A superfood for your skin that’s been dubbed “Better than Botox”?
It’s a bold assertion, I know!
But in other words: gelatin helps keep skin smooth and youthful without any injections and potentially harmful side effects. PLUS it’s a great single-ingredient source of extra protein and works wonders for the gut (and we know that gut health is everything when it comes to both health and beauty). What more could a girl ask for!?
So what is gelatin? (Hint: it’s a heck of a lot different than Jello.)
Gelatin is a water-soluble protein prepared from the collagen found in animal bones and ligaments. It’s basically the cooked version of collagen. And collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and an integral component of all connective tissues.
Nutritionally, gelatin is a great source of protein, minerals, and amino acids, especially the amino acids glycine (35% of the amino acids in gelatin), alanine (11%), and proline and hydroxyproline (21%). Its nutritional profile makes it extremely beneficial for both health and beauty.
To understand the effects of gelatin on skin health, we need to understand a few things about skin aging.
As we age, the body makes less collagen, and individual collagen fibers become increasingly cross-linked with each other. Since collagen is a fibrous protein that provides a supportive structure for the body’s tissues, the loss of collagen causes the skin to lose elasticity and allows wrinkles to form.
And this is why there are so many anti-aging face creams that contain collagen. But while collagen is key to a youthful complexion, it doesn’t do squat in skincare products — the molecules are too large to be absorbed by the skin! Yup, it’s a big gimmick (so please don’t waste your hard-earned money on these products!).
But dietary collagen is a different story…
By supplementing with dietary collagen, you’re actually giving your body extra collagen to help maintain and restore skin elasticity.
This minimizes the classic signs of skin aging. Hence the “better than Botox” tagline!
Collagen also helps to heal the gut lining, aid digestion and the breakdown of nutrients, and assist the liver in detoxification, further benefiting the skin since GI and liver health greatly impact skin health. P.S. I talk about all of these things and more in my new book Glow: The Nutritional Approach to Naturally Gorgeous Skin, which of course I totally recommend if you’re interested in how to tailor nutrition for skin health and to overcome common skin issues!
A great way to get gelatin in your diet is to make and drink bone broth frequently. But this is easier said than done! I myself am a bone broth fan but have a hard time keeping my supply stocked with all of life’s other demands (actually, I haven’t made it in over a year!).
Luckily, high-quality powdered gelatin supplements from grass-fed cows can give you all of the benefits.
There are 2 types of supplemental gelatin:
1) Collagen peptides are most beneficial for skin and joint health, or to improve sleep. With collagen peptides, the gelatin protein is broken into individual amino acids, which makes them easier to absorb. Collagen peptides can be mixed into any type of liquid at any temperature. For this reason, it makes a great superfood smoothie add-in. But collagen peptides will not thicken liquid in the way whole gelatin will, so they cannot be used in recipes that call for gelatin.
My favorite source for quality gelatin and collagen Vital Proteins also sells some really great collagen products besides just plain ol’ collagen — I’m a big fan of the Collagen Beauty Greens for smoothies (the vanilla flavor is delicious!) and the Collagen Beauty Water packets to bring on-the-go.
2) Whole gelatin is better for improving gut health. It coats the lining of the digestive tract, acting as a soothing and protective layer and aiding digestion. This is the type of gelatin that is used to make homemade and healthy fruit snacks or homemade and healthy jello, and must be mixed into warm liquids to thicken.
Have you used gelatin?
Have you noticed a difference in your skin or gut health? (Or nails or hair!?) I’d love to hear about your experience!