Today I would like to talk about gelatin and its health giving properties in the body. Gelatin is often overlooked as part of the modern diet which is a pity given that it would have been included quite a lot in the diets of our early ancestors.
Gelatin is a colourless and tasteless substance derived from the collagen of animal bones. It is commonly used a thickening agent in sauces, for making gummy sweets and capsules of supplements and pharmaceuticals. Gelatin itself is basically just dried and ground up collagen from animal sources. It can be got very easily from making your own bone broth which is something I reguarly do and it is a very nourishing and healing food to make for your whole family to enjoy. Not everyone has the time to make bone broth so adding in gelatin is another great way to boost your intake of collagen.
Many people worry about the source of this collagen, and rightly so. We must ensure the meat the collagen is derived from is good quality and from ethically reared sources. We must remember also that while gelatin is found in commercial jelly and other products this is not the type of collagen we are after. These products are usually from cheap sources of meat collagen and have added sugars and synthetic colourings etc so are not ideal for health.
Gelatin must be from healthy animals who have been reared outside in their ideal environment to avoid pesticides and hormones. This is the brand I use - Great Lakes I have yet to find it in a health foods store here in Ireland yet but if you have found it please let me know. I get mine from Amazon and while it is pricey it will last you a long time.
- Supports hair and nail growth - Collagen is a vital component of skin and tissue and promotes plumped up youthful looking skin. Collagen is often added to anti-aging skin formulations but it is actually too large to make its way in though the skin. It is therefore important we get it internally for it to really work. Collagen begins to deplete from your 20s on which means wrinkles! So throw away those pricey skin creams and try eating collagen instead! It is also rich in calcium, magnesium and phosphorous which are important for healthy nail and hair growth.
- Prevents stretch marks - improves skins firmness and prevents the development of stretch marks
- Liver Detox - Rich in amino acid glycine which is important for detoxification. Inadequate dietary glycine leads to diminished glutathione which is very important for Phase II detoxification.
- Cellulite Removal - Often known as the dreaded "orange peel" this unsightly dimpling of the bum and thighs has been the bane of women's lives for a long time! Expensive creams are marketed and reducing this but rarely work, It is caused by the breakdown of collagen which can be as a result of a dietary deficiency of collagen. Ditch the creams and consume a collagen rich diet instead.
- Joint Support - Contains joint supporting nutrients such as minerals magnesium, calcium and phosphorous) as well as chondroitin which has known benefits in treatment of arthritis.
- Amino Acids - Rich in amino acids which are important for cell repair and build up of lean muscle. I have recently started Crossfit and want to ensure I support both my joints during lifting and boost my protein intake to help me build muscle. Upping my gelatin intake will help me achieve this as it is an easily digestible protein source.
- Gut Healing - Collagen is very important for allowing the gut to "heal and seal". Many people today have a hyper-permeable gut or "leaky gut" which means that the lining of the intestine has become too permeable to proteins entering the blood stream. This leads to food sensitivities, inflammation and possible development of autoimmune disorders. Introducing bone broths and gelatin rich meals can help to prevent and treat this improving the immune system in the process.
Aim to consume bone broth most days and add gelatin to soups, stews and smoothies daily.
Check out my recipe for making bone broth easily at home - here.
Recipe for my collagen rich "Gelatin Coconut Smoothie" below.
1tbsp Great Lakes Unflavoured Collagen
Handful of blueberries
Cup of coconut milk
1tbsp almond butter
Blend until smooth. Drink immediately as the collagen will cause the drink to thicken. Add more coconut milk if necessary.