Balance Hormones with Collagen Hydrolysate and Gelatin

How to use collagen hydrolysate and gelatin to support balanced hormones and a healthy thyroid.

Collagen Hydrolysate: A gelatin supplement

Who needs Botox when you’ve got bone broth? (Ha ha, real food joke.) Homemade bone broth, as many real-foodies know, provides a rich source of collagen, a component that adds luminosity and plumpness to the skin.

Both collagen hydrolysate and gelatin comes from cooking the bones, hides and hooves from animals. Dietary sources of quality gelatin have all but disappeared from the modern diet, although past generations widely consumed gelatin-rich broths, soups, headcheese, calves foot jelly, sauces and aspics. These sources of gelatin not only tasted delicious, it boosted the nutritional profile of the meal.

What is collagen hydrolysate?

Collagen hydrolysate is a dietary supplement. It is essentially gelatin and carries all the benefits of gelatin, however it is processed in a way that it dissolve into hot and cold liquids without gelling and is more quickly absorbed by the body. 

collagen hydrolysateAccording to Catherine Crow, who interviewed Bob Busscher, the president of Great Lakes, this processing starts by separating the collagen from grass-fed beef hides. Then, the liquid is evaporated from the collagen it is hydrolyzed. During this hydrolyzing step, it is stored at a higher temperature to “reduce the molecular weight cleaving the amino acid bonds.” Finally, it is dried into a powder.

To my knowledge, Great Lakes carries the only grass-fed collagen hydrolysateand this is the only collagen supplement that I take. Remember, Great Lakes green can = grassfed collagen hydrolysatefound here, and Great Lakes red can = grassfed gelatin, found here (Great Lakes also carries a pork gelatin here in a red can)

Collagen hydrolysate vs. gelatin

Collagen hydrolysate and gelatin both start from the same ingredient: collagen from beef (or pork, for the non-kosher gelatin option) hides. As a result, these two products share the same amino acid profiles. The primary difference is that collagen hydrolysate is more easily assimilable due to the hydrolyzing step and it does not gel. On the other hand, gelatin can be used to make jello and puddings. 

When I use the term “gelatin” and “collagen hydrolysate,” remember that these are basically interchangeable in regards to the health properties.

Collagen hydrolysate and gelatin help balance hormones

Of the amino acids in collagen hydrolysate and gelatin, 35% is glycine and 21% is proline and hydroproline. Also important, collagen hydrolysate/gelatin completely lacks the amino acid tryptophan. The high percentage of glycine and proline, as well as the lack of tryptophan, help balance the ingestion of large amounts of tryptophan and cysteine present in muscle meats. The equilibrium of amino acids play a large role in metabolic rate, thyroid function and hormone production. 

Dr. Ray Peat, a hormonal researcher in the field of nutrition and metabolism, describes why muscle meats when consumed without gelatin can increase stress hormones and decrease thyroid hormones

Gelatin is a protein which contains no tryptophan, and only small amounts of cysteine, methionine, and histidine. Using gelatin as a major dietary protein is an easy way to restrict the amino acids that are associated with many of the problems of aging.[…]

When only the muscle meats are eaten, the amino acid balance entering our blood stream is the same as that produced by extreme stress, when cortisol excess causes our muscles to be broken down to provide energy and material for repair. The formation of serotonin is increased by the excess tryptophan in muscle, and serotonin stimulates the formation of more cortisol, while the tryptophan itself, along with the excess muscle-derived cysteine, suppresses the thyroid function.

[…]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. (Read more)

Note: a level tablespoon of collagen hydrolysate provides 7 grams of gelatin.

The point here, of course, is that amino acids consumed out of balance are not conducive to health. Does that make tryptophan bad? No. Does is make serotonin bad? Nope. Does it make cortisol bad? No again. The trouble arises when these elements are out of proportions.

By helping to balance the tryptophan, gelatin supports healthy thyroid function and reduces the metabolic stress of increased cortisol. Thyroid and metabolism go hand-in-hand, so gelatin may actually increase metabolism by improving thyroid function.

Ray Peat also explains the anti-stress properties of the glycine found in gelatin:

A generous supply of glycine/gelatin, against a balanced background of amino acids, has a great variety of antistress actions. Glycine is recognized as an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, and promotes natural sleep. Used as a supplement, it has helped to promote recovery from strokes and seizures, and to improve learning and memory. But in every type of cell, it apparently has the same kind of quieting, protective antistress action. (Read more)

Improve digestion with gelatin and collagen hydrolysate

How to use collagen hydrolysate and gelatin to support balanced hormones and a healthy thyroid. Dr. Pottenger, another researcher who offered extremely valuable research in the field of nutrition, praised bone broth because it provides a source of hydrophilic colloids in the form of gelatin. Raw foods tend to be hydrophilic – water-loving – and blend with digestive juices for efficient digestion.

