May 29, 2013

Gelatin: Its Many Benefits (with personal experience) and Ways to Consume

I went a little off track this past week. Most weeks I eat probably 100% real food. If you don't, no judgment. This just works for me. I also typically eat about 90-95% paleo. I don't really pay attention to an exact percentage, I just know I eat some non-paleo foods when I want them and it ends up being rare. So, as for going off track...unexpected stress combined with unpreparedness will do that. It happens. I drank one too many Starbucks lattes. I ate a Chick-fil-A chicken nugget and a fry. Yes, one. One of each. I stole them from a child. Don't worry, it wasn't a random child. And I don't even really like Chick-fil-A that much. I probably shouldn't say that out loud.

Plus, I ate chips with interesting ingredients, especially considering they were only "salt and pepper" chips. And last, I consumed MSG (monosodium glutamate) in several items (including the nugget which I didn't realize).

In case you didn't know, Chick-fil-A's nuggets are full of gluten, MSG, and all sorts of stuff that should not be in chicken nuggets. Check out The Domestic Man's recipe instead.

Grassfed Gelatin: Its Many Benefits (with personal experience) and Ways to Consume

I made the choices to consume these foods I do not typically consume. I don't feel guilty. I don't believe in feeling guilty over food consumption, no matter what you eat. When it happens, I learn from it and move on. For me to feel my best, going that far off track is not a good idea. My skin broke out, my digestion suffered, and I felt very blah. Just blah. And then, there was my knee. I had a bad knee (maybe arthritis since it runs in the family) for as long as I can remember -- until I went paleo. With paleo there was no pain. This week it came back with a vengeance.

I got right back on track after those few days, but the effects of what I had eaten were evident. I have been (maybe) hoping that I could consume dairy and gluten again without issue. I'm stubborn. And well, I want to be normal and not have to be so strict about what I eat. But I can't. To feel my best, I can't.

I went home -- after being unexpectedly away for several days -- and ate some of my gummy snacks (made with gelatin). Yes, I eat fruity gummy snacks. I'm an adult, with no kids, eating fruit snacks. I have no shame. Shortly after eating these delicious gummy snacks, my knee was fine. No lie. No more pain. So that is why I wanted to expand upon this post where I wrote about gelatin -- just in case you aren't convinced of the benefits of consuming gelatin (whether in broth or gummy snack form).

Benefits of Gelatin (including my experiences)

1. Strong hair and nails: Contains keratin to help improve strength and growth of nails and hair.

My hair has gotten crazy thick. Crazy, I tell you. My hair was always fairly thin. Lately though, it takes me twice as long to dry and style my hair. Maybe it's just my imagination, but I'm thinking my hair is thicker since consuming gelatin. My nail strength and growth has also improved. My nails broke easily and now I couldn't bite them off if I tried. I just tried. Can't do it. Seriously though, there has been definite improvement in my hair and nails since consuming gelatin for the past 8 months (more frequently for the past 3-4 months and when I have seen most changes.)

2. Supports collagen formation: High in the amino acid glycine, a component of collagen which improves the elasticity of skin, making it smoother with fewer wrinkles and stretch marks. 

I'm sure you've heard of people injecting their faces with collagen in order to smooth out wrinkles. Or maybe you've even done it. Or maybe you bought the expensive collagen creams. I bought a collagen face powder (though never used it) in Japan where collagen is promoted, sold, and consumed regularly. But, guess what? Collagen is too large to be absorbed by the skin so those expensive collagen creams aren't going work. While I'm still somewhat young, I've had a few wrinkles creeping up here and there. Most prominently, I've always had the "worry lines" as I call them. You know those two lines in between your eyes. I have them. Since I've been consuming gelatin, they have significantly decreased. You have to just take my word for it -- for now (I'll look for some pics).

3. Gut health: Aids digestion and is healing to the gastrointestinal track making gelatin helpful for healing digestive disorders (such as "leaky gut").

I've been doing a number of things to heal some gut issues for the past several months or so, including consuming bone broth and taking powdered gelatin, but also taking l-glutamine. So I can't say for certain what has been helping. However, if you read any site about gut healing or leaky gut, gelatin, specifically in the form of bone broth, is a main component. (Read more about this in the GAPS diet book.)

4. Joint and bone health: Reduces systemic inflammation, improving joint and bone health. Beneficial for treating osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and brittle bones (osteoporosis).

