What Is Gelatin and Why Should You Eat It?

First things first.

What is Gelatin?

Gelatin is a culinary ingredient used in home and professional kitchens for both sweet and savory dishes.

It is made from animal bones and completely flavorless, and when cooled, it thickens to a jelly-like substance. At the grocery store, you’ll find it in packets, as powdered gelatin, which, when mixed with hot water, serves as the gelatinous base for gelatin products such as fruit gelatin dessert (also known as Jell-O), gummy bears, marshmallows, some cream cheeses, ice creams, and dips. It also acts as a thickener for savory sauces and soups.

Gelatin has a host of unique health benefits and is the main constituent of bone broth, an increasingly popular food among holistic health aficionados and paleo eaters. In a well-cooked batch of bone broth, it’s gelatin that causes the liquid to gel once it cools in the refrigerator. We know that bone broth claims a host of health benefits – how many of those benefits stem directly from its gelatin content? Let’s break it down.

Is Gelatin the Same as Collagen?

A quick Google search will reveal a number of different answers to this question, so we’ll try to simplify it as much as possible with some brief definitions.

Collagen is a structural protein in all animals and is the most plentiful protein in the body. It’s required for healthy bones, hair, skin, and nails, and plays a role in forming just about every type of animal tissue. In its raw form, collagen isn’t ideal for consumption – think chicken gristle – and needs to be processed before we can enjoy eating it.

Gelatin is a processed form of collagen. We say that well-made bone broth is full of gelatin because the process of boiling animal bones for a long period of time breaks the collagen down into gelatin. Make sense? So while they aren’t exactly the same substance, you can’t really have gelatin without collagen. Think of gelatin as the processed form of raw animal collagen. We’ll use these two terms interchangeably throughout this post.

Note: You may have seen collagen hydrolysate or hydrolyzed collagen in the protein powder section of your local health foods store. This form of collagen is even further processed, which we know can be a bit confusing. If you’d like to learn more about this type of collagen, check out our post that explains it all.

Building Blocks of Gelatin: Amino Acids

Gelatin is made up of over 20 key amino acids, the most plentiful of which are glycine, proline, alanine, arginine, and hydroxyproline (a metabolite of proline) (1). While all of these amino acids are the building blocks of protein in our bodies, they also each contain unique health benefits.

  • Glycine has been shown to offer gut-healing benefits, improve sugar metabolism, and increase the production of gastric acids during digestion (2, 3).
  • Proline is critical in the construction of a healthy skin matrix, wound healing, and relieving joint pain. When combined with vitamin C, it metabolizes into a more useful form, called hydroxyproline. While both of these are considered non-essential amino acids (meaning that the body can make them on its own), it’s difficult for the body to produce sufficient amounts without eating adequate protein or supplementing (3).
  • Alanine is used in medical treatment of low blood sugar and in preventing hypoglycemia overnight, and while there’s insufficient evidence as yet, it’s also potentially helpful in ameliorating diarrhea-related dehydration, stress, fatigue, and other conditions (4).
  • Arginine offers a number of healing properties. It can improve heart conditions by relaxing and opening arteries, promotes wound healing, facilitates kidney detoxification, and maintains hormonal and immune function (5).

Gelatin and Gut Health

We mentioned that glycine has a positive effect on digestion and gut health, but studies show that gelatin as a whole offers anti-inflammatory properties, especially in the gut lining (6). The GI tract plays a critical role in a healthy immune system. To adequately fight off invaders, the body produces cytokines – proinflammatory compounds that aid in killing off harmful microbes. But when the body is out of balance, these compounds can become too plentiful, setting off a cascade of harmful inflammation that ends up doing more bad than good.

We know that inflammation is implicated in a host of diseases, both in the digestive tract and throughout the body, so keeping inflammation in check is critical to good health. Gelatin has been shown to inhibit proinflammatory molecules like cytokines, protecting the gut from inflammatory bowel conditions and the rest of our bodies from allergies, autoimmunity, and other inflammation-related diseases (6).

Gelatin and Skin Health

Ingesting gelatin can have both direct and indirect effects on skin health. We know that, as we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen, which can mean a number of things for our outward appearance and internal health. Collagen is responsible for skin suppleness and elasticity, so as it diminishes, our skin begins to sag and wrinkle. You’ve likely seen makeup and skincare products tout the benefits of collagen in their products, but unfortunately, there’s no evidence that topical use has any effect on skin health. Ingesting collagen, however, can increase naturally occuring gelatin and collagen in the body.

We’ve also mentioned gut health a number of times, and there’s a well-established connection between gut health and skin health. Many skin disorders, including acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis (the last of which is an autoimmune disease – a result of excessive inflammation) can be improved or ameliorated with a gut-healing protocol. Therefore, using gelatin for gut health can have a direct impact on skin health.

