I’m a great big fan of superfoods—real accessible superfoods that have proven benefits, and that don’t (always) come from exotic lands and cost loads of money. I like to look to history and experience and stories in addition to research studies to find out what real superfoods are. Since I found information about gelatin several years ago, I have been experimenting and learning about how I can implement it into my life (and why the heck I’d want to).
This substance is important enough that I can’t think of a single person who won’t benefit from reading more about it.
Last year, I wrote a post about chicken stock and talked about gelatin and the benefits of making your own bone broths. (Please go read that first—it will open in a new window!). And honestly, I try to make bone broth regularly, but sometimes I just don’t make it happen. Plus, now that I live in Santa Monica, it’s not really the wintery hibernation weather I’m used to in the winter that spurs motivation for making things like bone broths. My most recent solution to this is… jello. No, not the kind from the box—that has crazy amounts of sugar and artificial ingredients in it. I bought Great Lakes kosher beef gelatin, and I have been making all kinds of jigglers in my kitchen. After a while of this, I decided that maybe if I increased the amount of gelatin in my recipes that I’d end up with something more like a fruit snack. Not only did it work, but I quickly became addicted (I existed for an entire semester in college on fruit snacks, juice boxes, and animal crackers…so it’s only natural I would love the healthier version nowadays).
After that, though, I decided I should come up with some other low sugar/highly nutritious versions (so I could eat them all day and not get a buzz!).
I made Cucumber Lime gummies, and they turned out great!
Cucumber Lime Fruit Snacks
2 cups cucumber juice
juice of 2 limes
½ tsp lemon or plain stevia
other sweetener to taste (I left this out, so mine are not super sweet)
8 Tbsp gelatin
In a saucepan, warm the cucumber juice on low (not hot!). Add the sweetener. Then, with a whisk, stir in the gelatin one Tbsp at a time. When it is well mixed (no clumps!), pour the mixture into molds or a pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (optional—they’ll gel on their own, but the fridge speeds up the process and I think I am kind of liking them cold!).
Note: These may not be the flavor for you if you don’t love cucumbers or if you like things pretty sweet. You could add more lime and more sweetener if you want it to be less veggie tasting.
What is gelatin?
It is a water soluble protein (amino acids) that comes from collagen.
What does gelatin do for you?
One of the most notable gelatin benefits is related to digestion. Because gelatin is hydrophilic (attracts water), it can counteract the hydrophobic (repels water) effects of eating cooked food. The result of this attractive property is that it (1) lines/protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and (2) aids in digestion/breakdown of nutrients.
I found an aspect of this very interesting as I researched it. Even back as far as the beginning of the 20th century, doctors were recommending gelatin intake to help heal the gut. Not only that, but they were finding that gelatin intake assisted with autoimmune disorders (like rheumatoid arthritis), joint disorders, allergies, and inflammatory bowel disorders.
Based on much of my prior research regarding health issues, it is extremely interesting to me to find links between digestion and other processes/areas of the body. The digestive tract, often called the “second brain” plays a major role in how a person feels, and also what health conditions she/he has. For example, if the lining of the digestive tract is damaged, proteins and other substances can leak out into the bloodstream. This can cause an immune response, and over time this leads to things like thyroid or autoimmune issues. Therefore, doesn’t it make sense that if gelatin can heal the gut, it can heal a whole host of other secondary issues? Even issues that we can’t or haven’t traced back to the gut may be improved—after all, it’s pretty difficult to pinpoint a problem based on symptoms, especially in the current symptom/band aid based healthcare system.
My thoughts and conclusions: Adding gelatin to the diet will have many of the same positive effects that following a raw food diet has, based on the hydrophilic nature of both. This makes me happy because (1) it further substantiates that healing the gut (whether through raw food, broth/gelatin, or both) is an essential task for regaining/maintaining/achieving great health, and (2) although I like to eat raw foods, there was a time when I felt a little confused and/or guilty about really wanting only cooked foods (especially in winter). Now I feel like I can understand the validity and points of diverse food philosophies that come from sources like Nourishing Traditions and Deep Nutrition, as well as still being a great fan of the raw food diet and all the great raw food restaurants located where I live in Santa Monica.
Also note that gelatin has a positive effect on all connective tissue and skin. It has been shown to help with joint issues (both injuries and chronic issues). I’m not going to write much about that aspect now, but after I test this on myself for a while I will report back.
There’s speculation that gelatin (because of the amino acid content) can help spur a greater human growth hormone release. You’d have to take it on an empty stomach at bedtime (3 hours after eating) and upon waking to get this effect. Remember, this is speculation, but it doesn’t seem like it would hurt to try! Unfortunately, this one is tougher for me to test out in terms of weight loss since I probably could only lose a couple pounds. But I will test it in terms of body composition (good thing I hung onto my body composition scale from wellness coaching!) and energy level. I’ll keep you posted on my consistency with it (nighttime empty stomach sounds difficult) and results.
News/Notes: I had a great weekend. It was so productive, but also relaxing, and K and I went to breakfast on Sunday and then shopped on the Promenade. Mimosas, sunshine, cousin, and shopping…seriously, what’s better?! I’ve been really consistent with yoga, and I’m noticing my arms and core being very strong lately.
I have just three more things I want to do in my apartment, and then I’ll give you a tour. Actually, I might just do one more—the other two will probably take a while to complete. Professionally, I have some really great things going on too. I’ll share soon.
I’m going to yoga in a few minutes. Who needs happy hour?
Oh, also, I ate this today: full fat Fage greek yogurt plus vanilla stevia and chopped up homemade pb cup.