Many of our gallbladder patients struggle with getting enough protein and finding a source that will not cause gallbladder attacks, trigger an inflammatory response, or worsen their symptoms. Unfortunately, many protein-rich foods also come with fats that are often not tolerated by the body. Eggs, chicken, and pork are among the most common allergens, which we have specifically categorized under the restricted food list of our recommended Gallbladder Diet. Alternative protein sources for those with gallbladder diseases, food intolerances, and other related gastrointestinal conditions are cold-water fishes, Nutritional Yeast Flakes, and collagen and gelatin.
Collagen and gelatin are proteins widely used for food, medicine, and cosmetics because of their excellent qualities. They are biocompatible, which means that they do not produce toxic or immunological responses when exposed to the body or any living tissue. They also have weak antigenicity, so they won’t elicit an immune response when ingested – great news for those suffering from chronic inflammation, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. Collagen and gelatin protein are also biodegradable and easily absorbed by the body.
What is Collagen Protein?
Collagen is a protein found in humans’ and animals’ muscles, skin, bones, and connective tissues. It is the most abundant protein in the body, which holds all living tissues together and is associated with muscular growth, elasticity and regeneration of skin, and the integrity of joints and bones.
As we age, our natural collagen production declines, resulting in the slow deterioration of collagen fibers all over the body. Low collagen levels cause saggy and wrinkled skin, loss of cartilage, joint discomfort, bone loss, loss of muscle mass, and impaired mobility. It is widely believed that many chronic diseases are associated with the collagen protein either directly or indirectly.
Types of Collagen
There are approximately more than 28 different types of collagen. The most common are types 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10. Collagen is called by different names – hydrolyzed collagen, collagen hydrolysate, and collagen peptides. These three names refer to collagen that has passed through the hydrolysate process, which turns the protein into smaller pieces or shorter chain amino acids. These terms, however, are not the different types of collagen.
Type 1 collagen is the strongest and most abundant type of collagen protein present in the body. Over 90% of the collagen in the body belongs to this type. Type 1 collagen helps with the repair of damaged tissues, facilitates new tissue growth, and gives the skin its elastic quality. It also helps with wound healing and bone formation. It is synthesized by the body as a natural response to injury. Type 1 collagen is found in tendons, bones, skin tissues, and the gastrointestinal tract lining.
This collagen type is crucial for preventing age-related joint pain and arthritis. It is also beneficial for athletes whose joints are at risk of premature wear and tear. This type of collagen is primarily found in cartilages and tissues between bones, the eyes, the ears, and the nose. If you believe in the saying “eat what ails you,” then it might be worth it to load up on this type of collagen if you have painful joints or are experiencing arthritis.
This type of collagen is commonly seen alongside type 1, making it the second most abundant type. Type 3 collagen is found in the walls of arteries and other hollow organs. It is critical for developing and maintaining healthy cardiovascular tissues and blood vessels and is also important in the production of type 1 collagen structures.
Type 4 collagen is crucial in forming basal lamina, a thin layer of gel-like fluid that serves as a cushion for surrounding organs, muscles, and fat. The basal lamina also supports vascular function, digestion, respiration, and other systems. This collagen type also serves as part of the capillaries’ filtration system.
This type of collagen is most important during pregnancy or gestation as it is needed to make the surface of cells and fibril-structures (example: the corneal tissue and the hair). It is also essential in the production of other collagens.
Type 10 collagen helps with bone growth and the healing and formation of bone structures. This type of collagen is involved in endochondral ossification, the process of bone tissue creation.
- Bovine (cow) – Collagen from cows is the most common. It is a rich source of Types 1 and 3 collagen.
- Porcine (pig) – This collagen source is most similar to human collagen.
- Piscine (fish) – Collagen peptides from fish are the best and most effective in raising Type 1 and overall collagen levels in the body.
- Fowl (chicken) – This collagen source is the most effective for cartilage support. Type 2 collagen is often extracted and derived from chicken.
- Egg collagen – Collagen found in the membrane of eggshells and egg whites is rich with Type 1 collagen. It also has other collagen types like 3, 4, and 10.
How about the Gelatin Protein? What is it?
Gelatin is a part of broken-down collagen. It is an odorless, tasteless mixture of peptides and proteins produced from hydrolyzed collagen. Gelatin is from the same source as collagen, and although they have the same amino acid profile, they have different chemical properties.
Gelatin, just like collagen, has a lot of culinary and non-culinary uses. It is used to make glue and photography films. Pharmaceutical companies also use gelatin to help make easy-to-swallow gel capsules and hide the unpleasant taste and odors of some substances that need to be ingested. It is commonly found in fruit snacks, Jello, marshmallows, soups, and sauces or is used as a binder when baking.
Types of Gelatin
Gelatin comes in different varieties depending on the source. If you have dietary restrictions or religious and personal preferences, you must know the following types and their sources:
- Bovine – If you are looking for gelatin made from grass-fed cows, bovine is the way to go.
- Porcine – Porcine gelatin is primarily made from pigs’ hide and bones, making it cheaper than bovine. These pigs are fed a mixed diet.
- Isinglass – This gelatin type is rare but still available in selected places. It is sourced and extracted from the air bladders of the sturgeon fish.
- Agar-agar – Many vegans prefer this type of gelatin. Agar-agar, also known as Japanese gelatin, is a dried seaweed often used as a setting agent. It is available in powder, strands, or block forms. Agar is a low-calorie food with a small amount of protein and carbohydrates, but it is not a source of collagen.
