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Health & Wellness

A Look at the Digestive Benefits of Gelatin

Gelatin isn't something that most people think of as being “healthy,” but it has a number of handy benefits, including helping improve the function of your digestive system. The gut is a very complex system, and there are many different factors that can dictate the health of your digestive system, including what you eat, how much exercise you get, how hydrated you are, and whether you are taking medications. 1 Some simple changes to your diet, such as incorporating gelatin, could help improve your overall health and well-being.

 width= How Gelatin Can Improve Digestive Health


There are many ways that this often-underestimated cooking ingredient can be helpful to your health. Gelatin is an ingredient which consists mostly of protein. It is made by extracting the collagen from animal bones, skin, and cartilage. It is flavorless, colorless, and has a soft, jelly-like texture.

The element that makes gelatin so popular as a cooking ingredient is that it dissolves readily in hot water, which means that it can be added to soups and sauces or used in dessert-making.

Gelatin contains a number of amino acids, including lysine, alanine, arginine, proline, and valine. Out of those, valine is the most important since it is essential to human health but cannot be made in the body. Therefore, it must come from dietary sources. 2

Helps Heal the Stomach Lining


Gelatin also contains glycine which can be helpful for healing the mucosal lining of the stomach. 3 This means that it can help prevent a number of gastric issues. In addition, it can help stimulate the production of important gastric juices which will help food be digested better. If you are not producing the right balance of digestive juices, then you are at a greater risk of developing acid reflux. 4

Improves Digestion  width=


Gelatin binds well with water which makes it a good bulking agent. This means that it can help food move through your digestive system more efficiently, helping prevent constipation. In fact, it is sometimes used as a remedy for chronic constipation because it is less likely to cause unpleasant side-effects than a traditional stimulant-based laxative. 5

In addition, gelatin is rich in glycine, which is an amino acid that is thought to help with the regulation of blood sugar. People who have type 2 Diabetes need to be particularly careful about their blood sugar levels. Eating foods that are rich in gelatin could help to regulate blood sugar. 6

The extra bulk of gelatin can help improve feelings of satiety too, which means that people are less likely to want to overeat. This is a balance, however. While savory foods that are rich in gelatin may be good for controlling your hunger, gelatin is also added to candies and other chewy sweets which contain a lot of sugar. Eating these foods could have the opposite effect.

Reduces Pain and Inflammation


Collagen is essential for healthy tissues and joints. Gelatin is rich in collagen, and this means that it could help reduce inflammation and joint pain. 7 It also contains lysine, which is another amino acid that the body cannot make. This amino acid helps the body better absorb other essential nutrients, such as calcium.

Not everyone who is suffering from pain and inflammation has a nutrient deficiency, but making sure that your body is in the best position to get all of the nutrients that it needs is certainly a good starting point. Good nutrition can make up for a lot of other issues.

 width= Is It Worth Supplementing with Gelatin?


Gelatin is thought to be safe for most people, although some people do experience bloating or allergic reactions if they ingest large amounts. 8 If this happens to you, then you should stop using it immediately. There are no known issues where gelatin interacts with drugs or prescription medications.

You can take gelatin in supplement form, consume foods which are known to be rich in it, or make your own gelatin-rich foods by boiling animal bones to make a broth. Since gelatin comes from animal bones, it is not something that most vegetarians would want to consume, and even some meat eaters may want to research where the gelatin products they consume come from because animals that have been raised in open spaces with a good diet are more likely to produce nutrient-rich gelatin. Some people may opt to use collagen instead of gelatin. Fish collagen has a similar nutrient profile. 9

Gelatin could be a useful supplement for those who are struggling with chronic constipation or for those who have been suffering from acid reflux and want to try gentler, diet and lifestyle-based changes before they take medication for the issue. It is not a wonder-drug, however, and it should not be treated as such.

If you are vegan or vegetarian and do not want to take gelatin for that reason, then don't worry. You’re not missing out on anything vital. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of protein and healthy fats and eating a lot of plants, rather than "vegetarian junk food" and you should find that your diet is varied enough to support a healthy body.

Conclusion


If you are struggling with digestive issues, the best strategy is to make several small lifestyle changes rather than to rely on one miracle remedy. Try drinking more water, eating more fiber, getting plenty of exercise, and practicing meditation or other forms of relaxation like the use of essential oils. Take care of yourself, and your body will take care of the rest.

PhotoCredits: IldiPapp/shutterstock.com, SydaProductions/shutterstock.com, DmitryBodyaev/shutterstock.com, BrentHofacker/shutterstock.com

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