the two are produced by the same process, it can be difficult to understand the real difference between them.
Gelatin is not a complete protein. Although it consists of the 18 amino acids we need for survival, there are some missing – and quite rightly so, it would seem. The two amino acids that are not found in gelatin are tryptophan and cysteine. Due to the fact that these two amino acids are missing, gelatin causes the body to fight inflammation. Too much of these two missing amino acids and inflammation can occur.
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘glue’ that holds our bodies together. As babies, the collagen production in our bodies is high. As we age it naturally slows in production; reducing plumpness of the skin, causing wrinkles to appear, cartilage to weaken and joint pains to become more prominent.
What are the health benefits of Gelatin and Collagen?
Gelatin improves digestion. The hydrophilic colloids it adds to the diet promote digestive juices that make it easier for food to pass through the digestive tract.
Gelatin consumption is well-known as a successful treatment for conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and Colitis. It is a gut healer and therefore a healer of our ‘second brain.’
Collagen supports skin elasticity and moisture. It makes sense that the one thing that depletes as we grow older is replaced somehow. It helps keep our skin, nails and hair healthy. By promoting elasticity, collagen encourages the regeneration of bones, tendons, cartilage and joints.
Why Choose Bone Broth over Gelatin or collagen Powder?
Bone broth is the most efficient and natural way to consume Gelatin and collagen along with all the other nutrients found naturally in a whole food. Separating the gelatin and collagen into a powder removes the chemical magic of micronutrients remaining with their macronutrients, which can only be achieved when eating a whole food product, such as bone broth.
Powders are processed using calcium hydroxide or acid solutions to render ingredients such as soaked pig skins and cow hides. As previously mentioned, collagen is found in bones, ligaments, cartilage and tendons as well as skin. By using only the skins of animals, commercially refined collagen powders are missing out on the goodness that bone broth and all its glorious ingredients can provide. Bone broth is the more natural, tastier version. It’s naturally higher in collagen and gelatin and more enjoyable to consume.
Another factor to consider is the quality of the collagen and gelatin you are consuming. Grass fed animals have a healthier fat profile and can provide us with a multitude of other health benefits (but that’s a blog for another day). It might surprise some to know that there are very few grass fed START to FINISH gelatin or collagen powders on the market. In fact, most big-name powders are only grass fed START and grain FINISHED.
In addition to this, it can be hard to find a certified organic gelatin or collagen powder. Many contain ingredients such as anti-caking agents, preservatives, flavourings and even protein powders.
The consumption of bone broth and the subsequent increase in collagen and gelatin levels means that we can promote a balanced amino acid profile within our bodies. Among the many other benefits that bone broth can offer, it’s collagen and gelatin levels give us a fighting chance against conditions like arthritis and inflammation.
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