Maintaining our physical health can be a major challenge, considering the sheer volume of fast food and the cost-prohibitive nature of healthier selections. A growing health crisis in America has spread to other countries because of the escalating reliance on cheap, unhealthy food.
As a result, a large portion of the human population finds themselves supplementing essential nutrients with vitamins and health products. Others try to update their diets to factor in the nutrients they are missing and reduce their consumption of unhealthy meals. Some compounds are easier to implement into our diet so we can reach the standard of health we need.
Shockingly, some of the substances we introduce to our diet can simultaneously benefit our health and appearance. The problem is that some substances have multiple variants that make it difficult to identify the ones we actually need versus the ones we do not.
One surprisingly confusing substance is gelatin, which might seem silly to be confused over, but there is a valid reason. Gelatin, like many compounds, comes in multiple forms, either due to natural variance or because of human intervention. Modern manufacturing has led us to begin tweaking these substances to suit consumer preferences.
Gelatin is no exception to this practice and has been modified by the food industry to generate the desired flavor or effect. One such variant is hydrolyzed gelatin. The cosmetics industry also takes advantage of gelatin variants to enhance certain physical features. That said, there is a question about the difference between normal and hydrolyzed gelatin.
What is Gelatin?
Gelatin is commonly associated with certain snack foods, primarily Jell-O, due to the prevalence of gelatin-based desserts. Normal gelatin is also found in other gelatinous foods like marshmallows, gummy bears, and even ice cream. Most people do not know until doing additional research that gelatin is a vegetarian's arch-enemy.
Because gelatin is so commonly used in desserts, it is difficult to avoid, and vegetarians cannot consume it because gelatin is actually made from animals. Gelatin is a protein that is synthesized from collagen harvested from farm animals. The main sources of animal collagen, insofar as gelatin is concerned, are cows and pigs (the latter adding dietary restrictions for followers of the Jewish and Islamic faiths). Once the collagen is refined into gelatin, the end product is translucent, flavorless, and colorless.
Believe it or not, the earliest record of gelatin dates back to the 10th century. An Arabic cookbook called the Kitab al-Tabikh contained a fish aspic recipe made by boiling fish heads into gelatin. Since then, the uses of gelatin have expanded, and the demand has skyrocketed. As of 2019, the worldwide demand for gelatin was approximately 620,000 tons, making it one of history's most highly demanded ingredients.
Converting animal collagen to gelatin is also fairly simple and can be performed from the comfort of your home. Homemade gelatin can be created by boiling cartilaginous cuts of meat or bones, which causes the gelatin to dissolve into the water. If the concentration is high enough, the stock will naturally transform into a jelly or gel once it cools. This final state is traditional gelatin and can be used to make aspic or other savory gelatinous compounds. However, there are alternate production methods that are more advanced and effective (as well as opening the door for other applications).
What is Hydrolyzed Gelatin?
You might not have heard of hydrolyzed gelatin before since most forms of gelatin function identically. Hydrolyzed gelatin is not actually anything special and is only a type of gelatin produced in a specific manner. Hydrolyzed gelatin is created when normal gelatin is subjected to hydrolysis. Hydrolysis is a chemical process by which bonds are broken with water molecules, altering the chemical structure.
This usually destroys the original substance and transforms it into something else, but with gelatin, the process actually makes it more beneficial for us. Traditional gelatin has strong protein chains that can be difficult for our bodies to process, but the enzymes used in hydrolysis break up the protein chains and make it easier for us to digest. As a result, hydrolyzed gelatin is easier to dissolve in hot or cold liquids, often dissolving instantly.
Hydrolyzed gelatin is more commonly used in other foods and drinks because it can be broken down more easily and mixed with other ingredients. Therefore, it is more malleable and a more agreeable ingredient in foods that are harder to produce or shape. Unfortunately, the hydrolysis process is not as simple to perform at home as producing normal gelatin. Collagen hydrolysis is performed through one of 3 methods:
The alkali method is generally reserved for more complex collagen enzymes, typically from bovine matter. Gelatin synthesized from acid-treated materials is called type-A gelatin, whereas alkali-treated gelatin is called type-B. Either way, they are all variants of hydrolyzed gelatin. The question of the hour is: What are the benefits of gelatin?
What Are the Benefits of Gelatin?
Regardless of whether gelatin is hydrolyzed or not, the substance does have benefits for our biology and physiology. With enough gelatin added to our daily intake, we can enhance certain aspects of our health. Gelatin is a rich source of nutrients that are often lost since it is used to manufacture several sweets.
You cannot expect to experience major health benefits if you are eating bags of marshmallows regularly. Independently, gelatin contains several amino acids that synergize with our biology and promote healthy function. The most abundant amino acids in gelatin are:
- Glycine: Glycine accounts for 27% of the amino acids in mammals.
- Proline: Proline accounts for 16% of the amino acids in mammals.
- Valine: Valine accounts for 14% of the amino acids in mammals.
- Hydroxyproline: Hydroxyproline accounts for 14% of the amino acids in mammals.
- Glutamic Acid: Glutamic acid accounts for 11% of the amino acids in mammals.
