health

Jell-O: The Powdered Ingredient That Has A Huge Impact On Your Joints, Hair, And Skin

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Do you love a good gelatin dessert? There’s something endlessly appealing about this jiggly confection. It’s something about how you can squish it through your teeth and slurp it down. It also comes in a rainbow of flavors, and if you buy the plain stuff, you can make your own custom flavors using fruit juice (or booze, if it’s one of those parties).

It also never ceases to fascinate people with its wobbly but shape-keeping properties, which is why the ’50s and ’60s exploded with gelatin aquariums. More recently, though, Jell-O soda bottles became a strange viral trend.

What you might not realize is that as alien-seeming as gelatin is, it’s actually a naturally derived food, and it’s really good for you! So the next time you decide to indulge in a little Jell-O, you’re actually doing your body a considerable amount of good.

The other cool thing about gelatin is that it can take a lot of forms, not just the classic Jell-O mold. It might even be lurking in things you eat all the time — but that’s a good thing! Gelatin is packed with nutrients that are great for your whole body.

Read on to discover what gelatin can do for you, and remember, although they have gelatin, go easy on the Jell-O shots!

Thumbnail Photos: Flickr, 2

What Is Gelatin?

What Is Gelatin?
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Gelatin is what happens when you cook collagen, which is the most abundant protein in animal tissue like skin, bones, cartilage, and hooves.

Gelatin is created by cooking these parts of the animal. If you’ve ever refrigerated a homemade soup and found it turned to jelly, that’s gelatin!

Now, eating the extracted stuff from bones and hooves might sound gross, but think about it this way: if you’re going to eat an animal, you might as well make the most of every part and not let it go to waste, right?

What Are The Benefits Of Gelatin?
Gelatin Benefit #1: It Helps Keep Joints Healthy

<u>What Are The Benefits Of Gelatin?</u><br>Gelatin Benefit #1: It Helps Keep Joints Healthy
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Collagen is a major part of cartilage, the main thing that keeps your bendy parts moving freely and painlessly.

Gelatin is mainly made up of collagen, and so it’s great for keeping your cartilage in good shape by replenishing the tissue.

It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with aches and pains.

Gelatin Benefit #2: It's Great For Skin, Nails, And Hair

Gelatin Benefit #2: It's Great For Skin, Nails, And Hair
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You’ve probably heard of all kinds of beauty treatments boasting collagen as an ingredient, because it’s known to make skin youthful and plump, and make hair and nails shiny and strong.

A great way to get an extra boost of collagen is to eat foods with gelatin in them. That way, your body can supply it to your nails, hair, and skin from the inside out.

Gelatin Benefit #3: It Keeps You Calm

Gelatin Benefit #3: It Keeps You Calm
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Gelatin has been shown to create a calming effect on the nervous system thanks to its amino acids. One study has also shown that gelatin soothed the symptoms of anxiety.

Gelatin Benefit #4: It Helps You Sleep

Gelatin Benefit #4: It Helps You Sleep
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Glycine, the main amino acid in gelatin, has been shown to improve sleep quality in human subjects, which in turn made them less groggy and more functional during the day.

The study showed it was just as effective as traditional sleep-aid medication, but that it worked in the body in a different way.

Gelatin Benefit #5: Reduces Digestive Inflammation

Gelatin Benefit #5: Reduces Digestive Inflammation
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Inflammation of the digestive tract can cause all kinds of uncomfortable issues like IBS, colitis, and heartburn.

Gelatin, though, is great for soothing and reducing inflammation in the cells that line your digestive tract, making digestion smoother and easier, and making sure that your organs stay healthy.

How Can I Get More Gelatin Into My Diet?
Gelatin Prep #1: Make Soups And Broths From Animal Bones

<u>How Can I Get More Gelatin Into My Diet?</u><br>Gelatin Prep #1: Make Soups And Broths From Animal Bones
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Cooking soups, stews, stocks, and broths with animal bones draws out the collagen content and infuses it into the soup. Simply cook the bones of your dinner with some onions, celery, and carrots, and you’ll have stock!

If you’re cooking with bones, add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the broth to draw out even more, as well as the calcium content (you won’t taste the vinegar when it’s all cooked, we promise).

Gelatin Prep #2: Take It As A Supplement

Gelatin Prep #2: Take It As A Supplement
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A simple, easy way to get more gelatin is to simply take it in supplement form. It comes in several forms. You can find capsules that you can simply swallow, or you can get a dissolvable form that can be added to juices, smoothies, and beverages.

Gelatin Prep #3: Make Your Own Gelatin Desserts

Gelatin Prep #3: Make Your Own Gelatin Desserts
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Want gelatin? Eat Jell-O, of course! You can also make custom jellies by using traditional gelatin powder that dissolves in hot water. Add juices to flavor, throw in some fruit, and you’ll have your own take on the mid-century Jell-O salad.

When you’re looking for gelatin, it’s a good idea to look for grass-fed options, as they’ll have higher levels of nutrients.

What If I'm A Vegetarian?

What If I'm A Vegetarian?
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Honestly, gelatin is not vegetarian, as it comes from animal parts. So if you’re a dedicated veggie, you may not want to add it to your diet. However, if you like wiggly desserts, you can use agar, a plant-based substitute.

Agar won’t have the same nutritional properties as gelatin, but it’s not without its merits. It’s full of dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as other minerals.

Are you a fan of wiggly jiggly gelatin? Let us know your favorite jelly dessert in the comments, and SHARE this superfood with anyone looking to stay healthy!