I started trying to incorporate more gelatin into our lives after I learned about all the benefits from it. Of course, we get some naturally-occurring gelatin in our bone broth, but since we don’t drink broth all the time, I like to find creative ways to incorporate more gelatin into our diet.
What is Gelatin?
Gelatin comes from the structural protein collagen found in many animals. This collagen is a fibrous protein that strengthens the body’s connective tissues and makes up almost one-third of the human body.
As you get older, your body makes less collagen, and individual fibers become increasingly cross-linked with each other. You might experience this as stiff joints from less flexible tendons, or wrinkles due to loss of skin elasticity. Gelatin can come from the collagen in cow or pig bones, hides, and connective tissues.
Because gelatin is primarily composed of the amino acids glycine and proline (something that most people don’t get enough of), adding gelatin to your diet can help your body in many ways. Gelatin is one of my daily supplements in some form or another, and I’m continually amazed at the uses I keep finding for it.
Benefits of Gelatin
- Supports skin, hair and nail growth (Want shiny, strong hair naturally? Take your gelatin!)
- Gelatin can help with overall joint and bone health (and reduce arthritis pain).
- Gelatin can help with the aging process. As we age our bodies make less collagen and gelatin provides more elasticity (like the kind you get after having 3 babies in five years)
- Can improve digestion since it naturally binds to water and helps food move more easily though the digestive track
- Rumored to help improve cellulite
- Great source of dietary collagen (side note: collagen is too large to be absorbed by the skin, so those skin creams are pretty useless… get it internally and use coconut oil for lotion!)
- Source of protein (though not a spectacular one) but its specific amino acids can help build muscle.
So Gelatin is a wonderful supplement for health, but I’ve also found a plethora of culinary and other uses. Here are a few of my favorites:
① Hair Treatment
I got this tip from Pinterest and have been amazed at what an intensive conditioning and strengthening treatment it is!
How to Do:
- To make, stir 1 tablespoon of Gelatin powder into 1/2 cup of cool water until mixed.
- Add 1/2 cup warm/hot water, 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of honey to create a thick gel/liquid.
- Pour into hair and massage through hair and scalp. Leave on for at least 5 minutes and rinse with hot water. Shampoo as normal.
It is suggested to do this up to a few times a week to get desired hair thickness/strength and then once a week for maintenance.
② Thickening Shampoo
If you want thicker/stronger hair, adding a teaspoon of gelatin powder to your shampoo can give your hair that boost. It will also add texture and volume to hair immediately.
If you use a homemade shampoo like mine, you will only need to add about 1/2 tsp to a small batch. If you use a regular bottle shampoo, you can add a teaspoon or more for the desired effect!
③ Wrinkle Reducer
You know those $50+ wrinkle reducer miracle creams that don’t work? Save a lot of money by just taking gelatin internally each day and using coconut oil for skin care! Gelatin is essentially cooked, powdered collagen (that ingredient they charge you an arm and a leg for that doesn’t even work well externally…).
Taking Gelatin internally provides the body the building blocks to build great skin, hair, and nails from the inside out and helps reduce wrinkles and stretch marks.
④ Skin Mask
Gelatin is most effective when used internally, but even externally, it can smooth and strengthen skin.
Mix 1 tablespoon Gelatin Powder with 2 tablespoons warm water and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and apply to face. Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse with warm water.
⑤ Weight Loss
I haven’t tried it specifically for this purpose, but I’ve found forums of athletes and body builders who use plain gelatin powder for weight loss and maintenance, as they claim that it can boost Human Growth Hormone production and boost metabolism.
In my opinion, Gelatin has enough other health benefits that it would be worth trying for this purpose too, even if the only result is better skin, hair, nails, joints, digestion, etc.
The protocol for weight loss is to stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime, and then consume at least 1 tablespoon of gelatin powder right before bed. These guys chewed it straight, but I’d highly recommend mixing into a cup of chamomile tea by dissolving in about 1/3 cup cool water and then adding 2/3 cup of warm tea. Much better texture and taste!
⑥ Joint Help
Gelatin also provides the building blocks for healthy joints and people with arthritis, joint injuries or joint pain might notice a substantial difference from incorporating Gelatin rich foods and supplements. Even WebMD talks about the joint uses of Gelatin:
“Gelatin is used for weight loss and for treating osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and brittle bones (osteoporosis). Some people also use it for strengthening bones, joints, and fingernails. Gelatin is also used for improving hair quality and to shorten recovery after exercise and sports-related injury.”
⑦ In/From Homemade Bone Broth
The most cost effective and nutrient dense way to consume Gelatin is in the form of homemade bone broth or stock. Of couse, bone broth isn’t as good for making marshmallows, gummy vitamins, jello or hair masks, but it is an inexpensive way to consume Gelatin.
I also add Gelatin powder to soups and stews for an extra gelatin boost, but if you don’t want to attempt all the other uses, at least consider incorporating homemade bone broth into your daily diet. Your gut will thank you!
⑧ DIY Children’s Vitamins
Most store bought chewable vitamins have a lot of sugar, dyes and additives in them. These homemade chewable vitamins are a great alternative, plus your kids will get the benefits of Gelatin too!
- 8 teaspoons Gelatin Powder (I use this one because I have verified that it is from healthy grass-fed sources)
- ½ cup juice (fresh squeezed or no sugar added) Pineapple will not work
- 2 tablespoons of honey (optional)
- Vitamins of choice. try Vitamin C, Probiotics, Magnesium
- In a small sauce pan over low heat, mix the juice, gelatin and honey and whisk to incorporate.
- Heat slightly until gelatin is completely dissolved- it will be thick and somewhat syrup-like.
- Remove from heat and whisk in vitamins, if using.
- Very quickly pour into molds or even a small glass dish (oil with coconut oil) and put in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden.
- Remove and pop out of molds. Cut into squares if needed.
- Serve and enjoy! Tell the kids that they are gummy bears and they won’t even know that are getting vitamins!
⑨ Homemade Jello
Homemade jello packets have some nasty fake ingredients, but it is simple to make a healthy version at home. With homemade Jello, you can customize the flavors, add vitamins, or even use water kefir or kombucha as the base for a vitamin and probiotic boost!
⑩ Digestive Aid
Digestive issues or Constipation?
It is recommended to eat gelatin (usually in the form of homemade bone broth) as a digestive aid, as it can help sooth and help heal the digestive track and I’ve also seen daily gelatin help keep bowels regular and smooth.
⑪ Hormone’s Help
Too much estrogen in the body (which can be caused by all sorts of reasons including hormonal imbalances, over exposure to phytoestrogens like those found in soy, and xenoestrogens found in plastics) can cause inflammation, infertility and promote accelerated aging. The wonderful, and seemingly endless benefits of gelatin have anti-estrogenic effects which can help offset the effects of excess estrogen in the body.