As a teenager I remember Jujubes being one of my favorite treats. I ‘may’ have even bought large sacks of them from 7/11 and chowed down while watching a movie on VHS (yes, I said VHS! Remember those?).
It all changed for me one day when one of my friends (who was flirting with vegetarianism) blurted out: “Did you know that the gelatin in those things actually comes from horse hooves?” My love affair with Jujubes and all things gummy came to a screeching halt right there and then, which in retrospect was definitely a blessing in disguise!
It wasn’t until a few years ago while I was beginning my transition to a traditional diet, that I came across gelatin again. In fact, Nourishing Traditions speaks of it as an integral part of a healthy diet as it was revered by many traditional cultures but…
What is Gelatin….Really?
Before delving into this post any further, I would like to address my vegetarian and vegan friends. I know this topic can be disturbing to you (I too was vegetarian once, I totally get it), however in saying that, I hope that despite our clear difference of certain opinions (*ah hem) we can remain friends cuz we have plenty of other things in common. 🙂
If you’ve ever made chicken stock from scratch, you’ve inadvertently (or intentionally) consumed gelatin. Gelatin is flavorless, and transluscent. It is a cooked/processed form of the structural protein called collagen. It is derived from the connective tissue, bones and hides of animals, thus making a bone broth (that you simmer for 12-48 hours) yields a nourishing liquid rich in gelatin.
Of course, the quality of the meat you are using is paramount. If using beef, I always buy local, organic, grass fed, humanely treated soup bones. I source out a local, organic chicken supplier as well. Factory meat is so hormonally and otherwise unbalanced that I would not advise using those bones to make a gelatin rich stock.
If you’re not up for making your own gelatin or would like a quality powdered source, this is the one I use because I have verified that it comes from pastured, grass fed cattle. A bonus to using a powdered form is that it allows for many creative recipes to sneak gelatin into your kids and yourself!
What Makes It So Great?
These days we like to eat fat free, muscle meat (boneless chicken breasts, steak etc…), thus loading up not only on protein but also tryptophan. Tryptophan can cause inflammation in the body (like we need more of that!). By ignoring the value of the entire animal (bones, organs) we miss out on many benefits, namely gelatin.
Gelatin contains 9 of the 18 amino acids that we require. The main ones being Glycine (35%), Proline and Hydroxyproline (21%), and Alanine (11%). Glycine is anti-inflammatory and is required by the liver to help eliminate toxins. Gelatin also contains protein.
But What Can It Do For ME?
That’s a great question! I clearly remember asking this very question of my (much more well versed) friend, early in my transition to traditional eating. The list of benefits is really quite impressive and dare I say exhaustive?
Gelatin therapy has been found referenced in China as far back as the first century. An interesting tidbit from Nourishing Traditions explains that folk wisdom revered chicken broth as a valuable remedy for the flu. It was even prescribed as a treatment for colds and asthma in the 12th century. Modern research has deemed the reason as simple: gelatin!
Our own bodies contain collagen but when it comes to arthritis and other conditions our own collagen stores can become depleted, hence the importance of including it into our diet daily.
Are you ready for a rather impressive list of gelatin’s benefits? Here goes :
- Gelatin improves digestion when consumed with cooked food. It naturally binds to water and allows food to move along easier.
- Gelatin can help reduce inflammation in the body (ie. arthritis) by repairing cartillage and connective tissues.
- Gelatin can help speed wound healing because glycine helps reduce inflammation.
- Gelatin has an antistress and calming effect on the body.
- Gelatin helps promote sleep (when taken before bed). source
- Gelatin promotes recovery from strokes and seizures, and helps to improve learning and memory.
- Gelatin can help with hairloss in men and women.
- Gelatin can help slow down the signs of aging.
- Gelatin can help with detoxification.
- Gelatin has been used to treat diabetes for over 100 years. source
- Gelatin can improve the quality of your skin, nails and hair.
- Gelatin can help ward off infections and help balance hormones.
- Gelatin can also help with colitis, dysentery, ulcers, celiac disease, weight loss etc…
Other Than Broth, How Can I Get More Gelatin Into My Diet?
A few of my favorite gelatin recipes are:
Marshmallows (as shown…yummers!)
Paleo Coconut Chocolate Mousse