What is Gelatin?
Gelatin comes from collagen, the soft protein that connects skin, bones, muscles, and tendons.
It’s the stuff that, for a not-so-small-fee, also gets pumped into faces to reduce wrinkles, puff up the lips, and basically give the skin the same bounce as, well, Jell-O.
But where does the collagen that will eventually become gelatin actually come from?
This is where it gets kinda gross.
Collagen is made from animal parts.
But we’re not talking porterhouse steaks, here. Once more expensive and desirable parts of the animal have been removed, you’re left with ears, hides, bones, and skin.
These discarded pig and cattle parts later become your Grandma’s bright green gelatin mold, or those Jell-O shooters you adored freshmen year of college, (or maybe right now, no judgements).
How is Gelatin Made?
Animal carcasses arrive at processing plants after they’ve gone to the slaughterhouse.
Rotting parts are discarded and everything else is chopped up, washed, degreased, and roasted to further dry the pieces out.
The animal pieces are then soaked in a strong acid solution for several days to release minerals and bacteria.
The gelatin is extracted from the animal parts and flash-heated for sterilization purposes. It’s pressed into sheets, dyed, and packaged.
Foods with Gelatin
Gelatin is used in a host of foods including some you may not have suspected. If you’re trying to avoid it, make sure to read the ingredients label to ensure that the product doesn’t contain gelatin.
Here are some food categories that may include gelatin:
- Frosted cereals
- Gelatin dessert (like Jell-O)
- Candies (especially gummy candies)
- Peanuts (coating)
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
- Nondairy creamers
- Throat lozenges
10 Health Benefits of gelatin
1. Muscle maintenance
People who are on bed rest lose a lot of muscle mass during an illness. When gelatin is added to their diets it has the benefit of preserving muscle mass while ill.
It can also be very restorative for athletes that are over training because it contains many amino acids that speed recovery.
2. Lowers Inflammation
Lean protein in excess can be pro-inflammatory but gelatin provides proline and glycine that balance out the tryptophan and Cysteine.
3. Hormone balance
Gelatin provides the amino acid glycine, which helps regulate insulin and prevent hypoglycemia.
Also glycine helps the body to make glutathione, which is crucial for helping to remove excess estrogen.
Excess estrogen comes from several sources such as toxic body care products, environmental pollution, diets high in processed foods and from using hormonal birth control methods.
Estrogen dominance has been studied extensively as a risk factor for female cancers.
4. Strong Bones
Bones are actually living structures that can be built up or broken down daily by our nutritional choices.
Gelatin contains easy to digest calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals which helps build a healthy bone matrix.
5. Arthritis Support
Gelatin contains Chondroitin, which has long been used as supplement for helping people with arthritis pain and stiffness.
Chondroitin found in gelatin supports joints, cartilage and tendons because it is basically the dissolved connective tissue of animals.
It has been discovered that therapeutic doses of cartilage, found in animal bones, (which always contains copious amounts of proline and glycine) dramatically improve rheumatoid arthritis as well as other degenerative joint conditions.
6. High Metabolism
Glycine can be considered a semi-essential amino acid and should be taken as a nutritional supplement to boost metabolism.
Amino acids help people build and maintain muscle, which stokes a healthy metabolism.
Glycine also helps regulate insulin sensitivity keeping people from storing abdominal fat.
Cellulite is caused by a breakdown of collagen, which can be exacerbated by nutritional deficiencies.
Many people take collagen supplements that cost a fortune.
It is much easier and tastier to get collagen in a food form from bone broth and gelatin powder.
8. Weight Loss
Gelatin can potentially increase how much human growth hormone is produced in the body and can also boost metabolism.
Better yet, gelatin is so nutrient-dense that it makes you feel full longer.
Try ending dinner with a gelatin-rich dessert so you have no chance of snacking later on the evening.
9. Helps Heal Wounds
Glycine, an amino acid found in gelatin, is highly anti-inflammatory, and can help speed up recovery of wounds, including scrapes, cuts, burns, and gashes.
10. Improves Digestion
Edible gelatin can help with digestion by binding to water in the stomach and helping food move through the digestive tract with more ease.
Gelatin improves gastric acid secretion and restores the mucus lining in the stomach to a healthier state.
How to Eat Gelatin
The best way to eat gelatin is to combine it with other foods—on its own, it won’t taste good.
The best type of gelatin to use is grass fed gelatin from healthy cows. Your local health food store should carry it; if not, there are online vendors.
Try adding gelatin to smoothies or oatmeal; it can also be used creatively with chicken, seafood and, salads.
You can add gelatin to smoothies or oatmeal, and it can be used creatively with chicken, seafood and, salads. You can also add gelatin to coffee and tea, but you’ll need to drink it quickly before it congeals.
Sauces and gravies are ideal spots to slip in some gelatin because they need to be thick anyway.
And of course you can make your own homemade gelatin dessert with Knox gelatin using flavors you won’t find in the supermarket, such as watermelon.
When you add gelatin to other foods, it allows for better absorption of the nutrients and adds more value to a meal.