Additionally, gelatin is 98-99% protein, providing a substantial amount of nutrition that possibly rivals certain meats. That said, the nutritional value of gelatin is not its only advantage. Gelatin's glycine concentration is incredibly important since glycine is a critical amino acid for our biology. Without glycine, our health would plummet, and we would be more susceptible to certain ailments.
One of the most surprising advantages of gelatin is that it seems to provide mild protection against degenerative conditions that affect the joints and bones. Specifically, research indicates that gelatin can serve as a treatment avenue for osteoarthritis, one of the most devastating degenerative conditions in the world.
One study focused on 80 individuals with osteoarthritis and divided them into test and control groups. The subjects in the test group were given a gelatin supplement, while those in the control group received a placebo. The study lasted for 70 days and determined that the subjects in the test group had reduced symptoms of pain and stiffness induced by their condition. This demonstrated gelatin's effects on a condition known to cause serious pain. Another study, this time with 97 subjects, performed a similar experiment over 24 weeks and discovered the same result as the other.
Gelatin's abilities to tend to the effects of osteoarthritis are extremely impressive, but there are other benefits that reinforce its significance. The next major benefit afforded by gelatin is how it impacts our appearance and the health of our surface layers. Hair and skin are 2 of the biggest concerns in the cosmetic world, with the latter also being a major health concern.
Unfortunately, both deteriorate with age, and we lose more hair while our skin becomes wrinkled and damaged. For the most part, these are natural side effects of the aging process and do not present a major threat to our health. Unfortunately, there are exceptions to this standard that make maintaining our skin a crucial part of basic healthcare.
Gelatin's benefits for hair and skin were assessed by a study conducted on women suffering from dry or wrinkled skin. The women were divided into test and control groups, with the former being given the key ingredient of gelatin (collagen) as a supplement. Conversely, the control group received a placebo to compare the results.
This study only lasted 8 weeks, but the women in the test group had a 28% increase in overall skin moisture after consuming a supplement derived from pork matter. A secondary test group was given the same ingredient but synthesized from fish instead of pork, and they had a 12% increase in skin moisture.
You might be curious about why a collagen study impacts gelatin's viability as a supplement. The answer to this question is that collagen is the protein from which all gelatin is created. Most of gelatin's benefits are derived from the collagen used to create it, but an important question remains.
What Are the Benefits of Hydrolyzed Gelatin?
Considering the extra effort to make gelatin via hydrolysis, you might assume it provides more potent effects than its counterpart. Unfortunately, this is not the case since hydrolysis does not enhance the core nutrients of gelatin (or collagen). Hydrolysis is a method to synthesize certain compounds, meaning it does not significantly impact the core compounds unless the acid, enzyme, or alkali you use reacts with collagen.
While the end result does not have any additional nutrients or compounds that enhance the effects of gelatin, there is one additional advantage. Rather than saturate the nutrients or make the benefits more pronounced, hydrolysis weakens the protein chains. As mentioned, lengthy protein chains can be difficult for the body to process and extend the time to absorb the effects completely.
Hydrolyzed gelatin is easier for the body to absorb and is, therefore, faster. This is not to say that hydrolyzed gelatin is an instant dispersal product since we still need to digest hydrolyzed gelatin before we can absorb it. Nevertheless, the ease of absorption means we should experience the effects faster. Additionally, hydrolyzed gelatin is easier to use overall since it is more malleable than its traditional counterpart and can be implemented into recipes more easily.
For example, normal gelatin can only be dissolved in hot water since the gel is thicker and requires energy to be broken down. Conversely, hydrolyzed gelatin is less dense and can break down whenever additional water molecules are introduced.
The advantages of hydrolyzed gelatin are limited to ease of use rather than any major enhancements to the substance's composition. The biggest issue is that gelatin is ultimately a weaker and semi-damaged offshoot of collagen. The main power of gelatin lies in the collagen used to make it, and the process actually burns off some of the collagen's nutrients. Gelatin can be effective if you do not need a particularly powerful supplement for your situation. However, sticking to pure collagen might be the better call if you need heavy-duty supplementation.
Keep It All Natural!
Gelatin has a surprising range of skincare benefits, but when you consider collagen the main ingredient, it becomes more believable. The effects are easier to enjoy if the gelatin is hydrolyzed, but hydrolyzed gelatin has little advantage over normal gelatin. While gelatin can be a viable tool for improving your skin's health, nothing will ever beat pure collagen.
Collagen provides the same benefits as gelatin but more efficiently and without diluting from the conversion process. Finding a collagen supplement might seem challenging, but it is usually one of the easiest resources to acquire if you can find a reliable vendor.
We at Bella All Natural believe that natural substances are the best for skincare and healthcare, which is why they are our focus. We offer several products designed to improve your health and appearance without unnecessary chemicals. Insofar as gelatin is concerned, we do not have any to offer, but we can provide a highly effective collagen supplement. Our Collagen Powder provides your daily dose and comes in either strawberry or watermelon flavors. We highly encourage you to visit our website and try our product directly, but no matter what your decision ends up being, always remember to keep it All Natural!