Gelatin Benefits – The Anti-Aging Superfood
Creaky knees… aching joints… fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin…
Are these the inevitable effects of aging? Or could they be the result of decades of poor nutrition?
The truth is that many of the common signs of aging can be attributed to our population’s dependence on highly-processed, carbohydrate-rich foods and unhealthy fats. However, there is also a key ingredient missing in our modern diet – one that was ever-present in the diets of our ancestors.
And as you are about to see, the research shows that the absence of this food could be another major contributor to disease and degeneration as we age. The good news is that it is easy and delicious to get more of it in your diet. So, what is this ancient anti-aging superfood?
If you grew up in the last hundred years, the word “gelatin” may conjure images of big bowls of brightly-colored dessert at potluck dinners… the Jello molds of the 1950’s… or the giggly squares of brightly colored Jello in the 1980’s.
Of course, these forms of gelatin are anything but healthy. But when you strip away the chemical food coloring, sugar, artificial sweeteners and additives, what is left can truly be called a superfood. Unfortunately, however, it is one that has all but disappeared from the plates and bowls of our modern society.
In traditional cultures, gelatin was a ubiquitous part of the culinary tradition. Our ancestors could not afford to let any part of the animal go to waste. From slow-simmered soups, roasted meats, pickled feet and other “nasty bits” – the meat, bones, skin and connective tissues were all consumed in some way or another.
Not only does this provide a unique and vital set of nutrients, it also provides critical amino acids in the proper balance. You see, most of us get an abundance of tryptophan and cysteine in our diets. These two amino acids are predominant in muscle meats (the modern-day protein source of choice). However, most of us don’t get enough glycine and proline. These two amino acids are responsible for the unique fibrous structure of collagen (the native form of gelatin).
Without sufficient glycine and proline in your diet, your cellular “scaffolding” will begin to break down, leading to many of the physical signs of aging. But the benefits of nose-to-tail eating go much farther than “skin deep”…
Gelatin Benefits: The Superfood that Heals and Beautifies
In fact, the benefits of glycine-rich gelatin have also been found to:
- Promote wound healing
- Inhibit tumor formation
- Prevention of angiogenesis (a key factor in the proliferation of cancer)
- Reduce levels of cortisol (the stress hormone)
- Act as an anti-estrogenic agent
- Reduces systemic inflammation
- Facilitates healing of the digestive tract (from micro-tears in leaky gut to ulcers, Celiac disease and colitis)
- Promote healthy blood sugar levels
- Prevent liver damage
- Boost glutathione levels (the body’s master antioxidant and detoxifier)
- Promote deep sleep
- Promote healthy, radiant skin and prevent wrinkles
Getting More Gelatin In Your Diet
In addition to eating a wide variety of meats on the bone (with all of their bits), drinking bone broth is a powerful way to get the anti-aging gelatin benefits in your diet.
If you haven’t ever made bone broth, you’ll find it is very simple to do… and one of the most nourishing things you can consume.
Unfortunately, many people think they don’t have the time to make bone broth at home. While the traditional stovetop method is quite time-consuming, there is a better and faster way to make gelatin-rich bone broth: the pressure cooker.
Making Gelatin Rich Bone Broth in the Pressure Cooker (in 30 Minutes!)
You will need two or three pounds of grass-fed/pastured marrow bones and soup bones (any combination of beef, pork or chicken backs will do). Then add about eight cups of water (filling the cooker to a maximum of two-thirds capacity). Add to this a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar and a couple roughly-chopped carrots and onions.
Pressure cook on high heat for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally and then strain the broth into a glass container and refrigerate. Once cooled, you’ll find that the broth has gelled – this is the telltale sign of the presence of gelatin. For easy use and storing, I like to pour cooled, strained bone broth into silicone ice cube molds. The individual servings pop out easily and can also be frozen for longer storage.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, I would encourage you to consider buying one. I have found it to be an indispensable and time-saving kitchen tool. Learn more about the benefits of the pressure cooker and check out the one I like and use.
For the most gelatin-rich broth, add some free-range chicken feet. A recent study published in the Journal of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering found that gelatin from chicken feet was nutritionally superior and yielded more collagen than other bones tested. (NOTE: If you haven’t ever cooked chicken feet, be sure to do a quick search online to learn how to prepare properly before cooking).
Adding more gelatin to your diet can help reduce stress levels, enhance sleep, balance blood sugar, boost glutathione and detoxification, promote cellular health and reduce inflammation – not to mention keep your skin and joints looking and feeling youthful.
If you haven’t started making gelatin-rich bone broth a daily staple, now is the time. Aging is just a developmental process, and the corrective steps you take today can shape the health you experience tomorrow.
