Last Updated on January 6th, 2020
If you have been battling acne for some time then all kinds of strange cures must have been suggested to you. From bathing in chlorine which dries up pimples, to undergoing a tattoo-removal laser treatment for better skin. Usually, the remedies tend to be herbal or in the form of various vitamins. Indeed, if you are fighting recurring breakouts, by now you have probably tripled or quadrupled your magnesium, zinc and vitamin D intake. You might even have become an expert chemist and already know by heart what Indole-3-carbinol is, how various roots like burdock root can counter irritation, or what saw palmetto can do for your complexion1. However, we are willing to bet you have not yet tried to relieve your acne with gelatin.
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Unlike many of the listed potential cures, gelatin is cheap, widely available and an excellent solution for the zits that may be frequenting your face. Gelatin represents a smooth mixture of the parts of the animal that we normally tend to avoid2. Indeed, nowadays we consume immense amounts of meat. In fact, we breed and eat animals like never before. As a whole, our protein intake is enormous, so protein deficiency is probably not the cause of your acne.
Because of how much meat we have available today, we tend to be picky about which parts of animals we want to eat. Humans of the past used to consume a lot less meat, as it was a lot less widely available. There was thus a tendency to eat every part of the animal, whether straight off the grill, or by way of some sort of broth or other concoction. Indeed, the people of the past would gobble up their livestock in its entirety – connective tissues and all. In contrast, most steaks are now made of the tender parts of animals; the farthest we tend to go is eating organs like hearts and livers. These parts of animals are full of muscles, so we do have an abundance of amino acids like tryptophan and cysteine. Usually, however, we stop at bones and joints. And that is what gelatin essentially is made of.
Now that we have discussed the slightly disturbing facts around gelatin’s contents, it is time to focus on why you should be thinking about putting them in your body, to begin with.
Glutathione is an antioxidant which provides you with excellent skin-caring properties3. Granted, glutathione is already manufactured by your body in abundance. In fact, it is the antioxidant you have the most of within your system. It is basically the body’s natural acne repellent, being just as effective as vitamins like C and E. Glutathione fights free radicals and prevents them from messing with these vitamins, needed for battling pimples. It also relieves you of mercury and other heavy metals. That is also actually the reason why our bodies are not especially rich in this beneficial acne-fighting molecule – we are constantly exposed to such high levels of heavy metals, chemicals, carcinogenic herbicides and pesticides, that it is impossible for too much detoxifying glutathione to remain in our body for too long at any given time.
This is particularly worrisome for those of us that are actively fighting acne. In fact, if your face has a tendency to break out, then you probably have about 5 times less glutathione than you actually need. This essentially represents a vicious cycle for acne sufferers. You break out because you don’t have enough of the acne-fighting molecule, yet you are unable to produce more of it because of the way your skin is.
Feeling desperate? Time for a drum-roll. All you need to do is up your gelatin intake! This is because glycine is a main producer of glutathione, in combination with l-glutamine and l-cysteine. And as gelatin specializes in producing glycine, all you need to do is munch on some ground up bones and joints, right?
If you are still totally reluctant to suck it up and try some gelatin, you can unfortunately not rely on your body to produce it naturally instead. What you can do is to obtain certain levels of glutathione from protein. Protein provides you with the l-glutamine and glycine that you need. So, why didn’t we begin the section with this information? Unfortunately, if your skin is extremely acne-prone, then your system might become additionally irritated by the IGF-1 hormones4 in dairy, as well as by any compounds in it. Better stick to gelatin.
You have probably already heard of the magical powers that collagen brings to the table when it comes to skincare. After all, every other beauty product claims to be collagen-based. The time has come to learn what collagen actually is and why it benefits you – as well as how you can obtain it from gelatin.
Collagen is basically what your skin is built on – and what all other skin cells are attached to. It should hence come as no surprise that if you are looking to rebuild your problematic skin5, you should be turning to collagen. Indeed, while collagen is generally great for your skin (it evens out your complexion and leaves you with a beautifully moisturized surface), it also directly combats acne and any remaining scars. Collagen is also a great aide against any sort of skin inflammation, whether that is caused by free radicals or not.