Vegetarian Gelatin?

As you might have guessed by now, there is no vegetarian source of collagen or gelatin. In the kitchen, however, there are some adequate gelatin substitutes, such as agar agar and apple pectin. Agar agar is derived from algae and is used in desserts and Japanese cooking, while apple pectin (or pectin from other fruits) is used to thicken jellies and jams. Neither of these gelatin alternatives provides comparable health benefits to gelatin derived from animal parts, but they create similar culinary effects when used properly.

If you’re vegetarian, the most effective way to reap the benefits of gelatin is to maximize your body’s ability to make its own collagen. Eat foods rich in the building blocks of collagen, such as dairy products, eggs, leafy greens (like kale), beans, peppers, citrus, broccoli, and beans, just to name a few.

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Art Therapy: How Creating Art Helps to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Although art therapy is its own field, you can use art to express your creative side, manage and relieve stress, and get in touch with your own feelings. Some people believe young children were aware of this instinctively. When you think about it, it makes sense. Just remember the joy of sculpting something with clay […]

The blog post Art Therapy: How Creating Art Helps to Reduce Stress and Anxiety was originally published to: Wellness Geeky

Art Therapy: How Creating Art Helps to Reduce Stress and Anxiety syndicated from http://wellnessgeeky.blogspot.com/

What Are Ketones? The Complete Guide to Ketones and Their Impact on Your Health

With the growing interest in low carbohydrate diets, the word “keto” has seen an exponential spike in Google searches over the past year (1). There are many misconceptions surrounding keto—mainly that it’s a natural, metabolic process.

Each individual has ketones in their blood. Certain diet and lifestyle practices can make your ketone levels go up or down. Below, you’ll learn exactly what ketones are, how they affect your overall health, and how to test your ketone levels.

What Are Ketones?

Ketones are chemicals made by the liver. Everyone has ketones in their blood—no matter how many carbs you do (or do not) consume (2).

The Relationship Between Ketones and Glucose

Blood glucose (also called blood sugar) is your body’s preferred energy source. When you eat food, the pancreas releases insulin. Insulin enters the bloodstream, ensuring glucose gets transported to the cells for energy (3).

What does this have to do with ketones? When glucose is not readily available, your body will start burning ketones—rather than glucose—for energy (2). This is the metabolic state known as ketosis.

What Are the Different Types of Ketones?

There are three different types of ketones in your body. The two main ketone bodies are  beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate. Acetone is the third, most scarce acetone in your body (2).

  • Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB): BHB is the most common keto body found in the blood. BHB makes up nearly 78% of the total ketone bodies in your bloodstream (4).
  • Acetoacetate (AcAc): AcAc is the second most prevalent ketone in your blood, making up about 20% of total ketones (4).
  • Acetone: Acetone is the simplest and most scarce ketone body, making up only 2% of total ketones. It’s created as a side product of acetoacetate (4).

How Are Ketone Bodies Formed?

Ketogenesis is the metabolic process that creates ketone bodies. Ketogenesis is constantly happening—no matter your diet, your body is always producing small amounts of ketone bodies (5). Insulin helps regulate ketone production.

Fatty acids are transformed into ketones in the liver. First, the fatty acids are transformed into the acetoacetate. Acetoacetate, in turn, can turn into either beta-hydroxybutyrate or acetone. Acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate are the two main ketone bodies used for energy (5).

From Ketogenesis to Ketosis

When glucose reserves (glycogen) is completely used up (or there’s a surplus of fatty acids), the body turns to fat metabolism to meet its energy needs—the process known as ketosis. This signals the liver to start producing even more ketone bodies for energy (6). This is usually caused by going on an extremely low carb diet (like the keto diet), after exercise, or through intermittent fasting.

The Benefits of Using Ketones as an Energy Source

Ketosis—the process of using ketones as an alternative fuel source—has been linked to a wide variety of health benefits. This is what made the keto diet (dramatically reducing carbohydrates to force your body into switching from burning glucose to burning ketones) so popular. Ketosis helps individuals lose weight, improve blood sugar levels, and even improve neurological conditions.

Ketones for Weight Loss

The idea behind the keto diet is burning fat cells (rather than sugar) for energy. In one study, keto was found to be a more efficient weight-loss strategy than the low-glycemic diet (where you avoid foods that cause a blood sugar spike). Those who followed keto lost an incredible 24 pounds more than those in the low-glycemic group (7).

Ketones to Improve Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Levels

Ketosis has been shown to help improve cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels. In a 2004 study, a group of obese individuals lost a considerable amount of weight, decreased HDL (bad) cholesterol, increased LDL (good) cholesterol, decreased blood glucose levels, and decreased triglyceride levels—all in a matter of 24 weeks (8).

