Collagen and gelatin are two extremely important pieces that allow our bodies to function and flourish. Collagen helps keep our bodies looking and feeling young whether that be our skin, muscles, joints, or hair. Collagen is extremely abundant in our bodies and therefore many parts of us rely on it to stay healthy. Gelatin, on the other hand, is a form of collagen and falls under the collagen umbrella.
Here we will discover what collagen is, what gelatin is, their differences, and their benefits to us and our bodies.
What is Collagen?
Our Bodies’ Secret Weapon
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. There are over 20 types of collagen, though type 1 makes up 90% of our bodies' collagen. Type 1 collagen can be found in our skin, connective tissue, tendons, bones, and internal organs. Other types include type 2 (found in cartilage), type 3 (found in bone marrow and lymphoid tissue), type 4 ( found in membranes that surround many types of tissues), and type 5 (found in hair and cell surfaces).
Our bodies produce collagen naturally by breaking down proteins in amino acids. However, this process slows down as early as age 25. This means we have to be conscious about incorporating collagen into our lifestyle, whether through dietary change or supplements. Another important note is that our lifestyle plays a role in how well we produce collage. Some things like intense sun exposure and smoking regularly can lower our bodies’ collagen production. Some foods that are great sources of collagen, according to the Cleveland Clinic include:
- Dairy Products
- Bone Broth
There have been several studies to test whether or not collagen is helpful in healing our bodies. In 2019, BioMedical Engineering OnLine published a journal stating that topically applying collagen can successfully be used to treat wounds. It helps to promote healing as well as to prevent infections. The journal also found that collagen is successful when applied during reconstruction surgeries. Biopolymers, another journal, also states that collagen can speed up the process of wound healing when it comes to tissue regeneration.
What is Gelatin?
The Good, the Bad, the Gummies
Gelatin is almost entirely colorless, tasteless, and translucent. It is a water-soluble protein from collagen that can be found in many foods.
Gelatin is a form of collagen that is derived from animal tissue. If your first thought is gummies and jello when you hear “gelatin” then you’re in the right place. Now, gelatin is found in most of our favorite gummy snacks, but it is much more prevalent than you might think. It can also be found in meaty soups and bone broths. The product itself comes as a form of animal byproduct, usually from the bones, hides, and areas of low meat content such as ears.
Amino acids are key to our bodies health. Gelatin has two: glycine and proline. These amino acids help our joints stay strong as well as reduce inflammation. Along with this, gelatin also has been thought to help our bodies in several ways including gut health, sleep quality, and cognitive function. While gelatin is good for you and does have benefits, be careful not to ingest too much. An excess of gelatin can lead to constipation and bloating.
Gelatin is also found in many cosmetics products as well as medicines and supplements due to it containing collagen.
While gelatin is not vegan or vegetarian, there are vegan substitutes for gelatin for those who do follow these diets. These options include Agar-Agar, Kosher Gelatin, and Carrageen.
What are the Similarities and Differences Between Collagen and Gelatin?
How to Make Sure You are Getting the Nutrients Your Body Needs.
Collagen and gelatin are very similar. Gelatin, after all, is a cooked form of collagen. However, the two do have differences and there are some things that gelatin is better for and others that would benefit more if collagen was used.
The two share very similar nutrition facts. Both have 12 grams of protein and zero grams of carbs and fats. Their calorie count is also very similar with gelatin at 47 calories and collagen at 50 calories. These nutrition facts come from 2 grams of each substance. The two also are made up of similar amino acids, both having glycine as the most abundant. The two are also both easy to digest and benefit the health of skin, joints, guts, and bones.
Among the differences, gelatin has gelling properties while collagen does not. Collagen is used mostly as a nutritional supplement while gelatin is used mostly as a gelling agent in cooking. Collagen can dissolve in hot and cold liquid while gelatin can only be dissolved in hot liquid.
The two both help improve skin aging, keeping a good amount of elasticity and moisture in our skin. They also help exercise induced joint wear due to these proteins accumulating near cartilage.
The main difference between these two proteins is their chemical structures, which allow collagen to dissolve in hot and cold water while gelatin can only dissolve in cold water.
Either can help your body look and feel healthy, so which one should you choose?
Collagen is easy to digest as a natural supplement. You can also add it to teas, coffees, smoothies, soups, and other foods and drinks without changing them, therefore making the supplement very versatile. Gelatin causes things to gel, so you would have to be conscious of that while preparing your food or drink. Collagen supplements also make it easy to know how much you have consumed, so there is no need to fear the bloating and constipation that can come from ingesting too much gelatin.
Overall, if you are looking for nutrition and health benefits and do not want a gel-like treat that day, stick to collagen. If you are craving a jello or gummy substance, or you really are in the mood for some protein heavy soup, then gelatin is your best bet.