Last month I posted on “Three of the Many Wonderful Benefits of Collagen.” If you did not see that post, or you are new to the blog, you can check it out here! Today I am going to dive in to the topic of Gelatin and share some great facts, as well as a couple of my favorite recipes and ways to incorporate more gelatin into your diet.
Often times gelatin and collagen are used interchangeably and many people think they are one and the same thing. However, gelatin and collagen are indeed different, both with their own purposes and special health benefits. So let us jump in to gelatin and the amazing goodness that it is! (1)
If you have ever had Jell-O, gummy candies, jellies, or other desserts, you have already come into contact with gelatin, whether you knew it or not! Now, of course this is a nourishing food blog, so likely many of us don’t eat a lot of the above “goodies”, but gelatin is everywhere – it is also even commonly used to form capsules for various supplements.
Essentially gelatin is powder made from dehydrating various parts of animals, usually skin, tissue, and bones. You might be thinking, “yuck”!! But before you lose your appetite completely to gelatin, let me tell you that the powder is virtually odorless and tasteless. You won’t even know what you are eating!
Gelatin is a protein derived from collagen. This is how collagen and gelatin get used so interchangeably and often mixed up. However, gelatin is actually the heated or broken down form of collagen, and does not have as many amino acids as collagen does. Nonetheless, gelatin is still wonderful for a variety of things, and in fact, gelatin may be the best option for starting off, especially if your gut is inflamed or leaky. (2)
First off, gelatin is easier to digest than collagen. It is very soothing and healing to the intestinal mucosa and the amino acid Glycine also helps balance stomach acid and digestive enzyme levels. If your body does not make the proper balance of digestive enzymes and stomach acid, you can suffer from a host of issues such as acid reflux, (which can lead to GERD- gastrointestinal reflux disease), nutrient deficiencies from your food not being broken down well enough and absorbed, indigestion, bloating, inflammation, and of course “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability, which leads to a whole host of its own health ramifications such as autoimmune disease. Now you can see why things so simple as stomach acid and digestive enzymes are so crucial for overall health. Thankfully, gelatin can play a key role in helping all of this out! (3)
So what are some good ways to incorporate gelatin in to your diet? Of course you can do your best to get it naturally, or you can supplement with it in your favorite recipes, as I do! Probably the best, and my favorite way to get more gelatin in my diet is through making homemade bone broth. I like to follow the recipe in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions cookbook, which is also listed in her spinoff, Nourishing Broth. I am blessed to own both cookbooks, and what I especially appreciate about Nourishing Broth is that it is an entire cookbook devoted to recipes on how to incorporate your gelatinous rich bone broths into your meals!
So back to the bone broth recipe… My favorite to make is chicken, though I do love beef as well! In short, you want to save all the parts from your leftover roasted chicken… bones, necks, organs, and yes, FEET! The feet are by far the most gelatinous part of the chicken and are to be credited for really making your broth gel. I am blessed to live by a pastured farm where I can buy bags of frozen raw chicken feet and I generally dump at least a dozen or more feet into my large 16 quart stock pot, along with the rest of my chicken parts. After you have gotten all of the chicken parts in, throw in a bunch of carrot, celery, and onion scraps. Fill the pot up with water, dump in a couple tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar to help draw the minerals out of the bones, and turn on the heat! Once the water comes to a boil, skim the foam off the top and than set to simmer for 24 hours. In the last 15 minutes or so, you can dump in some unrefined sea salt, as well as a bunch of fresh organic parsley. Strain, and enjoy daily!
As much as I crave my bone broth, it is very time consuming to make, and with all of life’s other demands, I just can’t stock enough to feed the whole family daily. So, in addition I supplement with gelatin, in one way or another, almost daily. My favorite way to incorporate gelatin into my diet is through nourishing homemade gummies. This recipe by Katie at wellnessmama.com is a favorite by kids and adults alike! What I appreciate most about her recipe is that not only does it incorporate gelatin into the diet, but it also has other nourishing foods such as Kombucha and yummy antioxidant rich berries! A world of difference from store bought “fruit snacks.” Also, pictured in this post is a blast from the past with a classic Radiant Life berry jiggler recipe featuring gelatin!
At the end of the day, if time is running short, and there are no gelatin recipes made, nor bone broth in the fridge, I also love to end my days with a warm cup of chamomile tea with a spoonful or two of gelatin powder stirred in. It is important to note that unlike collagen, gelatin gels in cold liquids, so it must be used in hot liquids.
Presently I have both, this gelatin powder from Bernard Jensen as well as this gelatin powder from Vital Proteins on hand and love them both! As always, sourcing is SO important, and both of these are made from healthy cows that have tested negative for BSE/mad cow disease. Vital Proteins beef gelatin (with the green lid) is probably my absolute favorite, and an added bonus is that their cows are completely pasture-raised grazing only on nutritious green grass!
Do you have any favorite ways or recipes to incorporate gelatin in your diet? Share them below!