Active Australians are using gelatin, a common ingredient in lollies and sweets, as a supplement in sport.
Currently there is lots of interest in how Gelatin may play a role in reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries such as tendon, cartilage and muscle injuries.
In 2017 an interesting study (1) was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Dietitians from the Australian Institute of Sport looked at how consuming gelatin enriched with vitamin C could potentially boost the collagen in the body, strengthening the connective tissues and reducing the risk of a musculoskeletal injury.
Zone 34’s Dietitian, Ellen Gleeson has summarised the background and findings from the research below. Check it out…
Gelatin or gelatine is protein derived from collagen. Collagen is the protein that makes up various connective tissues in the body including cartilage, ligaments and tendons. The gelatin used in our foods is from animals. In foods like lollies, marshmallows, desserts, some ice creams, dips, and yogurts, gelatin is primarily used to achieve a certain texture but in pharmaceutical products gelatin has been consumed for years to try and boost the collagen in the human body.
The gelatin used in the study was enriched with vitamin C as collagen cannot grow without sufficient vitamin C. The subjects in the study were consuming either 5g or 15g of gelatin mixed into 400mL of water with added vitamin C.
Eight male participants consumed either the Vitamin-C rich gelatin, or a placebo drink, and had blood samples analysed at different time points around skipping for 6 minutes, three times a day.
Blood samples taken at different time points over three days found an increase to the collagen precursors circulating in the blood. Meaning that consuming gelatin had increased the body’s potential to build collagen. The researchers even added some participants’ blood to ligaments grown in a lab and found that the collagen in the treated ligaments was increased compared to placebo.
Whilst extremely early findings, these results suggest that gelatin could have a role in prevention and rehabilitation strategies of musculoskeletal injuries, along side load management and strength programs. These are certainly promising results that are being looked at by professional teams, sporting institutes and athletes Australia wide.
HOW CAN I MAKE MY OWN?
You can buy gelatin powder from the pantry section of most supermarkets. Zone 34’s receptionist by Day, 800m track star by Night, Lora recommends dissolving the 15g of Gelatin in boiling water, and adding to vitamin C rich Ribena.