Collagen and keratin are essentially the building blocks of your body’s surface. Guess where you can also find collagen! Indeed, collagen also plays a role in your connective tissues, your organ lining and your joints. Sound familiar? That is one thing we have in common with animals – more often than not, our body structures are based on the same substances. It is therefore logical that gelatin – the concoction of animal joints, bones, etc. is what is able to provide you with the highest amounts of proline and glycine – amino acids needed for collagen production. If this wasn’t enough, the protein also brings you a hefty amount of vitamin C – benefiting your skin, as well as your entire being.
In general, gelatin is thus revered for essentially deeply strengthening your skin. As the substance interacts with your genetically shortening telomeres, and attacks free radicals6, this also means less wrinkles and a slower aging process for your complexion. If you are nearing your 30’s and starting to see changes in your skin, you should already begin boosting its slowly-but-surely-dropping collagen levels. Moreover, even if you are not experiencing an aging process just yet, you should still stick to gelatin, as it deeply (and naturally!) hydrates your skin.
Various experiments confirm that glycine may have excellent benefits for sleep, too, and thus – for stress relief. Coincidentally (or not), stress is a significant cause of acne. Just a couple of grams of glycine can help you fall asleep faster, in addition to contributing to more wholesome naps. Research on the subject is quite varied, including providing tiny doses of glycine to extremely tired test subjects, while some received a simple placebo. The glycine-ingesting subjects both slept and generally felt better than the others. Glycine also combats tiredness, and even memory and concentration problems. It has even been reported to help schizophrenics, addicts and those with depression.
How does glycine manage to do all this? The simple answer is that it helps with REM sleep, while even making you feel colder and thus easing you into sleep. It allegedly does all this by inhibiting cortisol’s effect on your psyche, in addition to successfully engaging the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors7 in your brain. Significantly, glycine boosts your serotonin, calms you down, regulates your sleep cycle and stimulates your melatonin levels.
All of this relates to acne in the sense that stress and sleep deprivation are major causes of frequent breakouts. When you experience irregular sleep, which almost a third of Americans do, you keep more insulin into your system. Essentially, when you aren’t feeling good, neither is your skin. Help yourself and increase your glycine, and by extension – your gelatin levels, and enjoy better sleep, better skin, and a better life!
If any of this sounds suspiciously good, it does all have backing by scientific experimentation, especially in relation to acne.
Gelatin has been known as a healing agent for over a century. A scientist named Erich Cohn used it to relieve inflammation, which was not even related to skin. He successfully used it to improve the condition of patients with digestive problems. Basically, the substance is part of the lining of organs such as the intestinal tract, and it was able to decrease irritation of affected patients who were battling germs and candida-like yeasts.
After this, various experiments helped prove that gelatin treated internal inflammation with success. Research has proven gelatin to successfully alleviate a myriad of irritations related to your blood, joints, respiratory and immune systems, etc. Naturally, glycine, as well as histidine and cysteine, thus help against inflammation of the skin, as related to recurring zits – especially if these are caused by various chemicals like TNF and interleukin-6 (released by the NF-KappaB molecule). How does glycine do it? It is believed that it simply deactivates macrophages and other cells related to inflammation, and blocks the production of inflammation-causing cytokines.
Gelatin is also particularly helpful with digestive system-related issues. It has been shown that gelatin’s glycine is effective in keeping your internal organs essentially healthy, especially when it comes to systemic damage due to sepsis or due to subacute endotoxemia. This is also true in relation to oxidative alteration caused by irritated bowels – which can indeed often result in breakouts. Various experiments have also found glycine to protect nutrient-absorbing epithelial cells in the intestines8 – and particularly in the small intestine (especially if the the problem was caused by eating high-fructose products).