Ketones to Help With Neurological Conditions

Ketosis first gained widespread attention for its positive effects on patients diagnosed with epilepsy, greatly reducing the patients’ number of seizures (9). While the brain typically uses glucose, studies show that ketone bodies are an effective energy source, helping to improve memory and prevent Alzheimer’s (10). In fact, higher ketone levels can help improve your memory in as little as six weeks (11).

Are Ketones Safe for Everyone?

Again, everyone produces ketones safely and naturally. Using ketones for energy (ketosis) has been connected to a wide variety of health benefits—both mental and physical—for the vast majority of people. But for a small percentage of the population, those with Type 1 diabetes, a surplus of ketones in the blood can pose a health risk.

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a rare, but serious condition caused by the overproduction of ketone bodies. Since it’s caused by insulin resistance, DKA is most common in those with Type 1 diabetes, although it can occur in those with Type 2 diabetes as well (5). BHB and acetoacetate are acidic in large amounts, and the surplus can cause dehydration, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

Ketone Supplements (Exogenous Ketones): Are They For Real?

The growing popularity of ketogenic diets has caused an interest in keto supplements. Exogenous ketones are man-made ketones which are marketed to help individuals get into ketosis faster. But is there any science behind their claims?

The NIH has conducted several studies on exogenous ketones, and find they are an effective way to get into ketosis (12)(13)(14). But there’s a catch: Some exogenous ketones are proven to help people enter ketosis; others simply contain ketones on the label.

How do you know which is which? Effective, exogenous ketones will contain BHB—the most common ketone body found in your blood. Ketone supplements which make false claims, namely raspberry ketones, do not contain ketone bodies. Raspberry ketones are marketed to raise adiponectin levels (a hormone that helps burn fat), but studies have yet to prove they actually raise ketone levels in the blood (15).

How to Test Your Ketone Levels

Since ketone bodies are found in the blood and ketosis is a metabolic process, you can test your ketone levels. People test their ketone levels to see if a low carb diet, ketone supplements, or other methods are successful in helping them get into ketosis (or, if they are Type 1 diabetic, to see if ketone bodies have reached dangerous levels).

There are three ways to test your ketone levels: urine testing, blood testing, and breath testing. Urine test strips are known to be ineffective as they test excess ketones excreted from the body. Breath tests, using a breath meter, are slightly more effective, but test your acetone levels—the least commonly used acetone in your body.

For the most accurate test, use a blood test. Blood tests involve pricking your finger with a blood meter, measuring the amount of BHB in the blood.

Recap: Ketones and the Impact They Have on Your Health

Everyone has small amounts of ketones in their blood at all times. There are three types of ketone bodies, BHB, acetoacetate, and acetone, with BHB being the most prevalent. When the body is starved of carbohydrates, it will switch from burning glucose to ketones for energy.

Burning ketones for fuel (ketosis) has been shown to help individuals lose weight, improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and improve brain function. However, for a small group of individuals diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, high ketone levels can have negative side effects.

To raise the levels of ketones your body naturally produces, you can follow an extremely high-fat, low carbohydrate diet (the keto diet), experiment with intermittent fasting, or try supplementing with exogenous ketones. Check out this guide to fasting or the Comprehensive Guide to Keto to get started.

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Intermittent Fasting Benefits and Intermittent Fasting Results, According to Science

Intermittent fasting is becoming increasingly popular in health and wellness circles, due to the cognitive and physiological benefits it can produce. Individuals claim intermittent fasting helps them lose weight, sleep more soundly, and concentrate better.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting? What physical and mental results have been reported? And is there any scientific backing to the growing number of claims?

Below you’ll learn about intermittent fasting results for mental and physical health across a wide number of studies.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is the practice of restricting your eating window to a certain amount of time (i.e. 8 hours), then not eating for the remaining hours of the day. The length of the fast varies from person to person, lasting from 16 to 48 hours at a time. The frequency varies as well, with some people choosing to fast on the same day each week (common for a 24-hour fast) or daily (typical for a 16-hour fast).

Proponents of intermittent fasting say it’s a natural biological process. Every person practices a moderate fast on a daily basis, from the moment they go to bed to the time they eat breakfast — intermittent fasting simply extends the time period.

The idea behind fasting is this: Humans were meant to hunt and gather their food, going long periods of time without eating. Only in very recent history could humans simply walk to the grocery store whenever hunger hit. This goes against the conventional wisdom of eating three square meals a day, or even six small meals, popular in weightlifting and bodybuilding circles (1).

Intermittent Fasting Benefits

Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight

The most well-known benefit of intermittent fasting is weight loss. In one study done by the NIH, 84 percent of participants who tried intermittent fasting lost weight — no matter the approach (2). Individuals experimented with alternate-day fasting, 16-hour fasts, and other methods, and still lost weight.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to be as effective for weight loss as continuous calorie restriction (3). Some studies show intermittent fasting is more effective at preserving lean muscle mass (compared to calorie restriction) when losing weight. This results in a greater loss in body fat and improved body composition (4).

