Is Gelatin Good For You?

Is Gelatin Good for You? Why Do You Need Mankind’s Most Ancient Superfood?

A protein derived from collagen, gelatin is packed with health benefits and for this reason, everyone needs it in their diet. Modern individuals do not consume as much gelatin as their grandparents used to, and this shows in the overall state of health.

The main reason for which we do not consume as much gelatin as our grandparents did is reduced to the fact that modern diets do not have a nose-to-tail eating approach to food, which means that nowadays we rarely consume animal parts that are high in gelatin, including tendons and skin.

In the past, people cooked and ate as much of the animal as possible, consuming the organ meats and cooking the bones to obtain broth. Modern diets only use muscle meats, which results in missing out on the nourishment other parts of the animal can provide. Today, many people associate gelatin with Jell-o, a dessert that comes packed with artificial colors and sugar, and do not have a clue about what to do with real gelatin.

Gelatin is the only protein with the power to thicken liquids as you can see when you roast or sauté meat. The drippings in the bottom of the pan owe their consistency to gelatin. That viscosity is what allows you to boil those juices into a semi-thick sauce or make a roux by adding flour which can be added to soups and stews as a natural thickening agent.

That slightly sticky solid substance that sets at the bottom of the pan when it cools? That’s the gelatin at work (usually mixed with some fat too).

What is Gelatin?

Gelatin is a form of collagen that has been broken down into smaller particles.  It’s a translucent, flavorless substance that results from the processing of animal bones and connective tissue to break down the collagen into smaller chains. Containing 9 of the 18 essential amino-acids, gelatin is powdered after extraction and it dissolves in hot liquids.

Gelatin can be made by boiling animal bones, tendons and skin in water for many hours.  When you make a bone broth at home, you’re making your own homemade gelatin.  You can even see a top layer of gelatin on the surface of the broth after you refrigerate it!

Basically what’s happening when you boil it is the complex collagen chains are being broken down into smaller chains that the body can absorb more easily.

Like in its natural meat state, the powdered gelatin becomes more solid as it cools, and for this reason is often used in recipes that require coagulation of the ingredients, including gelatin dessert, marshmallows, and some kinds of dips, yogurt, and ice cream. Gelatin that is used in the food industry generally has colorings, sweeteners and flavorings added to make it more appealing to consumers.

Not All Gelatins Are Created Equal!

Even though all gelatins are derived from animal bones, not all of them are created equal. You may have noticed gelatin in your local supermarket, but even though that is often the cheapest version available and very tempting to buy, this kind of gelatin usually comes from unhealthy animals that become sick and overweight due to their living conditions.

Most livestock are fed with genetically modified grains instead of grass to reduce costs, and because animals live in unnatural conditions, they are often pumped with antibiotics to reduce the risk of infections. Just like in humans, antibiotics lead to imbalanced gut flora and weight gain.

Besides providing low-quality gelatin, mainstream factory practices are also detrimental to the environment, so products obtained in this manner are best to be avoided. To get the most benefits from gelatin, look for products obtained from grass-fed beef, in order to eliminate the risks associated with products derived from livestock living in improper conditions.

Depending on the way you decide to use gelatin, there are two main types to choose from. For creating desserts and snacks with a “gummy” structure, you should use a type of gelatin that requires hot water to dissolve. If you want to dissolve gelatin in cold liquids, you can use a type of gelatin with a smaller molecular structure that dissolves into cold water. The latter kind is generally flavorless and does not have a gel-like consistency, so you can add it safely to your tea or cup of coffee.

What Are the Main Benefits of Consuming Gelatin?

Gelatin has multiple benefits that are amazing for human health, ranging from improving the quality of your skin, teeth, and nails, to boosting your metabolism and helping with hormone balance. Below are some of the top benefits of consuming gelatin:

  • Anti-aging – When we are close to our 30’s, a decrease in collagen starts to occur, so it is essential to add gelatin to your diet after that age in order to help fight the signs of aging. As collagen is too large for the skin to be able to absorb it, skin creams that contain this substance are not useful. By choosing an internal intake of gelatin, you get a good source of natural collagen that can have amazing results for your skin.
  • Cellulite – Caused by a breakdown of collagen, cellulite is often aggravated by nutritional deficiencies. Getting your dose of collagen in the form of gelatin powder or bone broth can transform the way your body looks.
  • Wrinkles – Loss of collagen can lead to degradation of the skin’s elasticity, but adding gelatin to your diet can help you keep up a youthful look. The properties of gelatin can enhance the production of new and non-fragmented collagen, which leads to an improvement in skin health.
  • Digestion and weight loss – As it is packed-full with protein, gelatin can help you feel full quicker, and increase the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, so it can assimilate nutrients needed for digestion quicker.
  • Allergies – Gelatin has properties that are helpful for alleviating sensitivities and allergic reactions, and it can keep out pathogens that cause allergies as well.
  • High metabolism – By increasing the amount of gelatin in your diet, you can boost your metabolism by building and maintaining muscle. This is true whether you choose to consume more foods high in gelatin or if you take gelatin supplements.
  • Liver detox – Because it is high in glycine, an essential amino-acid, gelatin contributes to liver detoxification, which is very important in a world where exposure to chemicals is high.
  • Strong bones – nutritional choices can improve or damage the structure of our bones. Gelatin contains multiple elements that make it easy for the bones to digest magnesium, calcium, silicon, phosphorus, sulphur, and trace minerals.
  • Healthy heart – one of the most beneficial roles gelatin plays in the body is the neutralization of chemical compounds that we acquire by eating meat. If your diet is high or low in animal proteins – i.e. you have a diet high in meat/eggs or are a vegetarian/vegan, you want to consume gelatin to make sure you are balancing the important amino acids by healthy amounts.
  • Arthritis support – Studies have shown that small doses of cartilage, which are readily available in animal bones, can improve degenerative joint conditions and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Protection of joints – gelatin has been known to protect joint health and reduce inflammation, and for this reason, bodybuilders have been using it for decades to improve their performance. By increasing your intake of gelatin, you may keep your joints pain-free and healthy.
  • Improving the quality of sleep – several clinical studies have shown that people generally sleep better when they consume gelatin, as the substance enhances the cognitive function and results in less daytime drowsiness as well.
  • Speeding up wound healing – by consuming gelatin on a regular basis, you can improve the anti-inflammatory function of the body, which results in any wounds healing better and quicker.

