Gelatin is one of my daily supplements. I am continually amazed at the uses I keep finding for it. According to Nourishing Traditions and the majority of the information I’ve read from the Weston A. Price foundation, some of the various health benefits to Gelatin, includes:
– Supports skin, hair and nail growth
– Good for joints and can help joint recovery
– Can help tighten loose skin (like the kind you get after having 7 babies in 12 years 😳 including 3 at one time…)
– 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.
Gelatin is largely composed of the amino acids glycine and proline, which many people don’t consume in adequate amounts as they are found in the bones, fibrous tissues and organs of animals and as a population, we don’t consume these parts as much anymore. These amino acids are needed not only for proper skin, hair and nail growth, but for optimal immune function and weight regulation!
Glycine, which makes up about 1/3 of the amino acids in gelatin powder is anti-inflammatory and evidence is finding that it can help speed wound healing. Glycine in gelatin can also help improve sleep ease and quality. So Gelatin is a wonderful supplement for health, but I’ve also found a plethora of culinary and other uses lately! Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Homemade Fruit Jellies
This is definitely my kids’ favorite use of gelatin. The only ingredients are honey, gelatin and frozen fruit, so they are a great alternative to store bought treats.
2. Hair Treatment
I got this tip from Pinterest and have been amazed at what an intensive conditioning and strengthening treatment it is! To make, stir 1 tablespoon of Gelatin powder in to 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. Wash 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.
3. 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! There are endless flavor combinations, and They are simple to make at home!
4. Thickening Shampoo (or conditioner if you co-wash)
If you want thicker/stronger hair, adding a teaspoon of gelatin powder to your shampoo or conditioner can give your hair that boost. It will also add texture and volume to hair immediately. If you use 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 desired effect!
5. 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 (my favorite) as the base for a vitamin and probiotic boost!
6. 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. 😀
7. Digestive Aid Constipation?
Digestive issues? Gelatin might help! Nourishing Traditions and much of the information I’ve read from the Weston A. Price foundation recommend Gelatin (usually in the form of homemade bone broth) as a digestive aid, as it can sooth and help heal the digestive track.
8. 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.”
9. Skin Mask
Gelatin is most effective when used internally, but even externally, it can smooth and strengthen skin. Another Pinterest tip: 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.
10. 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 prior to 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 in to 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!
11. Hormone Help
Gelatin may help with hormones: “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.”
12. 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!
Notes: I am not a doctor and don’t play one on the internet. If you decide to use Gelatin as a supplement, check with a doctor or medical professional, especially if you have a medical condition.
To mix gelatin powder into liquid without clumps: First mix into a small amount of cool water and stir well. Let sit for 2 minutes and then add the needed amount of warm water. This tempers the gelatin and makes it smooth. This is also how I take it daily by adding it to herbal teas this way. Do not add gelatin powder to things with fresh pineapple, kiwi or papaya, as they will inactivate the thickening properties. Also, don’t boil gelatin, as it will lose its thickening ability.