Finally, intermittent fasting appears to be an excellent tool for losing belly fat. In one study, intermittent fasting for just six weeks showed an increase in metabolism, resulting in a loss of belly fat (5).

Intermittent Fasting Could Help You Preserve Muscle Mass

High levels of the human growth hormone helps build muscle and aid in fat burning (6). Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase levels of this hormone, helping to gain lean muscle mass (7).

Compared with other weight loss strategies, a fasting diet helps to prevent muscle loss (8). Other diets which aim to preserve muscle while burning fat, like high-protein diets, show similar success in lowering the individual’s overall BMI. However, intermittent fasting was shown to be more effective at keeping weight off for the long term (9).

Intermittent Fasting Provides Mental Health Benefits

Proponents of intermittent fasting believe humans went thousands of years where food was not readily available. Therefore, they adapted to mentally functioning at a high level, all while in a food-deprived state (10).

Research by Mark Mattson of Johns Hopkins shows intermittent fasting can improve brain health, preventing Alzheimer’s, improving memory, and boosting your mood (11). Lab tests showed that two-day fasts improved neural connections in the hippocampus while protecting neurons against amyloid plaques, believed to be a cause of Alzheimer’s (12).

When you fast, you reduce the glycogen stores in your body, forcing your body to burn ketones (fat stores) for fuel. This has been shown to benefit brain function — it improves memory and learning function, and slows down diseases of the brain (13).

Intermittent Fasting Results

Intermittent Fasting Can Decrease Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes

Over 29 million Americans have diabetes — 25 percent of which aren’t aware they have the disease (14). Heart disease is the biggest killer in the United States, causing one in every four deaths. Like high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol, diabetes puts people at a greater risk of developing heart disease (15).

Intermittent fasting has been shown to prevent Type 2 diabetes, thereby decreasing an individual’s cardiovascular risk. It reduces inflammation, improves fasting glucose levels, decreases insulin resistance, decreases oxidative stress, and reduces blood pressure — all indicators of heart disease (16). One study showed that intermittent fasting was as effective at improving fasting insulin and insulin sensitivity as restricting calorie intake (16).

Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Live Longer

Weight loss, improved insulin levels, and decreased blood sugar levels (just a few health benefits of intermittent fasting) will increase your lifespan. Studies show that intermittent fasting will prolong your life more than other practices that offer these same benefits. For example, animal studies show that intermittent fasting prolonged lifespan more than exercise (17).  Another study done on rats showed alternate-day fasts increased the lifespan by 83 percent compared the consuming same amount of calories each day (18).

In human studies, intermittent fasting has been shown to extend longevity by improving your stress resistance and reducing obesity, hypertension, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, fasting can help slow the aging process (19).

Intermittent Fasting Can Help Prevent Cancer

In 2018 alone, roughly 1.7 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer (20). In animal studies, alternate-day fasts increased the survival rate of rats with tumors (21). Other studies showed that intermittent fasting greatly reduced the onset of lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) (22).

Fasting might also help improve the negative side effects of chemotherapy (22). Patients who underwent chemotherapy while practicing intermittent fasting noticed reduced fatigue, weakness, and gastrointestinal side effects (23).

Recap: Health Benefits and Proven Results of Intermittent Fasting

While intermittent fasting is known for being an effective weight loss tool, science has shown a wide range of other health benefits. These amazing results range from mental to physical, helping individuals:

  • Lose weight
  • Improve their BMI and maintain muscle mass
  • Decrease their risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
  • Live longer

Some of the available research backing these claims have only been done on animals, but the number of human studies continues to grow. Given the number of studies, intermittent fasting is a great tool for living a long, healthy life.

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The Best Diet for IBS: Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Food

If you constantly feel bloated, gassy, and uncomfortable, IBS could be to blame.

The symptoms of IBS are anything but desirable. Luckily, most individuals can greatly reduce their symptoms on their own. The most effective treatment options is to follow an elimination diet for IBS, in which you remove specific foods for a set period of time.

But what foods should you eliminate? And which elimination diets have proved to be most effective? Below, you’ll learn more about IBS, the causes and symptoms, and what foods to eliminate when seeking relief.

What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects your gut. The most common health issues associated with IBS include stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating caused from inflammation of the large intestine, or GI tract (1). As many as one in five people experience IBS, which can be triggered by stress, certain foods, or alcohol (2).

While the exact cause is unknown, many individuals with IBS have found relief by changing their diet. Some people find that eating more fiber, going gluten-free, taking probiotics, or following a special diet called the FODMAPS diet can improve their symptoms (1).

