Gelatin experiences new popularity as a modern health food

Jennifer McGregor talks here about gelatin and its new use as a health food. Can it help with protecting joints, improving mood and heart health? Read on to find out more.

Decades ago, most people knew gelatin as the binding agent in molds of neon-colored jelly-like substances studded with chunks of fruits and vegetables, or as the secret ingredient in those little chocolate pudding cups. Today, though, gelatin is back on the scene—this time as a key component of a healthy diet.

As many Americans search for all-natural solutions to countless diseases and disorders, many are finding that sticky, gelatinous quality of gelatin—made from the dried and ground skin, bones and tissues of animals—is good for more than just thickening jellies, desserts and candies.

In fact, the extreme popularity of bone broth is due, in part, to the gelatin it contains, which is known for its numerous health benefits. Here are a few:

Protects joints

Research shows that, when supplementing with gelatin, people suffering from arthritis, joint pain or other bone-related issues can see symptoms improve.

Research shows that, when supplementing with gelatin, people suffering from arthritis, joint pain or other bone-related issues can see symptoms improve.

That’s because the gelatin can help reduce and prevent inflammatory responses in the joints, which reduces pain and stops further degeneration.

Improves mood

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 18% of the American population (a total of 40 million adults) suffers from some form of anxiety disorder.

That’s a lot of prescriptions, but gelatin can provide an all-natural treatment. Gelatin contains the amino acid glycine, which is considered an ‘inhibitory neurotransmitter’. That means it essentially exhibits some of the same characteristics of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant meds—but without the side effects.

Maintains heart health

Heart disease is still the number one killer of men and women in the United States, and at least some of that can be attributed to the high amounts of animal products in the standard American diet.

These foods are high in the amino acid methionine which, in excess, increases the amount of homocysteine in the blood, ultimately increasing the risk for heart disease.

For people who don’t want to give up on meat altogether, one of the best ways to lower homocysteine’s effect on the body is to consume more gelatin, which works to neutralize those compounds.

Keeps you fuller, longer

The battle of the bulge is ongoing in the United States, and, for most people, their biggest hurdle in conquering excess weight is squelching cravings. Like other sources of protein (it’s almost pure protein, at 98-99% by dry weight), research has shown that gelatin can increase satiety and minimize feelings of hunger.

The difference between gelatin and collagen

Many of gelatin’s key properties are similar to the health benefits of collagen, another animal-derived nutrient that is experiencing a surge in popularity of late.

Many of gelatin’s key properties are similar to the health benefits of collagen, another animal-derived nutrient that is experiencing a surge in popularity of late.

Like gelatin, collagen can improve the health of the joints, skin and hair, while also improving metabolism, aiding detox efforts and reducing the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks.

In fact, most people have likely heard collagen and gelatin mentioned in conjunction with the other. That’s because gelatin is actually derived from collagen.

“When collagen breaks down, it becomes gelatin,” says Dr. Josh Axe, a doctor of chiropractic and natural medicine, and a certified nutrition specialist. “A great example of this is found in bone broth: The bones are loaded with collagen, and as the broth cooks, it breaks down into gelatin. In other words, gelatin is full of the same good stuff as collagen, just in a different form.”

Because it forms the familiar gel when mixed with water, gelatin is best used in cooking and is thus fairly easy to incorporate into the diet. (Collagen, conversely, is best taken in supplement form.)

In addition to consuming bone broth, people can easily purchase organic, grass-fed gelatin online or in health food stores and add it to gelatin-based dessert recipes, or even in smoothies.

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