When you think of superfoods, you probably picture kale, berries and things that are hard to pronounce, like acai. You probably don’t think of gelatin and Jell-O.
Honestly, the artificially colored and flavored dessert associated with your childhood is not a superfood. However, gelatin, the foundation on which Jell-O is based, is a superfood with many health benefits.
What Exactly is Gelatin?
Gelatin is a clear, tasteless substance that comes from animal collagen. It is used to help bind particles in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
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Powdered gelatin is obtained from boiling animal bones and other byproducts, such as skin and ligaments. Boiling these animal parts produces a collagen-rich broth that is then dehydrated and ground.
According to PopSugar, some people are grossed out by the idea that animal byproducts are found in their gummy bears. However, if you’re not a vegetarian or a vegan, you probably consume animal protein on a daily basis anyway.
Health advocates know that gelatin contains 18 amino acids and a number of health benefits. We explain some of them below.
How is Gelatin Good For Your Health?
1. Supports healthy skin
Some people, like Mommypotamus, say that gelatin has benefits for the skin that are better than Botox.
Collagen is what gives your skin elasticity and plumpness. As you age, you experience a reduction in collagen, which can lead to sagginess and wrinkles. Consuming gelatin can stimulate the production of collagen in your body. It can also prevent the decline of collagen that leads to older-looking skin.
Examine.com explains that hydrolyzed collagen, a type of gelatin, is considered to be an effective supplement for skin health. Taking gelatin as a supplement can encourage your skin to produce more hyaluronic acid, a compound that can help your skin retain moisture and maintain a youthful appearance.
2. Helps prevent stretch marks
The collagen-boosting properties of gelatin can help prevent stretch marks. This can be significant for pregnant mothers or people who are planning to lose a great deal of weight.
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Some beauty products claim that the gelatin that they contain can be applied topically for stretch mark improvement. However, the particles are too large to be absorbed by the skin. Collagen must be taken internally to have skin-improving benefits.
3. Helps reduce cellulite
While we’re on the subject of skin, let’s go a little deeper. Cellulite, that lumpy appearance that shows up most often on the butt and thighs, is caused by a breakdown in connective tissue. Research shows that eating gelatin can strengthen connective tissue and reduce cellulite.
4. Supports healthy intestines
When your gut is healthy, your intestines are lined with mucus that’s rich with a balance of microbes. These microbes protect you from disease, help your body absorb nutrients and promote efficient digestion.
Research shows that consuming gelatin can encourage the growth of a healthy intestinal mucosa, even if it has been damaged. The typical Western diet is full of chemically processed foods and sugar that can damage the intestinal lining. This can lead to problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and leaky gut syndrome. Taking gelatin along with a healthy diet filled with minimal sugar and processed foods can help heal any damage that is preventing you from obtaining optimal health.
5. Reduces joint pain
Whether you’re an athlete or have arthritis, eating gelatin can reduce the pain in your joints. Experts say that gelatin can help heal joint damage, tears in cartilage and inflammation. Gelatin can help speed up recovery time after an intense workout or sports injury.
6. Aids in Weight Loss
Gelatin can be used for weight loss, according to WebMD. The protein can help fill you up and reduce cravings after a meal. In addition, the type of protein provided by gelatin is different than that provided by muscle meat, according to biologist Ray Peat. It can help with inflammation, insulin regulation and hormone balancing, all factors that may be associated with trouble losing weight.
7. Helps you sleep
Studies show that gelatin can help improve your restorative sleep cycles. You may not feel sleepier or go to sleep more rapidly if you consume gelatin before bed, but you may sleep better.
8. Reduces anxiety
Gelatin contains glycine, a neurotransmitter that is known for its ability to lower stress. Glycine works to counteract norepinephrine, a hormone that makes you feel panicky and causes your heart to race. Gelatin can help encourage mental calmness, according to nutritionists.
What Kind of Gelatin Should You Buy?
Gelatin is perhaps most readily available in packets in the baking section of the grocery store. However, experts say that the best kind comes from grass-fed cows or organic bone broth that you can make yourself. Many commercial gelatins are not made from high-quality, clean animal parts.
You can buy grass-fed gelatin powder in bulk online. Hydrolyzed gelatin is broken down into its amino acids, making it more bioavailable as a protein source or for joint or skin health. Hydrolyzed gelatin dissolves even when mixed with cold liquids.
Whole protein gelatin will not dissolve unless it’s mixed with hot liquids. This is the type of gelatin that will gel up, which makes it beneficial for coating your gut or for making gummies or gelatin snacks.
If you want to make your own collagen-rich broth, simmer raw chicken, beef or pork bones in water with a splash of apple cider vinegar for 12 to 24 hours. You’ll know that the bone broth contains a lot of collagen when it turns to jelly in your refrigerator. Experts recommend using organic meat bones to make your own broth.