Gelatin is one of the most impressive superfoods out there with benefits that range from fighting wrinkles to regulating weight. However, one gelatin benefit that often gets overlooked is that it fights inflammation!
Why Is Inflammation So Terrible?
Inflammation is how our bodies respond to traumas, such as a physical injury or a microbial assault. The body releases immune cells to the area. Those cells then release chemicals (including those that cause inflammation) to help protect and heal the area.
In this sense, acute inflammation is a good thing. We couldn’t live without inflammation to protect us from disease. But the problem isn’t acute inflammation. The problem is with chronic inflammation.
As Yale researcher Doctor David Katz explains,
“When the immune system kicks into gear, white blood cells and their byproducts can saturate a region and leave healthy tissue overwrought and stressed. Our healthy tissues are potential collateral damage – victims of friendly fire – as the immune system does its job defending us from pathogens, and rogue cells.”(1)
Health Problems Linked to Inflammation
We are just now starting to understand the far-reaching effects of chronic inflammation. However, chronic inflammation has been linked to numerous health conditions including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
What Causes Chronic Inflammation?
There is no one answer to this, and the reality is that chronic inflammation is likely caused by a myriad of underlying causes. Some of the big ones are:
- Food Sensitivities
- Insufficient sleep
- Poor diet
- Poor Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio
- Gut flora dysbiosis
- Sedentary lifestyle (2)
The good news is that chronic inflammation can be cured and gelatin can help in these 6 big ways!
1. Gelatin Acts Directly on Inflammatory Cells
The inflammation response is very complex and involves a lot of terms that you probably aren’t familiar with (adiponectin gene expression, voltage-dependent calcium channels, or interleukin-10 anyone?).
What you do need to know is that there is significant amounts of research which shows that gelatin (specifically the amino acids glycine and proline found in gelatin) stops the inflammation response!
For example, this study found that glycine acts on inflammatory cells such as macrophages to suppress inflammation.
Another study on glycine found that it up-regulates adiponectin gene expression and could be used to modulate inflammation found in obesity and type 2 diabetes.
And this study found that glycine may prevent tissue damage caused by chronic inflammation.
2. Gelatin Acts as an Inhibitory Neurotransmitter
Neurotransmitters are chemical signals that relay messages between nerve cells. Neurotransmitters can be broken down into two types:
- Excitatory: These neurotransmitters are what stimulate the brain and nervous system.
- Inhibitory: These neurotransmitters counter the excitatory ones and calm the body. (3)
You’ve probably heard about the inhibitory neurotransmitter serotonin. Maybe you’ve heard of GABA? But did you know that glycine is one of the body’s main inhibitory neurotransmitters?
Without enough inhibitory neurotransmitters, your body is constantly “on” and you can suffer from effects like depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability and even seizures. (4)
What’s particularly cool about glycine as a neurotransmitter is that studies show glycine in gelatin can inhibit the inflammation response. (5)
On another note, if you are having trouble sleeping, try consuming gelatin or bone broth before bedtime. It will calm your body and help you get to sleep. You can also try these other great natural sleep aids.
3. Gelatin Has an Anti-Estrogen Effect
A common health problem today is estrogen dominance – a condition in which we have too much estrogen in the body. The major culprit here is the SAD diet, eating too much soy, which is common in vegetarians and vegans, toxins in our food, and hormone-treated dairy and meats.
Now, estrogen is very important for our health. However, when levels get too high, it can cause all sorts of problems. Since estrogen receptors are located throughout the body (including in the heart, liver, bones, and brain), the problems go beyond just your period and reproductive health:
- Accelerated aging
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
The good news here is that the glycine in gelatin has an inhibitory effect on estrogen’s actions. (8) Consuming gelatin can help you offset the excess estrogen in your body, but you’ll still want to take steps like removing estrogen foods from your diet and sticking to hormone-free meat.
4. Gelatin Balances Amino Acid Intake
We humans used to eat the entire animal. We’d make broths out of the bones, ligaments, and even make recipes like “head cheese.” In short, no part of the animal was wasted!
Today, we mostly just eat the muscle meat of animals. While muscle meat is chock full of nutrients, it has a much higher proportion of certain amino acids. Specifically, muscle meat is high in tryptophan and methionine.
High amounts of these amino acids can cause an inflammation response. The simple solution is to start eating gelatin. You’ll be getting a much more balanced intake of amino acids and thwart inflammation in its tracks.
5. Gelatin Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
As I mentioned above, more and more diseases are being linked to inflammation – including high blood sugar and diabetes.
High blood sugar is terrible for our health because our bodies can’t deal with the extra sugar. Here is basically what happens:
- We eat carbs.
- Our blood sugar spikes.
- The pancreas produces insulin.
- Insulin removes the sugar from the blood and stores it as fat.
- Now that blood sugar levels are low, the body releases hunger hormones.
- We start craving sugary foods to boost our blood sugar again.
This results in a vicious cycle of high blood sugar –> fat storage –> food cravings. To make matters worse, our bodies eventually lose their sensitivity to insulin.
Insulin sensitivity doesn’t just mean weight gain and diabetes. Recent research found that insulin resistance causes inflammation. How? Because insulin normally keeps an inflammation-signaling protein called FOXO1 in check. When a person becomes insulin resistant, FOXO1 activity increases. (10)
Gelatin to the rescue again! Research shows that gelatin facilitates the action of insulin. In fact, gelatin has been used to treat diabetes for over 100 years! (11,12)
6. Gelatin Heals Leaky Gut
The final – and possibly most important – way that gelatin fights inflammation is by healing the gut. Though wildly underdiagnosed, a huge percentage of the population suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Leaky gut occurs when the lining of the gut is constantly irritated (food sensitivities are a big culprit here!). Over time, tiny tears appear in the gut lining. Particles of undigested food are allowed to get through. Our immune systems attack these food particles.
The problem is that our immune system can easily get confused. Soon it starts attacking our own cells. The result is inflammation and autoimmune disease!
Gelatin helps solve the problem by literally acting as “spackle” to fill holes in the gut. You can learn more about Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Healing inflammation isn’t the only benefit of gelatin. To learn more about gelatin and how to use it to improve health, read The Gelatin Secret: The Surprising Superfood that Transforms Your Health and Beauty.
Not only will you get insights into one of the world’s best superfoods, but you’ll also get lots of paleo-friendly gelatin recipes! Download your copy here.
Melanie Ahern says
I’ve been using Great Lake’s gelatin, but I haven’t found any solid information on whether it’s grass-fed or not. I’m wondering if I should just make the switch to Vital Proteins, even though I can’t find it locally and I’d have to purchase it online.
Any thoughts? Thanks! 🙂
Have you read, “The China Study”? Research seems to have very clearly pointed out that animal protein is the main source for cancer. So, I am surprised that you recommend meat products.
Also, as far as I understand, food sensitivities don’t cause leaky gut, leaky gut causes food sensitivities. Leaky gut is caused by an overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria.
Your article is really helpful. There are so many new things I am learning. Much thanks for sharing these tips/ this article.”
i have now understood what to do incase of inflammation
Anna S. says
What form of gelatin is best to consume?
How much, how often ?
I have thyroid disease, could gelatin help ?