We want to hear from you! Do you drink bone broth? If so, what is your favorite way to prepare it and how do you most often enjoy it?
Theodora Nijnens-Geraets says
Dear Kelley, many thanks for this great information about broth making.
The only thing is that I really can’t coock chicken feet, it is really to auwful. I can’t see it and I don’t want to touch it.Is there no way to buy ready chicken broth organic or so? or gelatin organically made?
Hey Theodora, you don’t have to use chicken feet!!! At all! I have chickens and I could never do it….I see what they WALK in!!! lol Seriously, I just use organic chicken drumsticks for mine. It is rich and thick with gelatin. We eat only dark meat so using a whole chicken is not for me. I do two or three packs of organic drumsticks at a time, searing quickly in a little butter and coconut oil. Gives the broth an even more delicious flavor. After the meat is done (10 minutes in the Instant Pot) i remove the meat in large pieces, and place on a silpat lined baking sheet and freeze quickly. I put it all in a large container and i have perfectly done chicken pieces to do soooooo many things with!! Dressing, soups, stews, gumbo, stir-frys, casseroles, etc. etc. etc.! The bones and knuckles go back into the pot to make the bone broth. The skin and fatty googly pieces go to the dog’s bowl, and later, the cooked bones go there as well….with some reserved and blended in the Vita Mix with a little bone broth for the rescued kittens over their fresh food. (I cook my bones for 2 1/2 hours, and the bones are whole and intact, but will mush between your finger and thumb it pressed.) I have a friend who purees the bones with some broth and she eats it herself! Not. A. Drop. Is. Wasted. I do this every couple of weeks and thus i am never without either bone broth OR cooked chicken for fast and easy – but nutritious meals! And NO chicken feet!!!!
Kelley Herring says
Thanks so much for your comment and question.
You don’t have to use chicken feet – you will still get a copious amount of gelatin when you cook a whole chicken, or just bones and backs in the pressure cooker.
If you don’t want to make it yourself, I would highly recommend buying from US Wellness Meats. They use only grass-fed beef or free range/non-GMO chicken bones to make delicious, nutrient-rich gelatin or bone broth. http://tinyurl.com/mhgclak
Susan goodrich says
How do you consume this bone broth? Mix it in your food or drink it like a shot?
Kelley Herring says
Both! Either way you will reap the benefits.
Hey Susan, Around here at our house I use it in a variety of ways. I use it as all or part of the water called for in making rice (makes the rice oh so yummy AND more nutritious), in soups and stews, stocks, sauces, gumbo, and gravies (and i even add extra gelatin to make it even more nutritious), in casseroles and other dishes that call for stock, (and even those that just call for water). I sometimes use it as part of the water called for in making pasta, and I use less water so there isn’t a lot left over to waste, to make a quick nutritious and yummy pot of chicken soup by adding organic cooked chicken to it (that I’ve pre-cooked in the Instant Pot and had in the freezer for quick meals), some Himalayan salt, a pinch or two of ground celery seed powder, and a quick grind of fresh cracked black pepper. We love a bowl of hot chicken soup when it is cold. Wait…we love one when it’s hot outside too! And you can add a little pasta or some cooked rice. And of course you can just drink a steaming cup by itself! And, I use it warm, in the fresh raw food I grind for all my rescued kitties. I watch them heal and thrive with it as well. So many ways! Enjoy!
Kelley Herring says
I love these suggestions, Barbara! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for the information on gelatin! I am wondering what the non-pressure cooker method would be for making bone broth? I don’t have room for another appliance. Can it be made using a slow cooker?
Kelley Herring says
Thanks for your comment and for stopping by.
The slow cooker is a tried and true method that works very well for making bone broth, albeit at a much slower rate. And while I believe that the slow method produces high nutrient broth, I have noticed a big difference in the amount of gelatin that is yielded from the pressure cooker versus the slow cooker.
Also on slow cooking, please check out my post on lead in slow cookers and how to ensure that “secret” ingredient isn’t being added to your foods: https://healinggourmet.com/healthy-cooking/lead-slow-cooker/
One final note on appliances and kitchen space : the new pressure cookers have a slow cooker setting, so you can use that machine for both purposes.
Hey Kelly! I love, love, love healing bone broth! It is amazing stuff. I make mine using the pressure cooker also, but, I cook the bones in the broth until the bones are soft. (Then the bones and some of the broth are given to my cats and dogs. The dogs love them whole -they think it’s forbidden food! The bones are still intact but are mush and therefore safe to eat. For the cats, I puree theirs in the blender and it smells so delicious! Nothing is wasted!)