Starting an Elimination Diet: Foods that Trigger IBS

If you know the signs and symptoms of IBS all too well, a particular food group may be to blame. There’s growing evidence that certain foods like alcohol, caffeine, gluten, spicy foods, and lactose can cause symptoms to flare up.

Roughly two-thirds of IBS sufferers say specific foods cause IBS symptoms (3). Therefore, the most common treatment option is an elimination diet — the process of removing various foods, then slowly reintroducing them one by one in order to gauge whether symptoms return.

Below are some of the most common foods you should eliminate to prevent IBS.

Alcohol

If you suffer from IBS, you may want to set down the glass of wine. Alcohol is no friend to your gastrointestinal tract. It makes your gut lining more permeable, preventing the absorption of nutrients (3).

Coffee

If your morning cup of coffee has ever left you with an upset stomach or morning jitters, it may be contributing to your IBS (4). Coffee — particularly caffeinated coffee — increases stomach acid. In a study of 330 IBS patients, coffee ranked as one of the top ten foods to trigger symptoms (5).

It’s still unclear whether it’s the coffee or caffeine that causes IBS symptoms. Some individuals find that eliminating other foods that contain caffeine — like chocolate — improve their symptoms.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods have a certain ingredient called capsaicin which can trigger IBS symptoms. Capsaicin is found in chili peppers, and is often blamed for the burning and stomach pain some people experience when eating spicy foods (3).

Fiber

At one point, increasing your fiber intake was thought to help IBS symptoms, but this advice has since been reversed. While there are still conflicting studies, it’s believed that it’s not all fiber, but certain fibrous foods, that could cause symptoms to flare up.

There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables, while insoluble fiber is found in wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. Increasing soluble fiber while decreasing the intake of insoluble fiber is thought to be the best way to treat symptoms (6).

Dairy

Dairy is often blamed for a host of digestive problems. Lactose is the sugar in dairy, causing digestive issues in many adults. It’s still unclear if the bloating and stomach pain caused by eating dairy is actually IBS or simply a side effect of lactose intolerance, but it’s still worth eliminating for a period of time to see how your body reacts (7).

FODMAPs

FODMAPS, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, are a group of foods most commonly blamed for IBS symptoms. FODMAP foods contain a short-chain carbohydrate that’s present in garlic, wheat, legumes, dairy, vegetables, and fruit. They can pass straight through the colon without being absorbed, increasing the amount of water in the colon. Gut bacteria causes then causes fermentation, causing stomach bloat (3).

The Low FODMAP Diet for Treating IBS

Of all the foods that reportedly cause IBS symptoms, eliminating FODMAPs seems to the most effective strategy. In one study, over 75 percent of participants reported reduced symptoms after eliminating FODMAPs from their diet (8).

Following a low FODMAP can be tricky, as it doesn’t involve the elimination of entire food groups. Instead, you’ll eliminate specific foods across vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy products, while still enjoying others. For a detailed guide on how to start the low-FODMAP diet, read this post.

Foods to Eliminate on the FODMAP Diet

The following high FODMAP foods should be eliminated (3):

  • Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, avocado, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, fennel, garlic, leeks, mushrooms, shallots, okra, onions, peas
  • Fruit: Watermelon, apples, peaches, pears, mango, dried fruit, apricots, cherries, nectarines, plums
  • Grains: Wheat, rye
  • Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, baked beans
  • Dairy: Milk, yogurt, soft cheeses, ice cream
  • Sweeteners: Honey, high fructose corn syrup

Foods to Enjoy on the FODMAP Diet (3)

These low-FODMAP foods can be still enjoyed on your elimination diet:

  • Vegetables: Carrots, cucumber, potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, green beans, lettuce, spinach, chives, parsnip, pumpkin, green onion, tomatoes, zucchini, bok choy
  • Fruit: Bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mandarin oranges, raspberries, strawberries
  • Grains: Spelt, oats, rice, brown rice, quinoa
  • Legumes: Canned chickpeas
  • Dairy: Hard cheeses, butter, lactose-free milk
  • Sweeteners: Maple syrup, sugar

What’s the Best Diet for IBS?

It’s very difficult to pinpoint the worst foods for IBS symptoms, as results are different in controlled studies versus self-reported cases. So what should you do?

Try eliminating the foods listed above, then slowly reintroducing them to your diet. Monitor your changes in symptoms carefully. Do your symptoms return after a night out (and the glass of wine that goes with it)? Do you notice changes when switching from coffee to tea? Finally, does cooking with certain foods, like onions and garlic, cause a flare-up?

Everyone’s results are different. The most effective treatment option is the IBS diet that best improves your symptoms.

