Gelatin is an amazing food? Yep, it’s true! From homemade chicken stock to cute gummy men, gelatin is a tasty and nutritious superfood that has many health benefits!
So we should be eating lots more lime jell-o, right?
Well, not exactly. There are some kinds that are good for you, and others that you’ll want to stay far, far away from.
Read on to discover the best kinds of gelatin plus a ton of wonderful gelatine recipes. ?
What is gelatin?
Gelatin is a form of protein derived from collagen. It consists of important amino acids, namely glycine and proline, which are the building blocks of protein. When heated and then cooled, gelatin “gels” like jell-o.
What is gelatin made of?
Gelatine is derived from the skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals. You can extract it yourself by making a bone broth, though it may still have a strong meaty taste. You can also buy it already extracted in the form of a powder.
Gelatin vs. collagen: What’s the difference?
Collagen is the protein that is most abundant in our bodies (and those of the animals we consume). It’s what gives our joints and skin elasticity. It’s also important for bone health as well as nail, skin, and hair health. This not typically available commercially as it’s just the raw material that makes gelatin and collagen hydrolysate/peptides.
Gelatin is extracted from collagen, usually by using hot water and acid solutions. This process is called hydrolyzing.
Which brings us to the main question: What’s the difference between gelatin and collagen hydrolysate (also called, collagen peptides)?
Collagen hydrolysate is collagen that has been processed a bit more than it takes to make gelatin so the proteins break up more. This allows it to dissolve in hot or cold liquids and it does not “gel” so it’s more versatile. It does contain the same amino acid profile, so it’s just as nutritious and it makes a great natural protein powder.
Recap: Collagen is the protein in human and other animals bodies. Gelatin is processed collagen. Collagen hydrolysate/peptides (what is available to buy) is further processed to be easier to digest and to not gel.
Benefits of gelatin
The benefits are huge! Gelatine is so amazing for your body, and it is super fun to eat too (as you’ll see in the recipes below).
Here are six of the most important gelatin benefits:
1. Rockstar hair, skin, and nails!
Gelatine is contributes to amazingly soft and supple skin, as well as beautiful and healthy hair and nails.
Signs of aging such as wrinkles and sagging skin are typically caused by lack of collagen. Eating this superfood can help rebuild those amino acids needed for healthy hair, skin, and nails. It helps stimulate new cell turnover and collagen growth, which increases the strength of your skin, hair, and nails. It also protects your skin from the aging effects of sun exposure. (source)
2. Improves gut health
Everywhere you look it seems someone is talking about leaky gut. One great way to avoid it, and even heal leaky gut, is to consume lots of gelatin! (source) This superfood can help build a protective barrier on the intestinal wall that helps keep food from permeating through, which is what happens when you have leaky gut. (source)
When particles pass through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream, the body may see that food as an invader and cause inflammation to kill the invader. This can lead to autoimmune disease or food sensitivities.
Glycine, one of the amino acids present in gelatin, helps balance digestive enzymes and stomach acid levels as well as keeps the mucosal lining of the stomach intact for proper digestion.
In fact, gelatin is so soothing for the intestinal track that it used to be a treatment for Celiac Disease back in the early 1900’s.
Because so many food sensitivities are related to leaky gut, eating more gelatine may help reverse some of these sensitivities as well.
3. Protects the heart
Though humans have evolved to be meat eaters, the way we typically do it can have negative effects on the heart. Eating a lot of muscle meat, as we Westerners do, can cause heart issues due to the higher level of homocysteine in the blood from the higher amount of methionine in muscle meat. (source)
However, eating the whole animal, including organs and, you guessed it, gelatinous parts, balances out the amino acid profile, reducing this risk.
Glycine and proline are particularly anti-inflammatory amino acids that help nourish our bodies. Our ancestors benefited from eating the whole animal versus just boneless, skinless chicken breast, which really isn’t “natural” to be consuming day in and day out.
4. Protects joints
Many athletes and older folks have joint pain and stiffness. Aging, exercise, degenerative diseases, and injuries can all cause this.
Studies show that gelatine consumption can dramatically reduce the inflammation that causes pain and stiffness.
Because gelatin contains the amino acids that are used to build collagen, consuming it helps the body produce enough collagen to repair joints naturally.
5. Improves liver function
Glycine improves the way your liver functions by minimizing the damage caused by eliminating toxins all day. Some folks even swear by bone broth cleanses to improve liver and immune function.
Glycine has been shown to help treat liver diseases such as those caused by drinking.
6. Improves cognitive health
Studies show that when glycine, an amino acid present in gelatin, isn’t properly metabolized, it can result in an increased risk for developmental problems, lethargy, seizures, and mental retardation.
Glycine has also been shown to improve sleep, which helps with cognitive function. The study found that daytime sleepiness and the time it took to fall asleep were reduced. Another study found that glycine can improve memory. Researchers found that “the glycine compound significantly improved both visual and verbal episodic memory retrieval in both [older and younger] groups”.
What’s the best brand or type?
Now that we know all the amazing benefits of this superfood, let’s discuss which one is worth buying (and which ain’t).
- Vital Proteins Gelatin – My favorite grass-fed brand! Vital Proteins products work great and are always fresh. They have so many different kinds of gelatin too, including fish gelatin and beauty water (a collagen drink mix). Click here to see Vital Proteins Gelatin
- Great Lake Gelatin – This is one of just a few brands of gelatin that is grass-fed. However, Great Lakes’ powder doesn’t dissolve as well in liquids as Vital Proteins. Others have noticed a slightly stale smell which may be because it isn’t packaged in an airtight container like other brands. Here’s where to buy Great Lakes Gelatin.
- Bone broth/meat stock – There’s lots of gelatin in homemade broth or stock that is especially easy to digest. If you do have leaky gut or other gut health issues broth or stock may be your best bet. Find out how to make it yourself here.
- Knox Gelatin(e) – Though this product is super cheap, it’s a definite no. Knox likely uses factory farmed animals to make their gelatin. These animals are raised in terrible conditions making them often very unhealthy. (You need healthy animals to make healthy animal products.) Because of these terrible conditions animals are given antibiotics to prevent illnesses and diseases. They likely give hormones to fatten up the animals before slaughter. And GMO feed? Yep, probably. Finally, the animals are treated inhumanely, which is not a practice we want to support! For all of these reasons, knox gelatin is a no, just no.
There are some things you shouldn’t eat during pregnancy, but gelatin is not one of them! In fact, you may want to eat more of this food when pregnant.
This amazing ingredient is an excellent addition to a pregnancy diet since it’s a great source of protein, has anti-inflammatory properties, and can help with sleep (and we all know sleep can be elusive during pregnancy!).
Gelatin is a safe and amazing food to boost your protein stores, which is so important during pregnancy and postpartum.
If you want to add more of this superfood to your diet but aren’t sure how, we’ve compiled some tasty recipes that are not only delicious, but amazingly good for your body!
Kids in particular love the squishiness that many gelatin-rich foods create.
Gelatin during pregnancy
Mama Natural Recipes:
From around the web:
How about you?
What’s your favorite way to eat gelatin?