If all this seems slightly off-topic, remember that acne is often caused by an unhealthy diet based on nutrient deficiency or an allergic reaction.
Let’s begin with the effect of collagen on animals, before we move on to human experiments. In an effort to establish the healing properties of gelatin on skin, research was conducted on mice9 – one half ingested gelatin, and the other did not. The idea was to test whether their skin would be affected by UV light. The gelatin-less mice saw their skin rid itself of as much as half of its natural collagen. Despite being exposed to UV light, the gelatin-eating mice experienced even higher collagen levels than at the start of the study. This not only means that gelatin is an excellent producer of collagen, but also that it can counteract the detrimental effects of excessive sunlight onto your skin. Additionally, this effectively means that if you are sporting high levels of gelatin, you can enjoy as much sunlight as possible (upping your vitamin D levels), no matter how severe your skin problems may be at that moment.
The human-based experiment was conducted about 10 years ago, and it found that if middle-aged females ingested gelatin in quantities equaling less than 10 grams over the course of about a month and a half, their skin would already be completely rejuvenated. To be sure, after less than a month, almost half of the subjects saw an effect on their complexion, even when taking in smaller amounts of gelatin-based collagen. More than that, two-thirds of the women with a higher intake of gelatin experienced better skin after a short period of time. Even more astonishingly, by the end of the experiment, more than three-fourths of all women experienced a better, tighter and overall healthier complexion. Now, isn’t that an experiment that we would all like to take part in? You can easily see these improvements in your own skin by starting to consume more gelatin.
The amino acids glycine and proline are key for sustaining some parts of our organisms, yet we do get a lot less of them than our ancestors did. Glycine, in particular, is an amino acid that is of the non-essential kind. What is the significance of that? Luckily, it simply refers to your liver producing extra glycine for you whenever you are in desperate need of it. And when would you be in such need of glycine, you might ask. The answer is worrisome – you probably already do have a glycine deficiency due to your refined diet. This means that unless you are consuming actual animal bones and joints, it is likely that you do not have enough of it.
Think of it this way – when you are cooking meat, you probably toss the hard parts of it. In this way, you are basically throwing out about ten grams of necessary glycine each time you cook a non-vegetarian meal. But there must be a better way to get your glycine dosage up, right? After all, you will probably not be switching your tasty steaks and chicken breasts for hearts and tongues anytime soon. You are probably equally highly unlikely to stop making goulash with tender, juicy pieces of meat in favor of making joint and bone soup. We are betting that we guessed right. So what will you do to obtain the glycine that your body is craving? Your answer lies in gelatin.
Gelatin is practically made of the specific parts of animals that contain the most of the needed glycine. If you opt for the grass-fed kind of gelatin, you will be ingesting more than 20% glycine per portion. A bonus is that you will also be taking in more than 10% proline per bite.
Now we are getting to the part you are dreading. How can you get more gelatin into your diet? You surely don’t want to be ‘biting’ into minced bones and connective tissues. Fortunately, you can easily get these goodies in the form of unsweetened, flavorless gelatin. While tasteless foods are probably not exactly your cup of tea, it is better than going for cow hooves and connective tissues, isn’t it?
You want to specifically look for grass-fed gelatin, which is the kind that heals inflammation with absolute certainty. On the other hand, you definitely want to be avoiding gelatin which is obtained from badly treated cows. For instance, avoid gelatin from cows that are bred for their meat. Those are often held in confined spaces where they are fed antibiotics, growth hormones like bovine, various low grade, herbicide-filled foods, and even candy. Ingesting gelatin from such animals would only up your omega-6 fatty acid content, which will actually only worsen your acne.
Conclusively, definitely look for organic gelatin from happy, healthy cows. One example is the Great Lakes Pasture-Raised Gelatin. This kind of gelatin will surely provide you with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients that you need to triumphantly bid farewell to your acne. Not only will your skin be clearer, but you will find yourself sleeping better, smiling more and generally enjoying life to a higher degree – and all of this without any side effects.