Did you know that there are many health benefits of gelatin? The health benefits of gelatin include improved gut health, skin health, nail health and so much more. But the quality of the gelatin you use is extremely important. Keep reading to learn what kind of gelatin you should be eating daily and more about the health benefits of gelatin.
Health Benefits of Gelatin
One of the first things I tell people when they ask for dietary advice is to stop counting calories. Yes you read that right. Proper nutrition involves so much more than the calorie content of food. The most important thing is the quality of the food you are eating. Basically this comes down to using real ingredients, from reliable, natural, sources. Meats from pasture raised animals, produce free from pesticides and genetically modified seeds, natural, unprocessed sweeteners, un-refined fats and oils... you get the idea. I also believe that including a few, high quality supplements in your diet can be helpful for achieving optimal health.
Even if you are focusing on eating real, healthy food, it is still easy to become vitamin and mineral deficient, and it is also very difficult to eat everything that you should be eating for optimal health every single day. For this reason, one supplement that I personally love and take daily is gelatin or collagen. Grass fed gelatin or collagen to be exact. This is actually one of my favourite superfoods You may remember that gelatin is one of the supplements that helped me heal my acne and keratosis pilaris.
The book Nourishing Traditions outlines the many health benefits of gelatin and I personally eat 2 scoops of powdered grass fed gelatin or collagen per day and try to drink at least one cup of bone broth daily. That's how much I love this stuff.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many health benefits of gelatin including:
- It provides an easily utilized source of collagen which is important for skin elasticity, connective tissues and texture.
- It helps support bone health and joint function and recovery from injury due to its effects on cartilage.
- It can help treat the pain of osteoarthritis.
- It aids in digestion and helps support the gut lining (in other words, it improves gut health, which we are learning more and more everyday how crucial this is to your overall health).
- The glycine in gelatin can lead to reduced inflammation and can help improve sleep.
- It helps promote healthy nails, skin and hair growth due to the keratin content.
- Is an easily digestible protein source that contains essential amino acids including 18 amino acids (and 6 grams of protein per tablespoon).
- It is a low glycemic index food meaning it's great for those watching their blood sugar, or with type or or type 2 diabetes.
- Animal studies show that collagen supplementation can even help with weight loss.
I wanted to talk a little more about a few of those health benefits because I think they are so important.
Note, the information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice. Always check with your own doctor or health care practitioners before making any diet or supplement changes.
Improves Gut Health
If you have been following my blog for a while you know how passionate I am about gut health. It's known that gelatin helps prevent intestinal damage and helps improve the quality of the the lining of the digestive tract, helping to decrease intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Leaky gut is being linked to more and more health problems everyday. Everything from autoimmune diseases to obesity to neurological problems. In fact, many medical practitioners, including myself, believe that leaky gut is one of the major causes of most the of health issues that we are facing today. If your gut isn't healthy, you won't be healthy. It's as simple as that.
In fact, gelatin administration has been shown to help treat colitis in animal models of IBD (reference) and it has been shown to help decrease intestinal permeability in humans as well (reference; reference).
Gelatin can improve your ability to produce gastric acid, which is needed for proper food digestion and nutrient absorption. Glycine from gelatin can also help restore the stomach mucosal lining and help improve the balance of digestive enzymes and stomach acid. If you don’t make the proper amount of digestive enzymes or stomach acid, this can lead to many digestive issues including nutrient deficiencies, acid reflux, bloating, indigestion, as well as anemia.
Can Help Treat Arthritis
If you guys didn't know I am a rheumatologist. That means I see a ton of patients with arthritis. Now, I mainly see patients with rheumatoid arthritis but I do have some patients with osteoarthritis as well. And while there haven't been a ton of studies looking at the role of gelatin in arthritis, there is evidence that taking it can improve the pain associated with osteoarthritis (reference; reference). It has also been shown to decrease joint pain in athletes (reference). Unfortunately, I couldn't find any studies that had shown gelatin to be beneficial in patients with rheumatoid arthritis but by improving gut function I do believe that gelatin could indirectly help patients with rheumatoid arthritis as well (and a few of my patients who take it swear it has helped their pain).
Now, there isn't a ton of evidence for this one. But I wanted to include this potential health benefit for one main reason: many people have trouble with sleep, and the drugs that are often prescribed to help with sleep can have some pretty negative long term health effects and addictive properties, so anything we can use to help decrease the use of those medications is worth exploring if you ask me. I could only find one study showing benefit of using gelatin before bed as a sleep aid, but it did show promising results (reference).
Improves Skin Health
You guys all know how much I care about skin health. As someone who has suffered from pretty terrible keratosis pilaris (read How I Healed My Keratosis Pilaris Naturally and How to Treat Keratosis Pilaris with Diet) and adult acne (read How I Healed My Acne Naturally) I have done a lot of research over the years on what can be done to improve skin health. And when it comes to skin health one of my favourite supplements is gelatin or collagen peptides. Collagen is considered a primary building block for skin and is partially responsible for giving skin a youthful, healthy appearance. Gelatin is important for renewing skin cells and can also help block your skin from UV light damage (in other words, the damage that can lead to wrinkles, sun spots and even skin cancer). As we age, skin naturally loses some of its collagen content, which is part of the reason why we develop wrinkles. Consuming more gelatin is an easy and natural way to help stimulate new collagen production, not only restoring the skin’s durability, but also helping you maintain strong hair, nails and teeth as well.
How To Add Gelatin To Your Diet
Now that we have reviewed how gelatin can improve your health I wanted to teach you how to actually use it. There are many ways to add more gelatin to your diet. Some of my favourite include:
- Drinking bone broth made with the bones from grass fed or pasture raised animals (you can make your own or buy it here).
- Adding powdered, grass fed gelatin (also known as collagen peptides) to coffee, smoothies or other drinks.
- Make homemade gummy candies using grass fed gelatin powder.
- Adding powdered grass fed gelatin to your recipes including soups, stews, sauces and dips.
- Adding powdered grass fed gelatin to your oatmeal (like my Paleo Caramel Apple Oatmeal, Paleo Raspberry Oatmeal or Paleo Coconut Blueberry Oatmeal).
- Making recipes that specifically incorporate grass fed gelatin such as my Chocolate Raspberry Bliss Smoothie Bowl, AIP Plantain Waffles and Banana Chocolate Muffin Bites.
Now, not all brands of gelatin are created equal. I recommend using gelatin or collagen supplements that comes from pasture raised (grass fed) animals or wild marine life.
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4. Effect of the novel low molecular weight hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract, BioCell Collagen, on improving osteoarthritis-related symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
7. Subjective effects of glycine ingestion before bedtime on sleep quality