See my story at the beginning of the post. It was amazing. Truly. The knee pain was there for days. I consumed gelatin right away. The pain disappeared. Now, several days later, my knee feels great again. (I did of course get back on track with my eating after consuming the gelatin.) I convinced my mother to consume gelatin for her osteoarthritis which affects her hands, spine, and all over it seems, so I'll let you know if she sees improvement. Update 2/2014: My mom has seen major improvement in her arthritis; however, she also stopped eating gluten which she found affected her pain immensely.
And even more benefits...

  • Reduces allergy risk
  • Assists with wound healing
  • Assists in detoxification 
  • Improves digestion by enhancing gastric acid secretion
  • Supports thyroid and adrenal glands
  • Promotes good sleep 
  • Helps build muscle
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Source of protein (not a complete source of protein)

Update February 2014: I've been consuming gelatin about a year (give or take) and all of my results above still stand. I'm not always consistent and I consume more gelatin some weeks over others. I also consume homemade bone broth when I can (when I can get some good bones). One of the main improvements has been in my skin, particularly the elasticity. My worry lines are much fainter than a year ago and (although I was blessed with great genes in this department) my skin still looks quite young. Note: I have also changed my skin care routine so I can't attribute all of the improvement to the gelatin. One thing I've recently noticed, my stretch marks (from sudden weight gain about 6-7 years ago) have faded. They are noticeably less pronounced. And this is without slathering them with cocoa butter like I always mean to do. 

Ways to Consume Gelatin

Which type do I use and where do I find this stuff?

I recommend (as do most sites) using gelatin from grass-fed cows. Gelatin from healthy animals provides the amino acids, glycine and proline and is free from antibiotics and artificial hormones. These are also minimally processed to reduce or eliminate the occurrence of free glutamic acids. I know it seems pricey but a container can last awhile (as long as you aren't over-consuming it) and the benefits are worth it. (The green bottle easily dissolves in cold liquids. Not to be used for jello and marshmallow making. Get one of the other two for that.)

1. Great Lakes Red/Orange Can (the one that gels!):
(Read Great Lakes FAQ about gelatin: HERE.)
  • From grass-fed cows. Red/orange can. Used to make jello, gummies, and stuff. Bloom the gelatin in room temp or cool water first, then add to warm/hot liquid to completely dissolve. Beef or Porcine (pig) are both available with the only different being the animal parts used to produce it.  
  • Get porcine (orange) gelatin HERE (Amazon) or HERE (Vitacost) or HERE (Thrive Market)
  • Get beef (red can) gelatin (the one I prefer) HERE (Amazon) or on Iherb HERE (use code JAC411 to save $10 on first order) or HERE (Thrive Market).

2. Great Lakes: Collagen Hydrolysate (Green Can) (supplement, no gel!): 
  • From grass-fed cows. Green can. Dissolves in cold liquids. Will not gel! Dissolves in hot or cold liquids. Not used for jello. Add to smoothies, coffee, tea, etc. as a supplement. Better for people with digestive issues. 
  • Get it HERE (Amazon) or HERE (Thrive Market).

3. Bernard Jensen: Can be used in jello and other recipes (similar to Great Lakes orange/red can). Recommended brand by Weston A. Price Foundation. Get it HERE (Amazon).

4. Vital Proteins: (Update: I recently started using this brand for supplement use.) The blue container, Collagen Peptides, is the one that doesn't gel. I use this for supplementing. I add to coffee or tea. The green container, Collagen Protein, is the one that will gel and can be used for gummies and such. I get this brand from Thrive Market HERE

Find more products I like in My Paleo Pantry HERE.

If you're still not sure exactly what gelatin here. Or more thorough explanations here and here.

And if you're concerned about MSG in gelatin, read here.

Are you tired of reading yet? Don't you want to go make some gummy snacks now? :)

Grassfed Gelatin: Its Many Benefits (with personal experience) and Ways to Consume

Shared at: Make Your Own MondaysNatural Living Monday


*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or other healthcare professional. This is informational purposes only. The content is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact your doctor, dietitian, or other healthcare professional regarding any medical condition or treatment and before making any dietary, health, or lifestyle changes.*

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, Livin' the Crunchy Life will receive a very small commission, but your cost will not change. Thank you for supporting my blog!


  1. Funny I just saw a post on Facebook about the "appalling" ingredient in gummy candy... showing a pic of a pile of bones and cartilage being scooped up by a tractor... my initial thought was "isn't it wonderful to be using the WHOLE animal... seems more efficient and respectful to me...."

    That being said I don't eat gelatin as a general rule, but would like to start making bone broth. What's your favorite method?

    OT: Are you doing a Whole 30 for June?

