There was a time when the word GELATIN made me think of the hideous jello served in school cafeterias. I wanted no part of it. I have since learned, however, that gelatin is pretty much a SUPERFOOD. It has so many amazing health benefits and uses. We have incorporated it into out family’s REAL food diet and use it often.
In years past, people got plenty of gelatin in their diets. Before the move towards processed foods, people consumed much more of an animal than just the muscle meats: chicken-foot soup as well as drumsticks, beef stew not just steaks. As a result, they got a whole-animal balance of amino acids, which provides better support for all sorts of biological processes. According to health researcher Ray Peat,
“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.”
What is gelatin?
Gelatin is flavorless, translucent substance derived from the processing of animal connective tissue and bones to extract collagen, an insoluble fibrous protein. It is derived by the selective hydrolysis of collagen from the skin, the connective tissue and/or bones of animals. Once extracted and powdered, gelatin dissolves in hot liquids and becomes more solid as it cools. Gelatin contains half of the 18 essential amino acids, needed for survival.
I know this may sound totally GROSS to some folks, but just think about it for a minute. In times past, when an animal was used for the purpose of food, people used as much of the animal as possible. The organ meats were consumed. The bones were cooked down into broth. Not only was this essential for survival for folks but also showed reverence and respect for the gift of food given to them. It is only recently that we have moved to just eating the muscle meats, missing out on all the nourishment that the rest of the animal can provide.
Health benefits of gelatin:
- Gelatin is loaded with protein ~ With 6 grams of protein per tablespoon, it’s a great way to add more protein to your diet. Even though it is not a complete protein, it helps the body fully utilize the complete proteins that are taken in.
- Gelatin improves digestion ~ It naturally binds to water and helps food move through the digestive tract more easily.
- Gelatin can help heal food allergies and intolerances ~ Adding gelatin to your diet can heal the lining of your stomach and digestive tract. And since food allergies/intolerances are thought to come from a “leaky gut,” the idea is that when you heal your digestive tract, you no longer have proteins and toxins that create health issues “leaching” into your body.
- Gelatin is good for bone and joint health ~ Gelatin contains lots of amino acids important in helping to prevent the weakness and degeneration of cartilage in joints. Gelatin, with it’s anti-inflammatory properties, has also been shown to reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis.
- Gelatin helps your body release toxins ~ Glycine, an amino acid found in gelatin, assists the liver to efficiently remove toxins from our system.
- Gelatin gives you better hair, nails, and teeth ~ Gelatin contains keratin, which is a very strong protein found in your hair, nails, teeth and skin.
- Gelatin improves the elasticity of your skin ~ Gelatin is essentially cooked down collagen. Consuming it will help improve the look and feel of your skin much more effectively then hard- to- absorb collagen facial creams. Gelatin actually stimulates your body to produce more collagen.
- Gelatin helps speed up wound healing ~ One of the amino acids found in gelatin is glycine, which is highly anti-inflammatory.
- Gelatin can improve your quality of sleep ~ Clinical studies have shown that not only do people sleep better when consuming the amino acid glycine, they report less daytime drowsiness and better cognitive function.
- Gelatin can help with weight loss ~ Gelatin is thought to increase the production of Human Growth Hormone and to boost metabolism. And with it’s nutrient-dense content, it also helps with satiety (keeps you full.)
How to get more gelatin in your diet:
- Homemade bone broths ~ Cooking down your bones from good quality pastured and grass-fed animals will provide you with a gelatin-rich broth to use in soups, stews, and to drink. See recipe HERE and HERE
- Homemade fruit snacks ~ By just combining fruit juice and powdered gelatin, you can make tasty fruit snacks the whole family will love. My favorite recipes HERE HERE and HERE
- Desserts ~ Powdered gelatin can be used in making tasty desserts of all sorts. Homemade jellos, mousses, and puddings with gelatin are the best. You can even make marshmallows. Recipes HERE HERE HERE and HERE
- Gelatin drinks ~ Powdered gelatin can be added to water, juices, or teas for a healthy drink supplement. You can add it to your smoothies as a protein powder. I like THIS one because it dissolves easily in liquid without having to heat it. It has a smaller molecular structure so it dissolves in cold water and will NOT gel. Read more HERE
- Add it to your own soups and stews ~ Powdered gelatin is so versatile. You can put it in just about anything. Try adding a bit to the next soup or stew you make.
Just like with all foods, quality matters….
I am not talking about the gelatin for JELLO that you buy at the store that is loaded with artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners. To get the health benefits of gelatin, please choose a good quality powder from a pastured and grass fed source. Mainstream factory farming practices can be cruel and are very detrimental to our environment.
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Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
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