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Top 5 Beauty Benefits of Collagen (and How to Get More of It)

If there was only one nutrient we could recommend for younger, brighter skin (as well as healthier hair and nails), it would be collagen.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It’s found in bones and connective tissue. And while scraps from last night’s dinner may not sound overly beautifying, these parts contain nutrients and compounds that can help keep your skin plump and supple, prevent and improve cellulite, and help your hair and nails grow faster and healthier (1). Since one of collagen’s primary functions is to preserve skin firmness and elasticity, it’s also a major component in preventing fine lines and wrinkles. It can even help fight other signs of aging, such as arthritis and joint pain (2).

Let’s look closer at why collagen consumption is a must in your beauty routine.

Benefits of Collagen for Your Skin

1. Helps Reduce the Appearance of Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Top 5 Beauty Benefits of Collagen (And How To Get More of It)

Approximately 75 to 80 percent of your skin is made up of collagen (3). As the most important nutrient to skin health, you can think of it as the “glue” that holds your skin together. Your body naturally produces collagen. But as you age, your body’s ability to produce collagen decreases, and your collagen levels naturally decline (4). This is when fine lines and wrinkles can show up, and skin moisture and plumpness may begin to disappear due to loss of skin elasticity.

The beauty industry has recognized this fact, which is why many anti-aging skin creams and serums are made from collagen and certain amino acids. But there’s one problem: most collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed through the deeper dermal layers of your skin, which is where collagen production takes place. Therefore, collagen creams sit on top of your skin and may not be able to do much more than moisturize.

On the other hand, plenty of research shows the benefits of eating and drinking collagen. One recent study conducted on women ages 45 to 65 showed that taking collagen peptides as an oral collagen supplement had a significant improvement in eye wrinkles after only eight weeks — no Botox required (5).

2. Helps Heal Inflammatory Skin Conditions (Including Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis)

Top 5 Beauty Benefits of Collagen (And How To Get More of It)

If you suffer from inflammatory skin conditions (such as eczema, acne, or psoriasis), collagen may help reduce the pain, frequency, and severity of flare ups — and there are a few reasons for this.

First, collagen contains several important amino acids, such as proline and glycine, which can help reduce inflammation from the inside out (6). Second, collagen acts as a “glue” for the intestinal wall and helps “heal and seal” the gut lining. Collagen is often recommended to improve chronic digestive health conditions, such as leaky gut syndrome, because it may help coat your digestive tract. This is relevant because skin issues are a sign of compromised gut health.

For hundreds of years, doctors of traditional Chinese medicine have said that your skin is like a mirror for what’s going on inside your body — particularly in your digestive system. This link is called the gut-skin axis, and it’s why so many chronic digestive conditions, such as candida, leaky gut, gut dysbiosis, and SIBO all have inflammatory skin issues listed as potential symptoms (7).

By improving your gut health, collagen can simultaneously improve your skin’s appearance from the inside out.

3. Helps Prevent Cellulite and Stretch Marks

Top 5 Beauty Benefits of Collagen (And How To Get More of It)

Oh, cellulite. It’s something many women seem to encounter at some point in their lives — whether it’s with age, pregnancy, or a sudden weight gain or loss. And it can be one tough cookie to get rid of.

The reason why cellulite appears in the first place is due to your skin losing elasticity and becoming too thin. This can happen as a result of genetics, hormonal fluctuations, age, and (you guessed it), as collagen production declines throughout your entire body (8).

We love how health expert Ben Greenfield explains it:

“If your collagen isn’t formed properly or becomes damaged, then that connective tissue can become too thin or full of holes, and the fat underneath your skin can poke through in that unsightly, lumpy fashion that we affectionately refer to as cellulite. You can think about it this way: Collagen is like a paper bag and the fat is like the groceries inside that paper bag. If the bag gets damaged, wet, or stretched too thin, all the groceries can bulge out.” (9)

Collagen may help reduce the appearance of faint stretch marks, which occur when the elastic fibers of your skin are pulled too quickly or beyond what your skin’s elasticity can currently handle (for example, after a rapid weight gain or loss, or after giving birth).

When your skin is stretched this way, it can cause permanent damage to what’s called the elastic fiber network in the dermal layer of your skin. This damage stops collagen synthesis from taking place, which makes it near impossible to repair the stretch marks in your skin (10). But research suggests collagen skin creams and topical treatments may not be the way to stimulate new collagen production, as there’s no legitimate research to back their effectiveness (11).

Instead, incorporating collagen supplementation in your diet, and consuming nutrients that help boost collagen production (such as vitamin C), are effective, natural ways to stimulate collagen production at the cellular level.

4. Helps Speed Up Wound Healing

Whether you’ve had a recent breakout or suffered a few scrapes and bruises from Crossfit, collagen has been shown to play a key role in all phases of wound healing. It can also help reduce the inflammation associated with wounds and injuries (12)(13). Part of the reason collagen is so powerful for healing wounds is because it contains arginine, an amino acid that’s needed to help restore damaged muscle tissue (14). If you are an athlete, the proline in collagen can also greatly improve joint health.