- Carrageenan – This type of gelatin is also called Irish moss. It is derived from seaweed that is abundant in Ireland and is often used to make meads and homebrews. Just like agar-agar, it is a common gelatin alternative for vegans. However, it is not a good protein or collagen source.
- Pectin – jellies, jams, and preserves often use this type of gelatin. Pectin is a naturally occurring gel in fruits and vegetables. It is high in fiber and carbohydrates but does not provide protein or collagen to the body.
Collagen vs. Gelatin
In terms of health benefits, collagen and gelatin are relatively equal. However, the two have slight differences when it comes to digestibility and bioavailability.
7 Gelatin and Collagen Benefits
1. Supports Gut Health
Collagen and gelatin are known to support the gut’s healing process. Individuals suffering from a leaky gut may benefit from a regular dose of collagen and gelatin as they help restore the normal mucosal layer and strengthen the gut lining. This is primarily due to their glycine and proline amino acid content. Glycine has proven anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. On the other hand, Proline has the same gut-protecting and repairing effect. Regular intake of collagen and gelatin may also help prevent fluid retention and constipation. A healthy collagen intake may minimize digestive symptoms caused by inflammation.
2. Supports Liver Health
Glycine in collagen is a well-studied compound in the repair and maintenance of the liver. Studies have proven that glycine can be used to reduce alcohol and non-alcohol-induced liver damage. It also helps minimize the harmful effects of alcohol on the liver by improving alcohol metabolism in the stomach. Lastly, collagen helps detoxify the body, which indirectly assists the liver with its natural detox functions.
3. Supports Joint and Bone Health
Collagen and gelatin are widely known for their ability to ease symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Collagen is rich in calcium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus, and sulfur, making it a potent bone healing and strengthening agent. For our bones to maintain their density and power, there should be a steady supply of collagen.
Studies show that taking collagen can help ease symptoms of inflammation like pain and swelling. This is because of its ability to influence the amount of inflammatory immune modulators (like IL-6 and IL-8) released by cells, contributing to tissue damage and impaired healing. Collagen, therefore, improves joints and muscles’ recovery and increases performance among competitive athletes. Other anti-inflammatory effects of collagen also come from its effect on gut health. A leaky gut contributes a lot to systemic inflammation.
5. Improves sleep
Our past blog discussed how sleep influences digestion and other crucial functions of various body systems. Collagen is therefore beneficial for GI and gallbladder patients as it may help them achieve restful sleep. Studies show that collagen and gelatin can improve sleep quality and reduce daytime sleepiness.
6. Supports Brain Health
Poor gut health = poor brain health. Collagen, therefore, helps achieve better overall cognitive function. Glycine in collagen also has anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects. When glycine is not metabolized correctly, it may result in various developmental problems, lethargy, seizures, and mental retardation.
7. Better Skin Health
Among the collagen and gelatin benefits, this must be the most famous. As the primary building block of the skin, collagen is crucial to achieving a youthful, healthy glow. This is why collagen is known as one of the best natural anti-aging compounds. It improves skin moisture and elasticity while it reduces dryness and roughness. Without collagen, skins cells won’t be renewed and protected from UV rays and free radical damage.
There are many ways to incorporate collagen and gelatin into your daily diet. Protein sources like fish, beef, chicken, and egg are rich in it. However, these food items are not tolerated by everyone. Many individuals, therefore, opt to use powders or capsules. These can be used in smoothies, sauces, soups, and baking.
If you are new to collagen supplementation, it is important to introduce the compounds slowly. One or half a teaspoon of collagen protein daily is enough for new users. The dosage may gradually increase every week until it reaches the average amount needed by a typical person, which is 3-6 Tbsp of collagen daily. Too much intake of gelatin may cause bloating, stomachache, and loss of appetite.
To maximize natural collagen production and absorption, you may also take note of the following:
- Vitamin C-rich foods are crucial in the synthesis of collagen.
- Vitamin A-rich foods like carrots and sweet potatoes help restore damaged collagen.
- Lycopene in watermelon, tomato, grapefruit, and papaya boosts collagen production.
- Food items rich in sulfur like cauliflower, broccoli, onions, and leeks also play a crucial role in collagen production.
Best Collagen Supplement
Nothing beats the natural sources of collagen and gelatin. However, we don’t always have the luxury of time to prepare home-cooked healthy meals. Also, making a bone broth from scratch requires a lot of time and effort.
To make sure that you still get all the collagen support your body needs, we recommend the following:
1. Bone Broth Protein Powder
This product provides a rich collagen source and offers a vast array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and glucosaminoglycans. A bone broth powder is dehydrated bone broth and turned into a powder form. To use it, it can be mixed with water or blended in a shake or juice. It may also be rehydrated and warmed up. To make sure that you’re getting a quality powder with no questionable processing methods, try this Necessity Nutrition Brand.
2. Multi-Collagen Protein
For a high-quality blend of chicken, grass-fed beef, fish, and eggshell membrane collagen, try Ancient Nutrition’s Multi Collagen Protein Powder and Multi Collagen Protein Capsules. They call it multi-collagen because of its numerous sources and the presence of various types of collagen – Types 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10. If you have gallbladder problems, do not worry about the eggs in this collagen causing you an attack. Unless you are allergic to eggs, collagen from eggshells membranes shouldn’t be a problem.
3. Great Lakes Gelatin
Common store-bought gelatin brands do not usually give a breakdown of all its sources. With Great Lakes, you are sure that it is Kosher, Paleo-friendly, grass-fed, and pasture-raised beef gelatin.
Note: All products mentioned are available on Amazon.
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