My latest gut health obsession: gelatin
You know how a growing number of modern ills particularly autoimmune diseases are now deemed to stem from the gut? And how more of us are suffering with crook guts that are leaky, nervous and cranky? Yeah?
Well, you’d really have to agree that that would make fixing your gut our number one health priority. No?
The boon is this: It’s also something we can do now to fix our various compromised situations. I write about this often and about how food really is the best medicine (not just a jaded slogan). Truly, it is. We can take charge now.
And, so I introduce gelatin. Gelatin is basically cooked collagen and comes form the bones, hides and connective tissues of animals. Gelatin makes up almost one-third of all the protein in the human body and not having enough of it affects our joints, our skin, and our guts. It comes as a powder that can be used to make jelly/jello, panna cotta, marshmallows, gummie bears and… other gut-giving goodnesses.
I’ve shared before how the gelatin in bone broth is a boon. But, of course, not everyone’s freezers are over-flowing with the stuff. Which is why gelatin can be so handy.
I still have you?
Oh, yes. And there’s this note to be made. I’m not talking crappy commercial gelatin. I’m talking the stuff that comes from pasture-raised cows. To that end, since you’ll ask, I use Great Lakes gelatin which is available online. Click here to order some in Australia or here to order elsewhere. I’ve also heard Bernard Jensen gelatin is great too. (PS, If you want to know more about what to look for in a gelatin powder this link is great.)
I’m going to post a recipe or two shortly. Meantime, a primer:
Why eat gelatin
- Gelatin is a fast and furious source of protein. It contains 18 amino acids, many of which are “essential”, meaning they must be acquired as part of our diet. PLUS: Gelatin balances out your meat intake. Muscle meats contain elevated levels of certain amino acids, which can be inflammatory over time. Gelatin contains two anti-inflammatory amino acids, thus balancing, completing, and complementing the other meat sources.
- It helps heal the gut lining by enhancing gastric acid secretion and restoring a healthy mucosal lining in the stomach. When your body can effectively break down and absorb the food you’re eating, you reduce the amount of inflammation in the gut and get more out of every bite. (Research from Gotthoffer, NR, Gelatin in Nutrition and Medicine.)
- Plus there’s this good gut stuff:
Gelatin helps seal the colon so that nutrients may be absorbed.
Gelatin helps food gel within the stomach for more consistent digestion.
Gelatin reduces heartburn, ulcers, and acid reflux by binding acids with the foods.
Gelatin can also help break down fats and proteins which will make it easier for your body to absorb. Here’s some great information if you’d like to read more.
- Plus, studies show it reduces cellulite and wrinkles. You can read the study here.
- It helps your liver detox. Gelatin provides the amino acid glycine, which assists the liver in ridding toxins from your body.
- You work out? Well, know this: Gelatin helps build lean muscle. Collagen is the body’s building blocks. It’s found in skin, bones, tendons, ligaments and muscle tissues, all crucial to the body’s structure and musculature. You can read more here.
- For added value – it also helps build bones and joints. According to a University study, gelatin was shown to have a positive healing effect on the joints of athletes. The gelatin not only reduces inflammation which can trigger pain receptors and cause stiffness in the joints, but it can also help repair small tears in the cartilage.
- For my auto-immune-y friends: gelatin is very high in anti-inflammatory amino acids such as glycine and proline and thus reduces inflammation.
- And it boosts metabolism and can be used for weight loss. The protocol for using gelatin for weight loss is to stop eating at least three hours prior to bedtime and consume at least 1 tablespoon of gelatin powder right before bed.
- Oh yeah, it helps with insomnia. Research has shown that taking glycine just before bed can actually help improve sleep quality and reduce daytime sleepiness as well as improve memory. This is partially due to the role glycine (one of the amino acids in gelatin) plays in the neurotransmitters within the brain. Before bed, try drinking 1-2 tbs. of gelatin in a shake or smoothie. Gelatin, due to the presence of glycine, can act as a natural sleep aid. Here’s a great resource to read more if you’re interested.
- And it fills you up… so it’s actually a very sound cravings strategy.
- And just when you thought it couldn’t keep on giving: Gelatin helps balance hormones, too. Seriously the Swiss Army knife of the food world. “Too much estrogen in the body can cause inflammation, infertility and promote accelerated aging. The wonderful, and seemingly endless, benefits of gelatin have anti-estrogenic effects which can help offset the effects of excess estrogen in the body.” Read more here.
How to eat gelatin
There really isn’t a limit to how much gelatin should be eaten in a day, though many say
2 – 3 tablespoons a day sounds about right to make a difference to your gut.
- Add it to your smoothies. Simply add 1 tablespoon of gelatin powder instead of protein powder.
- Make “gummies” or jellies (chewable lollies)… I’ll be posting on this shortly.
- Use it as a hair mask.
- Add to your tea and coffee; just add a teaspoon and drink as normal.
- Make panna cotta with it.
- Add it to pancakes and cookies/biscuits.
- Make homemade bouillon.
- Add it to homemade whipped cream. (This helps it hold its shape better too, especially in warm weather). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water (per quart of whipping cream), warm over low heat until fully dissolved, then when the cream begins to hold soft peaks, drizzle it in while whipping and continue whipping until the cream holds firm peaks.
Stay tuned for a few of my gelatin recipe experiments over the coming weeks!