Thursday, November 09, 2017

Collagen and Gelatin - The Connective (T)issues

The days of eating from "nose to tail" and everything in between are long past for most of us here in the West. We pick and choose our favorite cuts of meat at the grocery stores and head to the grill, oven or BBQ. The issue becomes the potential lack of collagen we now consume in our diets.

"Collagen is the most important protein in connective tissue, skin, and bones; you actually have more collagen in your body than any other type of protein. Degradation or lack of collagen can cause problems from skin wrinkles to osteoporosis.
In food, collagen is found mostly in the “odd bits” and tougher cuts of beef that contain a lot of connective tissue. You might recognize these as the parts of the animals that our ancestors ate, but we typically throw away today."

We can put collagen back into our diets by slow roasting lesser cuts of beef, poultry, and/or creating homemade bone broths. It can be time consuming, especially when making bone broths as you must simmer the bones for a substantial amount of time to leech the collagen into your broth. Always best to use organic/free range/ grass fed "happy" critters so the quality of the broth and gel is not suspect.

"“Gelling” refers to the way the broth congeals when you cool it to fridge temperature. Bone broth is famous for this: you put in a liquid, and take out something like “chicken Jell-O” – and that’s a sign of quality! The very best broth is jiggly and gelatinous, not perfectly thin and liquid (don’t worry; it liquefies again when you heat it up).

The cooked form of collagen is gelatin. By using the "gross" parts of the animal(chicken feet, knuckles, skin) along with bones you can make a healthy broth. Adding some vinegar to the pot helps the leeching process.

"To get enough gelatin in the broth, you have to have enough collagen in the raw materials. Bones do contain collagen. But you know what has even more? All the gristle-y connective tissue in between the bones. For the most collagen-rich bone broth, add as much of that as you can cram in...."

Sidebar - I do make bone broth using free run turkey/ chicken parts and it is delicious but very time consuming and then you have the issue of using it up before it expires.

Sounds delicious in a (perceived) nasty witch`s brew kind of way but there is another easier option though - pre made gelatin powder.

Picked up some organic beef gelatin powder on Amazon although you can source gelatin at most supermarkets. Since it is the collagen you want the lack of an indepth nutritional profile means little though it does supply protein  It has the look and texture of corn meal and has no taste. As a result you can add it to soups, smoothies, gravies, juices and even water. I personally want something quick and easy so I purchase organic chicken or vegetable broth and simply heat up a mug or pot and add the gelatin. Its like drinking a cup of soup or, more specifically, consommé. To bulk it up further I will occasionally add a couple eggs to make an egg drop style soup.


The benefits of collagen and gelatin....

"...gelatin provides amino acids like glycine that strengthen the gut lining and therefore lower inflammation. Glycine is used by doctors to help improve digestive, joint, cardiovascular, cognitive and skin health."

"While eating parts of animals that contain collagen and consuming bone broth are both ideal ways to obtain gelatin and collagen, this isn’t always easy or possible. As an alternative, you can use powdered gelatin, which takes much less time to prepare. This way allows you to make a fast, simple substitute for bone broth and gives you another way to acquire beneficial amino acids."