I digress. My bone broth is fantastic, super flavorful, and full of gelatin. I was wondering tho, am i hurting it by cooking longer than the 30 minutes you refer to? Normally, when i did it in a crock pot, this took 72 hours. It takes around 2 hours in the pressure cooker to equal the 72 hours. The broth has an even richer flavor. Your thoughts are appreciated….
Kelley Herring says
Glad to hear you’re on the bone broth bandwagon too.
I like your ideas about repurposing for your pets and letting nothing go to waste. Such a great alternative to those grain (and sometimes melamine!) based pet foods.
My feeling is that longer cooking in the pressure cooker is not harmful, and can be beneficial. As a test, I took bones that were already “used” and put them back in the pressure cooker. I got another full cup of gelatin out of that, but the flavor was a good bit more bland. Regarding the science behind cooking byproducts, please check out my article on the health benefits of pressure cooking – https://healinggourmet.com/healthy-cooking/health-benefits-pressure-cooker/
Any plant-based (vegetarian) gelatin sources you can recommend for non-meat eaters, that will provide similar health benefits?
Kelley Herring says
That’s a great question and I’m actually working on a follow up post right now on the topic…
From a culinary standpoint, yes, gelatin can be replaced. The vegan substitute in cooking is agar agar. Like gelatin, it exhibits solid/liquid hysteresis – the ability to melt at higher temperatures and solidify and gel at lower ones.
But that’s where the similarities end. In fact, agar agar is roughly 80% fiber (polysaccharides) whereas gelatin is a unique mix of amino acids (which are the reason for its many health benefits).
Please stay posted for the follow up article.
I’ve read a small handful of articles similar to your about the benefits of gelatin and I’m wondering about the use of Great Lakes Collagen powder? I tried using their beef gelatin powder to make little “jello” like snacks, but I can’t stand the texture (not even as a kid). So I tried their collagen powder – adding it to my homemade iced mochas – am I still getting the benefits as the gelatin?
Kelley Herring says
Thanks for stopping by and for another great question!
I use Great Lake collagen and gelatin – I think they are the highest quality powdered gelatin/collagen products on the market.
With that being said, I am a firm believer that the nutritional value of fresh-made bone broth from grass-fed/pastured animals has more benefits than gelatin/collagen supplements can offer.
When we consume bone broth we are getting a wide array of nutrients, fats, fat-soluble vitamins and other constituents (like powerful alkylglycerols) thanks to the bone marrow. For more on the health benefits of bone marrow, please check out my post here- https://healinggourmet.com/superfoods/bone-marrow-trendy-superfood-powers-brain/
I am a hunter and often have the bones from my harvested animals. Is there any difference or benefits to gelatin from wild animals? Aside from that, where should I look to purchase bones of suitable quality? Great article by the way.
Hey Lance, your post was interesting as we are hunters too. I have not made bone broth with anything but organic chicken bones yet, tho I have been making bone broth for ten years now, and only four with the Instant Pot. My husbands mom used to make a large pot of soup every couple of weeks and it was never without a chunk of bone from the venison in the freezer. It always had a rich hearty flavor. She didn’t throw away a single bone. These days, our lab has her own freezer full of fresh (frozen) meaty bones, so that is what we do with them, and do not throw any away. I use my bone broth in my soups. I will have to save a few bones from the next one that is taken and try it out as we are in the beginning of the season here.
I did some reading and most of the posts try to scare you to death with the ‘wasting disease’. If you are a hunter you will know not to ever eat an animal that is obviously sick. We take venison from not only our own acreage but other places and what really bothers me is what they are fed. We feed specie specific foods for ours, to keep them nourished in the hard times of winter. Others, however, on adjoining lands and leases, are fed all the ‘fad’ baits….with corn syrup, kool-aid, artificial flavors and sweeteners, preservatives, and heaven only knows what else. None of this is good for people, much less anything like what wild animals would eat. Since we eat the meat predominantly, we are more concerned with food than with horns, tho a nice set that comes in the deal is a plus. I worry about what everyone else is feeding the deer around us. I know that long term this can be detrimental to the health of the animal population, and indirectly, us.. I suspect that all the garbage that is being fed as bait may now be coming home to haunt us in the form of wasting disease. Tho we do not yet have this disease in our state, Hub did see a fawn sneezing the other day, and later a doe that didn’t look well. ….I told him it might be time to incorporate probiotics into the feed we provide for them!
I can’t vouch for the amount of actual gelatin you would get with bones from something else than organic chickens, but the flavor and nutrients alone would be a plus!