Cooking food, however, often creates hydrophobic colloids and can repel digestive juice in the stomach. Because collagen hydrolysate/gelatin remains hydrophilic even when heated, it aids digestion of cooked food. 

Further, the glycine in gelatin stimulates stomach acid production and thereby improves digestion and nutrient assimilation. Low stomach acid is a chronic problem that leads to a cascade of symptoms in the entire body, so increasing stomach acid often alleviates a host of issues. (Source – Weston Price Foundation’s Broth is Beautiful article)

Because poor digestion underlies all hormonal imbalances, improving stomach acidify and nutrient assimilation supports the roots of hormone balance.

How to take collagen hydrolysate and gelatin

Ideally, consume a source of gelatin with each meal. This could be a cup of homemade bone broth, some homemade jello bites or a tablespoon of collagen hydrolysate stirred into a smoothie or beverage.

Great Lakes recommends taking two heaping tablespoons of collagen hydrolysate per day. I take 1 tablespoon in my morning smoothie and 1 tablespoon before bed. Because it is pure protein, I believe it should be balanced with carbohydrate and fat when you consume it. For my bedtime routine, I enjoy a tablespoon of collagen hydrolysate mixed into warm coconut milk (1/3 cup)  sweetened with honey and a pinch of nutmeg. Delicious!

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Comments

    • says

      Do you mean the same way as the collagen hydrolysate – mixed into liquids/smoothies? The hydrolysate will dissolve into hot and cold liquids and doesn’t leave a “slimy” texture that results when you mix the gelatin into hot beverages. I also find that the gelatin leaves a slightly flavor while the hydrolysate is almost flavorless. The gelatin will not dissolve well into cold beverages and can get lumpy when mixed into hot beverages if not mixed well.

  1. JessicaR says

    Is it possible for gelatin to actually imbalance hormones rather than balance them? I have found that since taking Great Lakes Gelatin (2 to 3 tsp per day), my cycle runs much longer than it used to (five to six weeks instead of four).

    • zosia says

      you should also look at the overall picture and see what else is going on in your life.
      Have you changed your routine in some way? Are you more stressed than usual? Less stressed?
      Did you add something else to the diet? …or cut something out? etc. etc.

    • Kristy says

      I’d love to be in your shoes since my cycle has gone the opposite way the last several years and I’m now recovering from iron anemia. Hoping gelatin helps. :-)

    • amber says

      I also noticed an imbalance. My cycle got shorter (not complaining except it was so short and light I kept thinking I was missing it) and my skin is breaking out baaadly. I’m 31 and have a pizza face like a teenager. It was the only real change I had made to my diet so I have cut it out for a week and my flow is back and my skin seems to be clearing up.

  2. zosia says

    I understand that “grass-fed” changes (or rather ENHANCES) the fat and nutrient profile of beef (the actual meat); however, since beef gelatin is an isolated product (which does not include nutrients (other than amino acids) and fat), shouldn’t it be that grass-fed in regards to gelatin is of no importance?

      • zosia says

        While I agree wholeheartedly with you, you still didn’t really answer my question.
        I still don’t really understand what fundamental damage I would be doing if I used non grass-fed beef gelatin…

        • Jessi says

          If you consume non grass-fed gelatin then that means it was made from cow’s that were conventionally raised, i.e. pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. I have no clue how much of a difference that makes in the gelatin, but I have to assume you get some residual contamination.

  3. karen says

    i have to get some of this one. i have the red one and make “gummies” with them. i would love to read a post on your daily routine :)

  4. Bobbie says

    Hi Lauren! You mentioned adding the collagen hydrolysate to your morning smoothie. Would you share your ideas for morning smoothies with us?? Thanks for sharing!!

  5. says

    Hi-Love your blog posts! Question about the collagen you mention in this article…can I put it in my bulletproof coffee? Also is it beneficial to bake with in the same way you use gelatin to bake with?

  6. says

    love this! even more reasons why we love taking our gelatin, we take both forms of Great lakes a few tablespoons a day. We love making marshmallows :) We have noticed great improvements in our skin and health once we started taking it almost a year ago.

