The prevalence of gut disorders like SIBO, IBS, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis have skyrocketed in the past decade. While it is terrible that so many people are suffering from these diseases, there is one upside. We are finally talking about gut health!
Why Gut Health Matters
Gut health certainly doesn’t seem like a sexy topic. Yet, we are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of gut health. Below are just some of the reasons you should care about your gut (even if you don’t currently have gut problems).
The Gut is the “Second Brain”
Research in the new field of neurogastroenterology is coming up with some amazing findings. We now know that the gut isn’t just a place where digestion is handled.
The human digestive tract contains 100 million neurons. To put this in perspective, that’s more than found in the spinal cord and the entire peripheral nervous system. Neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine are also found in the gut.(1)
It shouldn’t be too surprising that the gut is actually linked to our emotional health. We’ve all felt “butterflies” in our stomachs in response to stress, after all. What is surprising is that it is a two-way street: just as stress can affect the gut; the gut can affect our minds.
This is great news for the millions of people suffering from GI disorders that were dismissed as “due to stress.” Yes, stress does affect conditions like ulcers and SIBO – but those same conditions could be causing the stress! (2)
Gut Flora is more important than we ever thought
In addition to all of the neurons in our gut, we’ve also got 100 trillion bacteria in our intestines alone. This is 10x the number of cells we have in our bodies!
We are only now learning about how important gut flora is to our overall health, yet the results are astounding. Research now shows that imbalances in gut flora are linked to:
The Gut Absorbs Nutrients
Each part of the digestive tract is important but the small intestine is key when it comes to absorbing nutrients.
The inner wall of the small intestine (called the mucosa) is covered in finger-like projections called villi. The villi increase the surface area of the gut so nutrients can be absorbed better.(7)
If your gut is damaged, then it will not be able to absorb nutrients efficiently. No wonder people with conditions like celiac disorder have higher rates of nutrient deficiencies.(8) Take as many supplements as you want – it will be for nothing if your body isn’t absorbing them!
Why You Might Need Gut Healing
We know that a damaged gut can lead to all sorts of health problems. But what would cause your gut to be damaged in the first place? There are two leading causes:
1. Poor Diet
Today, most people eat a diet which consists of mostly junk foodstuffs that irritate the lining of the gut. Eating these foods occasionally wouldn’t be a problem. However, when you eat junky proinflammatory foods on a daily basis; it can cause gaps to occur in your gut mucosa.
Sugary foods (including “healthy” carbs like whole grains) also can cause problems. Certain types of bacteria in the gut love these sugary foods and feed off of them. The result is an imbalance in gut flora.
2. Antibiotic Use
While antibiotics certainly have their place, we are in the midst of a crisis because of how over-prescribed antibiotics are.
Antibiotics indiscriminately kill off bacteria in your body – including the “good” bacteria. This too can lead to an imbalance in gut flora.(9)
Gelatin: The Gut-Healing Superfood
Gelatin is the name for cooked collagen which is the most abundant protein found in our body. It is primarily made up of the amino acids glycine and proline. It also happens to be a gut-healing superfood!(10)
There are three main ways that gelatin will heal your gut:
1. Gelatin Heals the Gut Lining
The lining of the gut contains collagen and adequate intake of collagen is crucial for maintaining it. When you consume gelatin, it basically acts like spackle to fill any holes you have in your gut. Gelatin also lines the gut mucosa to guard against further injury. (11, 12)
2. Gelatin Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is your gut’s worst enemy. When your gut becomes inflamed (such as from food sensitivities), holes appear in it. Partially-digested food is able to escape through those holes in a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Here is where things get bad.
The body mistakes those foods for harmful invaders and sends its “army” to attack them. The immune system becomes overactive and can start attacking itself, aka autoimmune disease.
3. Gelatin Increases Gastric Acid Production
Wait, increases gastric acid production? Then won’t gelatin cause ulcers???
Contrary to what all those heartburn medicine ads tell you, our bodies need gastric acid for healthy digestion. In fact, a deficiency of gastric acid causes heartburn!
Without enough gastric acid, your body isn’t able to break down foods properly. Bacteria feed off of the food and produce gas as a byproduct. This results in inflammation which is what pushes stomach acids into your esophagus causing those terrible heartburn symptoms. (15, 16)
How to Eat Gelatin to Heal the Gut
The good news is that it is easy to get the health benefits of gelatin. There are a lot of ways to add gelatin to your diet.
- Drink Bone Broth: Bone broth is naturally rich in gelatin. No wonder it has been the go-to remedy for GI ailments for centuries!
- Eat Gelatin: You can make gelatin desserts or just add a scoop of gelatin to a smoothie. Just know that the quality of gelatin matters if you want health benefits.
- Use Hydrolyzed Collagen: Remember, gelatin is just cooked collagen. You can get the same benefits of gelatin by taking collagen. The only difference is that gelatin gels and collagen won’t – which means you can put it into your morning tea or coffee. Read more about the Difference between Gelatin and Collagen.
Want to learn more about how gelatin can revitalize your health?
Read The Gelatin Secret: The Surprising Superfood which Transforms Your Health and Beauty. You’ll not only learn all about how to utilize gelatin, but also get lots of great paleo-friendly gelatin recipes.