If you don’t want to use bones from your hunting, I have always seen organic bones in the health food store. Maybe you have a farmer locally, that you know and trust to feed his cows right, and could get bones from his processor. You need to know you are getting clean bones. Another option is to save any bones from roasts, steak, etc. and when you have enough, toss them in the pot. If you have an Instant Pot, a couple of hours is about right, unless it is chicken bones, and then I like to do them for 2.5 hours. That way even tho they are fully intact, they mush when you press between your thumb and finger and you know then that they are safe to feed your dog or cat. In the slow cooker, for maximum flavor and nutrients, I do for 24-48 hours but takes 72 to soften them for the dog. Either way, the Instant Pot is both a slow cooker and a pressure cooker so it’s easy to make your choice. Hope this helps!
Hi! I made your fall off the bone whole chicken in my instant pot, and it was wonderful 🙂 I’m getting ready to freeze the gelatin cubes now and am wondering how I will use them–do I just add water and heat the gelatin for a rich broth? I’ve never frozen gelatin before, so any suggestions are helpful. Thank you!
Kelley Herring says
Happy you enjoyed the chicken! You can use the broth cubes in so many ways – when a recipe calls for broth, simply add the required amount. Of course, you can thin with water for a less strong flavor. It just depends on how you want to use it!
Once you have frozen your broth in cubes, pop them out and store in a zip top bag with the air squeezed out. Put a date on it so you can use the FIFO method (first in, first out).
Hope this helps!
Thank you! That makes perfect sense. Can’t wait to try it.
Maime…..once you’ve had rich bone broth you won’t want to do without it. (I’ve had my instant pot for four years now and tho I use it multiple times daily, I love it best for the bone broth. I don’t freeze it in bits tho. I freeze it in pints. (only use wide mouth pints or half pint ball jars to freeze tho if you use glass jars as anything without a straight neck will break in the freezer) I use the broth in place of some or all of the water when making rice. I also cook pasta in it….YUM for both! I use it as the base for all my soups, chicken and dumplings and gumbo (I’m Irish/Cajun), and even with veggies in stir-fry, but our most favorite way to use bone broth is just to add in a bit of the chicken, some minced fresh garlic, a wee bit o ground celery seed, and oh my goodness….absolutely delicious! Sometimes we add in a spoonful of cooked rice too. You can just feel the healing…… I do believe that the long 2 – 2 1/2 hour pressure cooking the bones makes the richest broth. I just gave it to my 91 year old mom last week as she was diagnosed with pneumonia and they said she might not make it. She fought it though, and when she was able to take food again it was my organic chicken bone broth. She LOVES the stuff! Several days of rich bone broth was absolutely amazing! I even added more clean gelatin to it. And don’t forget to save the bones for your pets! I have a friend that puts the bones in her vitamix and add some of the broth and purees this….and she eats it! She loves it! I’ve don’t that and it actually smells and tastes very good.
Thank you for taking the time to write all these great ideas! I am very excited about having bone broth on hand at all times now that I have an instant pot. So easy! I used it to make quinoa last night thanks to your suggestion to use it when cooking rice, pasta, etc., and relished as I watched my two little ones gobble it up unknowingly 🙂 yay!
I also loved the fall off the bone chicken!! How long can you store the gelatin in the refrigerator?
Thank you so much for this information! I am wondering, after you make and strain your broth do you refrigerate so that the gel forms and the fat goes to the top? Then you remove the fat layer and reheat the gelatin so it’s pourable to pour into cubes? Can we throw it in the freezer from that warm, pourable state? Or can we just pour into cubes without getting rid of that fat layer first? THanks for your help.
Ericka, you can refrigerate the bone broth and allow the fat to rise to the top. You CAN, but you don’t need to. I just cool the broth and put it in containers, then I slip it all into the freezer. I do not remove any of the fat. As the broth freezes in the container and the cooling is complete, the fat will rise to the top anyway. It can be removed as it thaws if so desired.
Organic chicken fat is good for you, but I don’t keep the skin. If you are cooking a chicken, or say chicken drumsticks, I pull them out when they are done (10 min in the Instant Pot) allow the meat to cool, then I remove the meat from the bones and toss the skin, and all those little ‘gibberties’ (that’s our made-up word for all those little fatty googly whatevers…) into a container to be added to the dog’s bowl of fresh food. The bones and the gristle knuckles I throw back in the pot for the bone broth.
Also, before I even make the broth, I sear the chicken in a bit of grass-fed butter and a bit of coconut oil (the one without the coconut flavor for this) and then I add the hot water and whatever aromatics I’m using. The searing gives the broth extra flavor, and since I use the broth for everything, I don’t mind the fat. I use organic chicken. I don’t have a source for organic beef right now. If you are using conventional chicken and not clean or organic tho, you might want to decrease the chicken fat as the toxins are stored in the fat of an animal.