    • Deb says

      Doing the gelatin for my 13 year old daughter. Do you have a great marshmallow recipe that you would share. Best to you both,

      Deb

  7. says

    Thanks for the great info! I’ve been taking collagen hydrolysate for a few weeks mixed into my morning dandy blend. I’ve been taking it for gut health but I didn’t realise the effect on hormones. I missed it a few days last week and had a couple of extremely emotional days – I wonder if that might explain my hormones feeling so out of whack.

  8. Fabiola says

    Thank you so much for explaining the differences so clearly for us! I had purchased both and couldn’t figure out why they were different and where to incorporate them.

  9. Helen says

    Lauren,

    I am 24 years old, and had gotten diagnosed with premature ovarian failure 3 years ago (in other words premature menopause) The doctors had me on aritifical hormones, and I have decided that I want to take control of my life and body and learn how to balance my hormones naturally. Is there anything you would recommend I do?

    • Anya says

      Helen,
      It saddens me to read about your diagnosis but rest assured, there is so much you can do to reverse premature ovarian failure. I too was diagnosed with that few years ago. I was devastated as I was in my late 20s. I have since adopted a very WAPF/Paleo/GAPS diet and am slowly recovering. I’ve been getting my periods back (so happy to see Aunt Flo again!!). I focused on consuming lots of healthy fats: (ghee, butter (grass-fed of course), coconut oil, raw cheese & milk), fermented foods (sauerkraut, kefir) and herbal teas (nettle, red clover, vitex berries). I’ve also cut out all the toxic household cleaners and toiletries. I make everything myself now: from laundry detergent to chapstick. It is possible to heal – our bodies are amazing machines – you just have to supply the right materials!! Blessings to you Helen and thanks Lauren for all your work. Love your blog.

  10. Martha says

    Hi Lauren, I just discovered your site from Weed’em and Reep. I love all of your amazing recipes and using food to heal, I am a big believer! I wanted to give you some information for your digestive issues on the worlds #1 Aloe. My really good friend Missi had the exact same thing as you and like you had tried all of the medicines and nothing was working. She also used food and nutrition to help but once she started taking this ultimate aloe- http://www.shop.com/Ultimate+Aloe-603891601-p+.xhtml she hasn’t had a flair up in 6 years! I started taking it along with the Isotonix daily essentials vitamins back in November of 2013 and have felt amazing. I, luckily, didn’t have any major issues but have noticed PMS cramps disappear (thanks to the calcium) my skin tone improve and just overall more energy. If you would like to try some I would love to order some for you or talk in more detail. Please feel free to look into the product and contact me if you’re interested! Hope you have a blessed day.- Martha

  11. Amanda says

    Hi! I’ve been following you on Pinterest for a while now and decided to try the collagen hydrosolate because I know how important amino acids are and to help balance my hormones. I’ve been taking them for almost a month now and my skin is breaking out really bad. I NEVER have break outs and rarely get pimples so I’m concerned it’s from the collagen. Please let me know if you have any insight!!

    • Amy says

      Hi Amanda. I just recently starting taking gelatin too and it seems my face has blown up with pimples, mainly on my chin, since taking it. Did you ever get to the bottom of this…I seen that no one replied to you.

  12. Lyn howett says

    Is it o.k. To take porcine gelatin in the orange can! It is not the beef one it is the pork one in the grat lakes unflavored gelatin collagen joint care?

  13. Vanessa says

    Hi Lauren,

    Been following your posts for a while now. I love how accessible you make the information :-)

    The Ray Peat reference reminds me very much of something else I read somewhere, I think perhaps from the recent PaleoCon online webinar series or mentioned by Stefani Ruper, about how exercise doesn’t just effect the body globally, like to decrease insulin resistance, but it also works on a more specific level in the cells to enhance the cells ability to receive parts for energy. I suppose this has to do with mitochondria.

    Maybe this plays into the effectiveness of Whole Body Vibration (WBV) therapy (Dave Asprey at Bulletproofexecutive.com has an (expensive!) product that serves this purpose, and I’m sure then other extra info on it). Not to mention the added benefit of moving fluids in the body, like a rebounder.

    Keep up the great work!
    Vanessa

  14. Laura says

    Have you ever tried to add collagen hydrolysate to homemade ghee?
    The idea just occurred to me when I read what you wrote about it probably needing to be balanced with carb and fat. Not sure what could be the carb to add it to though.

  15. Jackie says

    I believe in the benefits of adding gelatin to the diet. I attempted to do this using the Great Lakes brand and developed bloating. I tried decreasing to only a teaspoon a day and still experience the bloating, although not as significantly. Is it uncommon to experience “side effects” when initially introducing gelatin to the body?

    Thank you so much for the input.

