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If you’ve been snooping around the health-food world in the past couple of years you’ve likely heard a lot about bone broth and how healing it can be for leaky gut and other issues such as arthritis.

However, in my clinic some of my clients just can’t quite wrap their head around making and using bone broth on a regular basis so I will often recommend they supplement their diets with gelatin.

Now I’m not talking about your mama’s jello from a box, but a truly nourishing and healing food that is currently taking the nutrition world by storm. Read on for some of the great health benefits, what to look for in your gelatin powder, and a delicious recipe for healing gummies!

Gelatin

So first off let’s take a look at what gelatin actually is. This nutrient comes from the breakdown of collagen in bone marrow, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments and is great for healing the digestive tract.

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It is called a hydrophilic colloid and it loves to attract and hold liquids, including your digestive juices. This function helps attract the juices to the foods you’re eating, thereby helping improve overall digestive function. And you know what they say: You are not what you eat; you are what you absorb.

By adding nutritious gelatin to your diet, you’ll be absorbing your food like a champ and have the glowing skin and boundless energy that goes with it! As a bonus, gelatin and its component amino acids are incredibly healing for the digestive tract and so can be a great addition to the diet for someone looking to soothe and heal a leaky gut.

Collagen

Gelatin is also an incredibly rich source of collagen, which is an important nutrient for maintaining supple skin and joints. Once we enter our twenties it is not uncommon for our production of collagen to start depleting, so supplementing with a nourishing gelatin powder can be a great way to help support our skin from the inside out thus preventing premature signs of aging, wrinkles, and even stretch marks.

Glycine and Proline

These are amino acids that are not commonly found in abundance in muscle meats and which help with digestion, immunity, muscle growth and repair, and balancing the nervous system. Among their more specific functions is their role in the production of collagen, which is responsible for keeping our skin firm, supple, and wrinkle-free, as we saw above.

They are also an important component of cartilage, which is necessary for healthy joints and mobility. They are not considered essential amino acids because theoretically people have the capacity to synthesize them from other aminos. However, I would hazard a guess and say that if you’re not already in the peak of optimal health it might be hard to synthesize the quantities needed to prevent stiff and achy joints or squishy, wrinkly skin.

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Another quick kudos I’d like to give to glycine is its role in enhancing the secretion of stomach acid. In my practice one of the most common imbalances I see in my clients is low stomach acid secretion that leads to a whole host of digestive issues down the road. If you’re not producing enough SA to break down your food properly you can tend towards being very burpy, suffering from heartburn, not digesting or absorbing your nutrients as well, and you will likely suffer from a whole host of deficiency symptoms, the least of which is flagging energy.

Finally, glycine is an incredibly important nutrient for liver detoxification and antioxidant support via its impact on the production of glutathione, one of our master antioxidants. It has been shown in studies to restore levels of glutathione and protect against oxidative damage, which is a fancy way of saying it’s going to keep your inflammation levels stable and keep you looking young and fresh.

What to Look For

Now if we’re going to be using gelatin as a healing food in our diet we want to make sure we are buying the best possible quality that we can in order to limit toxin exposure and ensure the highest quality nutrients. When buying gelatin, then, it’s important to make sure that you are purchasing a grass-fed and/or organic product. A couple of brands that I enjoy are Great Lakes Gelatin, Bulletproof Collagelatin, or Vital Proteins Beef Gelatin. All are available on Amazon or may be carried at your local health food store. You want to aim to consume about 1 to 2 tbsp./day in order to receive the spectacular health benefits.

How to Use It

There are many easy and delicious ways that you can use gelatin and most companies will sell you a standard gelatin, which is great for making gummies, mousses, custards, or puddings. You can also get a hydrolyzed gelatin, which means that the protein bonds have been separated and so it will dissolve well into hot or cold liquids and won’t solidify whatever you’ve made. I like to use that style to make nourishing morning elixirs. Check out my recipes for easy homemade gummies and a delicious, satisfying elixir.

Matcha Magic Elixir

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Ingredients

  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. hydrolyzed gelatin 
  • 1 tsp. matcha powder
  • 1 tsp. Ashwagandha
  • 1 tbsp. grassfed ghee
  • 1.5 cups ginger tea
  • ½ tsp. bee pollen 
  • honey to taste

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except bee pollen in a venting blender*. Blend on high 1-2 minutes until smooth. Pour into mug and sprinkle with bee pollen. Enjoy!

*If you don’t have a venting blender add coconut milk, vanilla, gelatin, matcha, Ashwagandha, and ghee to a mug and whisk together until smooth. Pour in hot ginger tea and stir in honey and bee pollen. Enjoy!

Gut Healing Gummies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pure fruit juice (I like blueberry, cherry, or strawberry)
  • 2 tbsp. organic cane sugar or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. gelatin
  • silicone candy molds or a glass baking dish

Directions

  1. Pour the fruit juice and sugar into a small saucepan and heat gently over medium temperature until sugar is dissolved and liquid is steaming. Make sure you don’t bring it to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in gelatin one tbsp. at a time until smooth.
  3. Pour mixture into molds or into a lightly greased baking dish. I like to use coconut or avocado oil.
  4. Set in fridge for at least two hours then remove from molds or cut into squares.
  5. Store in an airtight glass container for 4-6 days.

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Caitlin Iles
Holistic Culinary Nutritionist
Caitlin Iles is a Holistic Culinary Nutritionist & Yoga teacher who focuses on healing the body through gentleness, self-compassion, the latest nutrition research, and time-tested, evolution-based dietary concepts. Her mission is to help her clients change their relationships with food, so they can create their healthiest bodies and their most fulfilling lives. She creates space for healing at her wellness retreats, cooking classes, and live talks. She has written for publications such as Mind Body Green and ALOHA Way Magazine. She shares recipes and inspiration at www.caitliniles.ca or you can follow her on social media.
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