What is Gelatin Exactly?
Short and simple: gelatin is essentially 'cooked collagen'.
I’m not surprised if that didn’t answer all of your questions. What’s the difference between gelatin, collagen, and bone broth? How many types of collagen are there? Which is the easiest on digestion? I have answers, let’s get to it.
A whole food source of collagen/gelatin that has become rather trendy in these past few years is bone broth. This nutrient-dense broth is prepared by boiling bones, and any bits and pieces of meat, skin, and gristle attached to them for 18 hours or so. It’s a timely process, but every minute counts. A prolonged cooking time is essential for extracting the natural collagen, proline, glutamine and glycine from the bones and ligaments. While you can’t see this happening, when the broth does cools, the gel-like characteristics of gelatin will unveil.
Utilizing the remains of an animal is a zero-waste tradition. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had mastered the potential of utilizing every part of the animal. At this time, throwing out a source of energy was an unthinkable action. With the later invention of cooking equipment, a meal could be made of bone broth with added seasonal vegetables and tubers. In our Victorian era, we started to take the gelatin from bone broth and use it to make all kinds of fancy gelatin desserts. Knowing this history isn’t necessary, but it is rather fascinating to ponder on.
Different TYPES OF COLLAGEN
There at least 16 different types of collagen found in the body. Between 80 and 90 percent consists of types 1, 2, and 3. This is important to know, as different forms of collagen are found in certain foods and collagen supplements. This is the breakdown of our top 3 most abundant types:
TYPE #1: Our most abundant by far, and considered the strongest. Type 1 forms tendons, ligaments, organs and skin. Type 1 also helps to form bones and can be found within the GI tract. Essential for wound healing, repairing digestion, encouraging strong healthy hair, and adding elasticity for youthful looking skin.
TYPE #2: Primarily used for building cartilage and healthy connective tissue. Supplementing with type 2 is the most therapeutic option for rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
TYPE #3: Usually found alongside type 1. Making up our organs and skin, this form has added benefits for skin health, and it forms blood vessels and tissue within the heart.
Different sources of collagen will contain different types, here are our top sources and how they differ:
YOUR TOP SOURCES OF COLLAGEN
BOVINE: Coming from cows and more specifically from their skin, bones and muscles. Bovine collagen contains mostly type 1 and 3 and additionally the amino acids glycine and proline, which are useful in: creatine production, building muscle and helping the body to produce its own collagen.
CHICKEN: This source contains type 2. Best for building cartilage, chicken collagen is beneficial for joint health, especially since this source also provides chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate.
FISH: Providing mostly type 1 collagen with the amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. Because type 1 collagen can be found throughout the entire body, consuming more fish collagen has been associated with benefits for the joints, skin, vital organs, blood vessels, digestion and bones.
EGG SHELL MEMBRANE: Found in the shells and whites of eggs, this source contains mostly type 1 collagen and also provides glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid and various amino acids that benefit our connective tissue, wound healing, building muscle mass and reducing pain/stiffness.
It should also be noted that the quality of collagen matters and this directly relates to the ethics of how it was source was raised. Always choose pasture-raised, grass-fed and wild-caught.
COLLAGEN VS GELATIN SUPPLEMENTS
Collagen and gelatin are essentially the same, they have a mirrored amino acid and protein content profiles - what makes them different is how they are to be used and how they are digested.
GELATIN POWDER creates a gel-like consistency when prepared. You can use gelatin powder to make gut-healing gummies, gelatin-based desserts, and you can add it to your baking to create a chewy consistency. You need to have a game plan when using gelatin, as pure gelatin powder will only dissolve in hot water and it will always create that gummy consistency. For someone who doesn't have strong digestion, gelatin is not the best suited option, as it can be more troublesome to breakdown.
COLLAGEN POWDER going by the name of hydrolyzed collagen or collagen hydrolysate. These are processed in a different way than gelatin. Collagen is heated to a higher temperature and is then treated with enzymes - which breaks the bonds between the amino acids. Collagen powders are easier for the body to digest when compared to gelatin, and it is better for those with weakened or stressed digestion. Collagen powder dissolves in liquid and will not create a gel-like consistency. This is the easiest source to use as it can be added to coffee, homemade lattes, energy bites and oatmeal.
BONE BROTH is your most natural collagen option and it is also the easiest on digestion. However the preparation process is rather long and purchasing pre-made versions adds up in price, quickly. I absolutely recommend that you utilize bone broth, especially in the winter months for soups and stews to support warmth and immunity, however overall I find collagen powder to be the easiest to include as part of your daily routine.
SUPPORTING COLLAGEN ABSORPTION
Collagen is both synthesized by your body and absorbed from dietary sources and supplementation. While collagen powder is fairly easy for your body to digest and process, there are some natural foods that you can include to boost your natural collagen formation. Particularity foods containing vitamin C, amino acids (proline and lysine), and zinc.
Vitamin C: raw red bell peppers, pineapple, kiwi, cantaloupe, organic strawberries, goji berries
Proline (amino acid): pasture-raised eggs, animal protein, bone broth, wild fish
Lysine (amino acid): pasture-raised beef, wild fish, cheese, nuts, legumes
Zinc: oysters, pasture-raised meat, beans and peas, nuts, seeds
CHOOSE A MULTI-SOURCE COLLAGEN
When it comes to supplementation, i’ll admit it can be a challenge to stick to schedule. I often forget to take my own probiotics because they're tucked away in the fridge, and I sometimes neglect my herbal tinctures since they don't all taste the best. However, collagen is something that I keep up with and I encourage others to utilize this functional supplement.
It’s worthwhile to choose a multi-source collagen. I added WellPath Renew to my routine, this brand utilizes a blend of collagen peptides, including types 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10. Thus offering diverse benefits when compared to a single-type collagen. WellPath sources grass-fed and pasture-raised bovine, wild caught red snapper, cage-free chicken and eggshell membrane. This natural, multi-collagen powder is packed with 20 nourishing amino acids and 7 grams of protein per scoop, with 40 servings per container.
Upgrade your daily routine, and feel the collagen benefits for yourself. Discover what happened when to me when I added collagen to my routine.