Gelatin: The Superfood for Your Skin that’s been Dubbed “Better than Botox”
Nutrition Real Food Recipes
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!
I have used collagen in the past and I’ve only recently started using gelatin, I noticed both of them serve the same purpose and gelatin is much more cheaper, My skin is getting smooth and brighter.
I’ve recently become partial to Perfect Supplements brand. Their grass-fed collagen is much more reasonable and when you purchase 3, you save an additional 25%.
How long have you been incorporating it into your diet? It’s key to remember that 1) progress takes time, but also 2) this is just one small change to your diet – for example, if someone has irritable bowel symptoms prompted by undiagnosed food intolerances, simply adding gelatin isn’t like to do all that much (those food intolerances are going to need to be identified and addressed, and then gelatin can help with the gut healing).
I have spent hundreds of dollars on this brand, Vital Proteins, unfortunately I found out that this brand did not improve any condition/ issue. Honestly, I read this article with the hopes of a different brand to try.
I’ve been using collagen on and off for the last 2 years. When I’m consistent with it I notice my nails grow longer and my skin feels softer. I’ve been slacking on it the last month. This reminded me to get back to taking it consistently!
I’m making pancakes (healthy version of course) for dinner and will be adding in collagen. My kids never know that I add it.
I blend collagen into my coffee every morning – such an easy way to incorporate it!
Might want to mention starting SLOOOOOW on both counts because ingesting too much of either can cause some major stomach aches!
Interested in dietary collagen
I have been hearing more and more about gelatin lately. Thanks for giving such a great overview!
We love collagen and we LOVE Vital Proteins! There’s is one of the only collagen we’ve tried that actually dissolves completely and tastelessly into any drink (or food!), and we’ve tried a handful of different brands. Hands down, the best!
I love collagen but really need to incorporate more gelatin!
Well that’s the original source and definitely the one of the best! I really ought to make it more…
You’re very welcome! Glad you found it helpful 🙂
LOL Raia, you sound like a woman after my own heart! 🙂
I love gelatin though I don’t use it as frequently as I could. I mainly get my collagen from homemade bone broth- thanks for all the info on it!
I am definitely going to make this.
How wonderful and thanks for the super post!
I LOVE using gelatin in things. Ice cream, pudding, homemade fruit snacks… I was just about to go add some to my yogurt, too!