5. Promotes Healthy Hair and Nails

Top 5 Beauty Benefits of Collagen (And How To Get More of It)

While collagen promotes the greatest side effects for skin, as a protein it also provides the building blocks for shiny, healthy hair growth and stronger nails. In fact, it’s said that increasing the protein in your diet through collagen can also help prevent split ends and give your hair a thicker, shinier, silkier texture (15).

How to Get More Collagen Into Your Diet

Getting more collagen into your diet is as simple as sipping on and cooking with bone broth.

Since we don’t exactly chow down on bones and ligaments, we can access the collagen they contain by boiling them into a broth. The collagen and gelatin from bones and tissue are released when they are simmered for 10 to over 20 hours, so collagen is easy for you to digest and absorb right away. You can easily make bone broth at home, or if you’re short on time, you can always buy some.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to get creative with collagen in the kitchen:

Kettle & Fire Collagen Recipes

From the left to the right:

Of course, you can also boost your collagen intake with collagen powder. You could also substitute your protein powder for collagen protein, also known as collagen hydrolysate or hydrolyzed collagen. However it’s important to be aware of the differences between bone broth powder and liquid. Many powder processing methods are questionable, and you’ll want to be sure they’re from an organic or grass-fed source (the better the bone health, the more nutrient rich the collagen will be).

Can You Eat Gelatin Instead of Collagen?

Gelatin

In short, yes.

You may have heard of gelatin as a beauty nutrient — and the terms collagen and gelatin are often used interchangeably. While they have identical nutrient profiles (which means they can both offer the same benefits for your skin, hair, and nails) collagen and gelatin are not the same thing.

The main difference between collagen and gelatin comes down to how they’re processed. Gelatin is what you end up with when bones and tissue are cooked down to become digestible. It’s the “gel” you see on top of bone broth. Gelatin powder is also formed during a process called partial hydrolysis.

Collagen peptides are powdered collagen supplements made of gelatin that has been processed more aggressively during hydrolysis, which forms smaller molecules. The benefit of taking collagen peptides is that they’re said to be easier to digest.

For a more in-depth look at the differences between collagen and gelatin, here’s everything you need to know.

Reap the Benefits of Collagen

As you can see, the nutrients you eat are just as important to your beauty routine (if not more important) as the cleansers, moisturizers, and toners you use. And you can fully receive the collagen benefits when you regularly add it to your diet. Whether it’s through a delicious soup recipe, a bone broth cocktail, or even as a replacement for your morning coffee, there are plenty of simple ways to drink your collagen every day.

What if you could prevent cellulite and stretch marks, heal acne, and fight signs of aging? The beauty benefits of collagen can offer all of that and more.

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Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth Recipe

If you haven’t heard about bone broth’s healing powers we’re here to fill you in! Bone marrow and minerals, which you can access by simmering bones with water and vegetables for a long time in a stockpot or slow cooker, contain a multitude of health-boosting components. You’ll never regret keeping a tried-and-true bone broth recipe on hand for when you need a boost of energy, gut-healing collagen, or extra nutrition.

We’ll share one of our favorite bone broth recipes with you, but first let’s discuss the amazing health benefits of bone broth.

The Healing Benefits of Bone Broth

When you drink bone broth, whether homemade or by adding it to soups and other recipes, the slow cooking process is what draws out the healing nutrients. You’ll feed your body nutrients including collagen, marrow, amino acids, minerals, glycine, and gelatin, all of which can support optimal health. Here’s an overview of the specific health benefits bone broth provides.

Heals the Gut

Collagen and gelatin have been shown to heal the gut lining — which is exactly what you need to heal leaky gut (1). By supporting your digestive tract with these nutrients, you can also heal and prevent other conditions that stem from compromised digestive health. Leaky gut it can lead to chronic illnesses, diseases, and respiratory allergies, since approximately 70% of immune system cells are found in the gut (2).

Boosts the Immune System

Bone broth has been used around the world for centuries as a treatment for colds, coughs, and other health issues. Bone broth contains several essential vitamins and minerals in high concentrations, which makes it like a drinkable vitamin. One of these minerals is zinc, a powerful antioxidant, which is crucial for normal development and function of cells and has been shown to decrease infections (3).

Reduces Inflammation

Bone broth is highly anti-inflammatory thanks to its amino acid profile. In addition to glycine, bone broth also contains proline, arginine, and glutamine, which all help reduce chronic inflammation (4)(5). You must prevent inflammation to prevent cardiovascular disease, age-related disease and other chronic illnesses (6). Bone broth’s anti-inflammatory properties may reduce the frequency and severity of joint pain flare-ups.