  16. Ginger Coleen says

    Hi Lauren – I started taking the Collagen about 3 months ago based on your recommendation. I had gum problems all my life and a tooth that was getting infected off and on because my gum had pulled away and down on the backside of it allowing food and who knows what to go down under the tooth. At some point I noticed that my gum had become firm and the tooth was not as loose as it had been and, of course, no more infections. Then I read on http://thewholefoodjourney.com that it also helps to heal gum disease. Here is a link but I’m not sure it was on that page: http://thewholejourney.com/healing-powers-of-chicken-bone-broth-video. I’ve checked the rest of my gums now and I’d bet that any dentist would no longer claim I had gingivitis as they have most of my life. My gums are firm plump and just the right shade of pinkish/red.

    This is really a potent healing remedy for so many things. I will keep taking it and thank you so much for helping me and so many others.

  17. Claudia Lorena Balboa de Quinto} says

    Thanks Laureen! I’m translating some of these points to Spanish for my friends. If someone here needs this information in Spanish, feel free to ask.

    Blessings!!

  18. Olga says

    Lauren – do you drink morning smoothie with an egg yolk while on AIP? Or you have your own version of autoimmune protocol based on what your body tolerates?

  19. Karissa says

    I started taking Now Foods Beef Gelatin 550mg Hydrolyzed Capsules a week ago to see if it would help with my health. I have some form of connective tissue/collagen disorder that my rheumatologist has been unable to classify. My toes have an odd purple hue and swell very easily. My right fingers swell up, itch and burn all winter, every winter. It is not known what this is and why my left fingers stay normal. I had an ice water test and did not fit the criteria for Raynaud’s syndrome although it is similar. I had my amygdala and hippocampus removed 4 years ago due to a cancerous tumor. I had epilepsy prior to the surgery but had not experienced any seizures afterward. I wanted to try beef gelatin to see if it would help with my fingers and toes, help me with handling stress (I am unable to handle even the slightest bit of stress which I assume is due to the removal of the stress-control areas of the brain), give me energy (I am almost always tired), help with memory and mood, and help with my stomach issues. I have been battling candida and leaky gut syndrome since being on steroids for a brief period after the surgery.
    Since taking the gelatin, I have had a painful, bloated stomach that makes odd gurgling noises. My fingers and toes have swelled up a little. I have fallen asleep quickly and sleep through the night, yet I wake up feeling exhausted. My brain feels swollen. I notice that I have puffy eyes and the small bald spot on my head from the surgery has gone from an indent to swollen. Worst of all, I have the feeling like a seizure may come at any second. I haven’t had this feeling for 4 years. It is an odd feeling of dread. Therefore, I will not continue to take the gelatin.
    I am wondering if anyone may know why my body is having the opposite reaction than what other people seem to have. I have read that gelatin is beneficial in recovering from epilepsy, helps to heal the gut and controls inflammation. Why would these issues be worsening for me? This is very frustrating after reading all of the positive information on this.

    • Karissa says

      I should add that a I had catamenial epilepsy, meaning that my seizures worsened around menstruation due to hormonal shifts. At the time of taking beef gelatin, I was not near that part of my cycle.

  20. Steve says

    Karissa, it’s possible you have methylation issues related to a MTHFR mutation (which might also explain some of your health problems). It is my understanding that gelatin (and bone broth) cause problems if you have such a mutation.

  21. Jolaine says

    Love this info! I thought I’d let you know that there is also grass fed/finished collagen available by Bulletproof. It seems to be excellent quality. I’ve tried both.

  22. Marilyn says

    Maybe with more time/research i could find the answer; but, here goes. What about the info that its only possible for the collagen ‘supplement’ to be useful if taken on an empty stomach. What is it about the stomach acids destroying the collagen? How does that pertain to bone broth? vs hydrolyzed collagen? The more I learn the more I realize that I know less…

  23. Gerry says

    Does the collagen hydrolysate contain gluten? I read a list of gluten containing foods published by Dr Perlmutter and “hydrolysate”was listed under a heading of ”might be an ingredient indicating gluten’.

  24. says

    Wow !!!! I Am amazed, I have never heard of gelatine in this way before. I live in Australia and I would love to start trying this to help with my terribly itchy skin, which disrupts my sleep , I have had for 8 years and anything I try is short lived relief. Also now I am in my late 40’s and my hormones and cycle are changing. Can you let me know how to order some please. Thanks Steph

  25. natalie says

    Collagen hydrolysate and the gastric bypass patient. How is the absorption? Is this a good source of protein for the gastric by pass patient?

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