When you think of gelatin, you probably think of Jell-O (us, too!), but the ingredient responsible for your favorite childhood dessert’s wobbly consistency has many more uses. Gelatin is a nutrient jam-packed with perks, according to Dr. Will Cole, renowned functional medicine practitioner and health and wellness expert,
Gelatin is derived from the dried bones and skin of animals—but don’t let that scare you off (well, unless you’re a vegetarian). Cole suggests adding it to your diet on the regular, since it’s essentially a hydrolyzed (i.e. broken down by water) form of collagen, which is the stuff that literally holds your body together. Here are some of its benefits:
1. Gut Health
According to the journal Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology, gelatin may support a healthy gut and regularity. “Gelatin is rich with amino acids, the building blocks to a healthy gut lining, which is essential,” Cole says. “Not only does it help rebuild a healthy gut, but it’s very well tolerated and [has] anti-inflammatory [properties].”
2. Hair, Skin, & Nail Support
The amino acids found in gelatin are also essential to strong hair, skin, and nails, according to Cole. According to the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, ingesting gelatin is a potent source of protein (especially popular for Paleo folks or people on high-protein plans) and has a direct effect on bone mineral density.
3. Joint & Bone Support
According to an animal study done by Experimental Therapeutic Medicine, collagen peptides (produced by the hydrolysis of gelatin) may promote healthy joints and bones. The study, along with a study by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that gelatin can potentially prevent injury of connective tissues and joints.
4. Protein Boost
Daily supplementation with gelatin offers benefits for fitness lovers, too, since it’s a source of protein. Pure bovine gelatin, like this supplement by Bernard Jensen’s, boasts nine grams of protein in each serving. And if you have a sensitive gut or run into gastric trouble with other protein powders, gelatin may be be great supplement since it is so easy to digest, says Cole.
Supplementing With Gelatin
You can get more gelatin in your diet by eating more gelatin-rich foods: Bone broths, organic chicken, and wild-caught fish are incredibly nutritious sources of gelatin.
Or, you can supplement by taking a capsule or using powdered gelatin. Just how much should you use of the powdered stuff? “Because it is so well-tolerated, most people will do great with one to three scoops a day of quality collagen-based products,” said Cole.