If you are a child of the 80’s like me, than I am certain your mom made plenty of Jello molds and Jello gigglers. If you were really lucky that Jello mold might have contained added fruit, or better yet marshmallows! These days I am not really a fan of Jello (or marshmallows for that matter), but I am a fan of gelatin – which is what makes that Jello gel, and giggle.
What is Gelatin, and how is it made?
Gelatin is a protein that is derived from collagen. Gelatin is mostly made of up amino acids that come from dehydrated animal parts – skin, bones, organs, and connective tissues. Sounds gross I know, but the good news is that gelatin is basically odorless, colorless, and tasteless.
Our modern society does not consume these parts of the animal anymore. We don’t eat nose to tail like we used to, and tend to focus mostly on muscle meats. Because we eat mostly muscle meats, we don’t get all of the benefits from the amino acids (Namely Glycine) found in organ meat, skin, connective tissue, and bones. Glycine which makes up 1/3 of the amino acids in gelatin is said to be anti-inflammatory, aid in digestion, and help protect cartilage and joint health.
Traditionally you would get a lot of gelatin/collagen from eating all parts of the animal, and from drinking bone broth daily – since that is just not realistic for most people collagen and gelatin powders are an excellent way to still received the benefits they provide.
Just a Few Benefits of Gelatin
- Good for your joint health: As we age our own collagen starts to break down which can result in pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Gelatin and collagen both high in glycine help to reduce these inflammatory responses and reduce pain.
- Skin, hair, and nails: Collagen and gelatin are the building blocks to great skin. As we age our collagen stores begin to deplete, which leads to fine lines, cellulite, and loose skin. I have definitely noticed better nail growth, and skin health since taking collagen on a regular basis.
- Great for gut health and digestion: Gelatin has the ability to coat the lining of the digestive tract, which can help prevent leaky gut syndrome. It has also been used in treatment for intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s and colitis. Your gut is one of the first lines of defense in keeping your body healthy. If your gut is healthy it will keep bacteria, and food particles in the gut where they belong. However, if you have a damaged gut lining these things can leak into your bloodstream which can lead to inflammation and other issues. Gelatin can keep your gut healthy, and even help to repair a damaged one.
Types Collagen and Gelatin, and where to find it
Collagen and Gelatin are very similar in that they contain the same amino acids. However, gelatin is actually derived from collagen and is therefore a more broken down form of collagen. Gelatin also “Gels” foods (Think Jello) while collagen does not, so it’s a better choice to add to cold drinks.
Now, I know I have mentioned Jello here as source of gelatin, but DO NOT go run to the store and grab a box of Jello. That is NOT the kind of gelatin you want to consume. When selecting a brand of gelatin/collagen it’s very important to source it from a responsible company. Knowing where gelatin comes from (Bone, skin, organs, and connective tissues of animals) you want to make sure that you are consuming a brand that provides gelatin from grass-fed and pasture raised animals. There are a few brands I use and recommend that come from grass-fed, and pasture raised animals:
- Gelatin – best used in hot drinks, soups, sauces, and anything you want to gel such as homemade jello, homemade marshmallows, and homemade fruit snacks. Do not use gelatin in COLD liquids it will gel them. Here are the two brands of gelatin I use – Great Lakes and Vital Proteins
- Collagen – dissolves easily in cold and hot liquids. Can add to smoothies, sauces, soups, coffee, iced beverages. Does not gel. Here are the two brands of collagen I use and love – Great Lakes and Vital Proteins
How to use Gelatin and Collagen
I add collagen to my daily morning beverage, whether it’s coffee or tea, hot or cold. It dissolves well, and is tasteless. I will also add collagen to sauces and soups. I use gelatin mostly for making homemade fruit snacks for my kids, and I also add it to hot beverages, hot soups and sauces. I keep a container of it on my counter top right next to the stove so I always see it, and always remember to add it to our meals.
Have you ever used collagen before? What are some of your favorite recipes for using it?