  2. Livin' the Crunchy LifeJune 2, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Hi Kat! Well I imagine if you're a veg*n, it would be quite appalling. :) The Great Lakes brand only uses the beef hides to make their gelatin, but I agree about using the whole animal (of course not from CAFO animals). It's definitely something I am learning more about. I certainly never thought about this stuff years ago, even when I consumed some "strange" parts of animals while in Japan (probably didn't know until after I ate it :)). As for broth -- which I prefer, but don't have access to great sources of bones at the moment -- I basically use a method similar to this: I don't add the raw meat or feet (don't have them). Weston A Price has a lot of great info about making broth (I linked to in the post), but it looks like the link is down at the moment.

  3. Livin' the Crunchy LifeJune 2, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Oh...and yes I am! You? I'm starting tomorrow because I have to finish up testing this recipe which is soooo not Whole30. Excuses, excuses. :)

  4. Hi Jackie! Thanks so much for writing this post, it was really helpful. If using the Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate, how much would you consider to be over-consuming? I want to make sure I'm getting the full benefits without consuming too much. Thanks again!

  5. Livin' the Crunchy LifeAugust 22, 2014 at 1:44 AM

    Hi James! Sorry for the delay in response.

    Check out the Great Lakes for their recommendations. Basically, they say 1-2 servings (so about 2-4 tbsps). I take maybe 1 tbsp a day (and not every day) and have still gained benefits. Too much gelatin can cause digestive upset, so you will likely know if you've consumed too much.

    Here's the link to the recommendation from Great Lakes:

    Thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the post!

  6. Thanks Jackie! I'm very excited to give it a try. I know it was a while ago now, but do you remember about how long it was before you noticed the benefits?

  7. Livin' the Crunchy LifeAugust 26, 2014 at 12:13 AM

    Let me see if I can rack my brain. :)

    I think the changes to my nails (stronger) and hair (thicker) happened fairly quickly. Maybe a few months. The improvements in joint pain were quick too...although I also stopped eating gluten prior to that which helped. The changes to my skin took longer. Maybe 6 months or so. So I guess it all depends on what benefits you are looking for and your own starting point. But I did notice that I had to be consistent for continued improvement. I also consume bone broths and such so that helps too.

    I hope that helps! Come back and let us know how it works out for you. Good luck!

  8. Hi again! The benefits I was mainly looking for were in my skin. While it's only been about 10 days since I started using it my skin seems significantly softer than before. Hopefully a reduction in fine lines and red marks comes as well!

  9. Livin' the Crunchy LifeSeptember 5, 2014 at 10:07 PM

    That's great, James! Keep it up and I'm sure you'll see more results. I
    used to have prominent "frown lines" between my eyes and they are
    significant lighter. Glad it's going well for you!

    Check out my
    post on ACV toner for additional help with red marks. I responded to
    several people in the comments with more about what I've done for my

  10. Mình hiện tại cũng đang bán dong trung ha thao nhat banfucoidan. Nếu có điều kiện ghé thăm mình nhé

    Nấm linh chi nhật bản là sản phẩm hiện đang rất hot trên thì trường. Được cung cấp uy tín nhất tại Chúng tôi còn cung cấp thêm những mặt hàng hot khác đến từ nhật bản như Shiseido Collagen, Đông trùng hạ thảo, ....................

  11. Collagen is a natural protein supplement. It is also important for maintaining youthful appearance of skin. It promotes supple, wrinkle-free and non-sagging skin.

  12. Good article. I first learned about this from the book, "Sip Away Your Wrinkles." I'm a man in my 60s, and I think it has made a definite difference in appearance. I get comments from people who are surprised when they learn my age.

  13. Thank you for this article. I would just like to comment and say that I think gelatin is a miracle super food. I've been drinking bone broth and taking Great Lakes Gelatin for just over 3 months and my skin is amazing. I'm 48 yrs this November and my skin is soft smooth and wrinkle free. I have good genes but you know those laughter lines and frown lines that slowly creep in when you've over 40. Well gelatin will reduce and smooth them out. What i've learned is to take it on a regular basis. I usually drink 1-2 cups of bone broth for 3 days during the week, depending on how often i make it. On days when i don't have any broth i take Great Lakes Gelatin instead. My skin looks better than it did my 30's. No spots, wrinkles or dull skin just amazing clear soft skin with great elasticity. Bone broth and powdered gelatin are miracle foods for your skin. I've recently started drinking red bush tea twice a day too and the way my skin looks is even more amazing. Red bush tea or Rooibos tea has loads of antioxidants and contains natural alpha hydroxy acids that further enhance your skin. Bone broth, Great Lakes gelatin and rooibus is a powerhouse of nutrients that will give you great skin. No wonder i look younger.


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