How to Get More Gelatin in Your Diet?

There are multiple ways of getting more gelatin in your diet. One of the easiest of them is to cook your own homemade bone broths, making sure to use bones from grass-fed and pastured animals. If you are more interested in something sweet, you could try some homemade fruit snacks simply by mixing powdered gelatin and fruit juice. You can also employ high-quality gelatin to create tasty desserts that go from mousses to homemade Jell-O’s and puddings.

Gelatin powder is very versatile, so you can try to add some of it while cooking some of your favorite foods that you wouldn’t think they require any gelatin. For example, you can add a bit of gelatin to the next stew or soup you make. To create a healthy drink supplement, you may add powdered collagen to juices, water, or teas. Other ideas include adding gelatin to your smoothies instead of a protein powder.

Homemade fruit snacks that use grapefruit, lemon, orange, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and many other substances in combination with gelatin are a delicious way to introduce gelatin in your diet. You can even incorporate gelatin in hot drinks such as your favorite cup of tea or coffee, into your breakfast oatmeal, and in most of the delicious goodies you bake for your family, including muffins, pancakes and more.

Is hydrolyzed collagen the same as gelatin?

Introducing collagen in your diet is essential for a healthy living, and even though both gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen have great effects, the fact that the former is readily available in the form of supplements, like Collagen Complete, makes it a more attractive option for more people.

Both gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen are derived from collagen, one of the most abundant proteins in the human body. Because gelatin is actually boiled collagen that has been dried and turned into a powder, the result is the same you would find in a homemade bone broth. By heating cooked collagen to high temperatures and treating it with enzymes, hydrolyzed collagen is obtained.

The high temperatures and enzymes break the bonds between amino acids while keeping them intact. Due to the process of turning collagen into a dry powder, it is easier to digest because the body can absorb it faster. For this reason, hydrolyzed collagen works perfectly for people with digestion problems. Because hydrolyzed collagen is easy to digest, more than 90 percent of it gets absorbed by the body within 6 hours of ingestion. Most of it is accumulated in skin and cartilage, as well as in the small peptides in the blood.

Hydrolyzed collagen contains 18 essential amino acids, including the very important proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. Studies have shown that orally ingested hydrolyzed collagen rises the density of collagen in the human skin, which eventually results in improved smoothness, moisture, and skin elasticity.

Another benefit of hydrolyzed collagen is that is works well for preventing skin damage from UVA and UVB sunlight exposure. The substance also raises the levels of skin collagen types I and IV, which possibly lessens the aging changes in the skin. The results of a study published by Michael Schunck et al. in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2015 show that ingesting hydrolyzed collagen on a regular basis leads to an improvement of the skin in the case of women suffering from moderate cases of cellulite.

Moreover, hydrolyzed collagen is shown to act as an internal sunscreen, which means by consuming it, you can protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays. This is particularly important for those who do not have the habit of using sunscreen protection on a daily basis.

Hydrolyzed collagen has already proved its nutritional and therapeutic value via clinical studies and it is one of the traditional remedies that do wonders for your skin, joints, digestion, and so much more. There are no side effects associated with the consumption of this substance, which means that collagen is safe to be consumed by adults, children, and animals alike. The substance is used in veterinary medicine as well, as it has been shown that it contributes to the regeneration of cartilage and tissues.

Whether you are a vegetarian or not, introducing this key substance in your diet is essential for making sure you do not miss out on any of the health benefits our grandparents enjoyed because they had a more balanced and complete diet.

Having access to gelatin, collagen or hydrolyzed collagen found in Collagen Complete helps increase the absorption of amino acids whether you over- or under-consume animal products.

About the Author

Dr. France Carpentier has over forty years of experience as a healthcare professional. She started as a Registered Nurse in Quebec, Canada, which was followed by over thirty years as a Chiropractor in Florida. She has always had a focus on nutrition using a holistic approach to health and wellness.