Supports Joint Health

The ligaments and connective tissue found in bone broth recipes provide large amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties that help repair the skin and joints. Bone broth also contains collagen, which has immune-boosting properties and contains the amino acids proline and glycine, all of which are key to combating joint pain and speeding up injury recovery (7).

Improves Sleep

Bone broth may be the perfect nighttime sleep elixir for a variety of reasons. It’s an essential source of magnesium, which synthesizes proteins, transmits nerve signals, and relaxes the muscles to support restful sleep (8). Magnesium supplements are not always easily digested, which is why bone broth provides a great solution for relaxing right before bed. It can also help you stay asleep due to the amino acid glycine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brainstem and spinal cord (9). It’s the primary neurotransmitter that inhibits sleep cycle motor neurons during active sleep (10).

Aids Weight Loss

Bone broth recipes can support weight loss, particularly when you implement a bone broth diet. This diet cuts out problematic foods that can lead to weight gain and impaired digestion, like grains, refined sugar, and legumes. A bone broth diet replaces these foods with high-quality animal proteins and vegetables, and can also be combined with intermittent fasting.

Promotes Healthy Skin

Glowing skin is not only a result of the nutrients you eat, but how well you absorb them. You can’t absorb the nutrients you eat without having a healthy gut lining. Bone broth promotes optimal nutrient absorption, as the collagen and gelatin help heal and seal holes in the gut lining (11). A healthy gut allows your body to absorb the vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants you need for healthy skin. Collagen also plays a role in maintaining skin elasticity and preventing fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin (12).

Boosts Energy Levels

Forget your morning coffee! Thanks to its gut-healing properties, bone broth can also naturally increase your energy levels. By repairing the gut lining, you can improve your body’s ability to absorb the essential nutrients that are needed for energy production. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus all play an important role in oxygen transport and energy production (13). Once the minerals are released, they’re highly bioavailable — which means they’re easy to absorb, even with an impaired digestive system.

Here’s Kettle & Fire tried and true slow cooker beef bone broth recipe using high-quality, grass-fed bones for the ultimate nutrient-rich bone broth.

The Importance of Quality Ingredients

When we refer to bone broth and its benefits, we are not talking about the artificial broth powders that line your average grocery store shelf. These products contain zero nutritional value, and are often filled with questionable ingredients like MSG and artificial flavors. When we say bone broth, we’re talking about the real stuff: marrow-filled, collagen-packed, gelatin-rich, mineral-dense magic liquid.

Developing a Taste for Bone Broth

Bone broth is an acquired taste for some. If you’re new to drinking it, that first taste can come as a shock, especially if you’re used to a thin, salty soup stock. The good news is, you can learn to like it even if you don’t right away. The secret is teaching your taste buds that it’s not a bad thing. Add flavor with a dash of sea salt, black peppercorns, or bay leaves. You could also add it to an existing soup, or even mix into a smoothie!

Make Bone Broth at Home

If you’d like to try making homemade bone broth, there are plenty of simple bone broth recipes. Here’s our tried and true beef bone broth recipe. We recommend you use high-quality, grass-fed bones for the ultimate nutrient-rich broth. Roasting the bones before simmering them and tossing in some organic vegetables gives it even more flavor and nutrients. Feel free to add a dash of sea salt and black peppercorns for extra flavor before enjoying as well.

Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth Recipe

This is our tried and true beef bone broth recipe that you can make at home! 

  • 3-4 pounds mixed beef bones (marrow bones, oxtail, knuckles, short rib, etc.)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  1. Heat oven to 400°F.

  2. Spread the mixed bones on a baking tray in a single layer and place it into the oven. Roast the bones for 30 minutes. Flip bones and roast another 30 minutes.
  3. While the bones are roasting, chop the carrots, onions and celery. (You are discarding these later so a rough chop works great!)
  4. Place roasted bones, chopped vegetables, bay leaf and apple cider vinegar into a 6-quart crockpot. Cover completely with cold filtered water. (All the ingredients should be submerged by about 1 inch of water.)
  5. Cook on low for 24 hours. Add water as needed to keep all the ingredients covered in water, and periodically skim the foam off the top of the pot.
  6. After 24 hours, the broth should be a dark brown color. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer and discard the bones, vegetables and bay leaf.
  7. Before storing, pour into separate containers and cool to room temperature. Once cooled, chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Skim off the accumulated fat at the top of the container, if there’s any. Store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Gluten Free | Paleo | Whole30Approved

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Here’s Kettle & Fire tried and true slow cooker beef bone broth recipe using high-quality, grass-fed bones for the ultimate nutrient-rich bone broth.

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Here’s Kettle & Fire tried and true slow cooker beef bone broth recipe using high-quality, grass-fed bones for the ultimate nutrient-rich bone broth.

The post Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth Recipe appeared first on The Kettle & Fire Blog.