Gelatin and degenerative and inflammatory diseases.
Adults with muscle pain, colitis, and other inflammatory conditions, as well as sleep problems, might consider including several grams of gelatin in their daily diet Gelatin (cooked animal collagen) provides glycine, praline, and alanine. As physiologist Ray Peat, PhD, explains in his excellent article "Gelatin, Stress, Longevity," these amino acids, particularly glycine, have significant antistress effects that balance the stress-producing effects of muscle meats. Muscle meat contains tryptophan, an excess of which is known to produce muscle pain, and cysteine, which suppresses thyroid function. The amino acids in muscle meat also contribute to many ailments associated with aging. While the amino acids in muscle meat are beneficial for growing children, too much of them can actually be detrimental to adults. Once commonplace, gelatin-rich broths made from beef bones or chicken bones and feet are now a rarity in US homes.
Glycine, the primary amino acid in gelatin, is an "inhibitory" neurotransmitter that promotes natural sleep. This amino acid also modulates nitric oxide, prostaglandins, and cytokines involved in inflammatory and degenerative diseases. Studies as far back as the 1930s found glycine useful for treating myasthenia gravis (characterized by muscle weakness and chronic fatigue) and muscular dystrophy. This amino acid also boosts insulin action, lowering blood sugar. Mary C. Gannon and colleagues reported
evidence that "oral glycine stimulates the secretion of a gut hormone that potentiates the effect of insulin on glucose removal from the circulation." High blood sugar has been linked to many chronic and degenerative conditions. Glycine also promotes wound healing and inhibits tumor formation.
Peat recommends obtaining glycine in its natural state as gelatin because alanine and praline also prevent cell damage. Moreover, gelatin-rich broths have a long history of medical use. Concentrated gelatinous beef broth has been a traditional mainstay for treating colitis, dysentery, ulcers, celiac disease, and other digestive disorders. Very simple recipes for chicken or beef stock are available online, in Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions, and at www.townsendletter.com (search for bone broth). Prepackaged gelatin, available in the grocery store or online, can be mixed into drinks, soups, or other foods. (Check the Jell-O section for plain Knox gelatin. A serving of Jell-O has too little gelatin and too much sugar and additives to be of use.) Peat says, "If a person eats a large serving of meat, it's probably helpful to have 5 or 10 grams of gelatin at approximately the same time, so that the amino acids enter the blood stream in balance."
Gannon Mc, Nuttall JA, Nuttal FQ. The metabolic response to ingested glycine. Am/Clin Nutr. 2002; 76: 1302-1307.
Peat R. Gelatin, stress, longevity [Web article]. Ray Peat. www.raypeat.com/articles/articles/gelatin.shtml. Accessed August 28, 2010.