Gelatin is a colourless and flavourless ingredient derived from collagen which in turn is got from animal body parts. Gelatin has many uses and is used in cosmetics, medications and also popularly as a gelling agent in cooking. Gelatin also has wonderful hair care and skin care benefits, if both consumed internally and applied externally.
What is Gelatin?
Most of us use gelatin regularly for making desserts but only very few of us know fully about it. Gelatin is derived from collagen which is the most plentiful protein found in both humans and animals. It is found all over the body especially in skin, cartilage, tendons, bones and ligaments. Collagen is essential for skin elasticity and it also plays a vital role in joint and bone health.
How is Gelatin Made ?
The skin and bones of selected animals are cut finely and taken along with water in a large vat. To the water an acidic medium like vinegar is added to make the collagen soluble in water. Then the mixture is heated at different temperatures to help the collegen dissolve in the water. Once it is dissolved, three layers get formed, the top layer is the fat, the middle layer is the collagen and the bottom layer is the undissolved solid matter.
Both the top layer and the bottom layer are removed and the middle layer alone is taken and goes through purification process. After the purification a clear liquid is left then the liquid is dried to get a thick honey like liquid. Then the concentrate is pressed into noodle like shapes, then again dried. Finally it is powdered and packaged.
Types of Gelatin:
1. Leaf Gelatin
Leaf gelatin is nothing but gelatin sheets. It is got by dissolving final gelatin powder in water and then it is pressed into sheets. In India we don’t get leaf gelatin easily but you can order it online if you need it.
2. Gelatin Powder
In India we get unflavored gelatin powder and flavored gelatin powder easily. Unflavored gelatin powder is the pure gelatin powder without any additional flavorings. I always prefer to buy unflavored gelatin so I can use it in various recipes and also for skin care.
3. Gelatin Capsules:
Gelatin capsules are easily available and is generally taken for treating arthritis, brittle bones also called osteoporosis and it is also used for strengthening bones, joints and nails. Gelatin capsules are also taken for improving hair and skin quality.
Gelatin Common Names In India
Gelatin goes by the same name in all the Indian languages including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Punjabi and Marathi as it is it as an ingredient that does not have a long usage history.
Gelatin Medicinal Uses
1. Rich In Amino Acids
Since gelatin is almost 98 to 99% protein, it contains many of the essential amino acids. The amino acid content of gelatin varies depending on the type of animal tissue used. Gelatin is rich in amino acids like alanine, glycine, proline, lysine, glutamic acid, hydroxyproline, crystine and leucine. In this, glycine, alanine, hydroxyproline and proline are found in abundance in gelatin which are essential for performing many important body functions.
2. Good For Arthritic Patients
Osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis happens when the cartilage between the joints break down which leads to inflammation and pain. Consuming collagen has been proven to reduce stiffness and pain and you can read the study that supports this claim here
. Another benefit of consuming gelatin as opposed to arthritic medications is the low side effect.
3. Good For Skin And Hair
Consuming collagen rich foods (which gelatin is derived from) have always been advised to improve our skin and hair by medical professionals. Any form of collagen like fish collagen, beef collagen or even pork collagen can improve the skin moisture with regular use.
Also supplementing our regular diet with just one tablespoon of gelatin daily has been proven to increase the hair diameter averaging up to almost 9% to 11% which is very significant. If you are suffering from hair loss I would suggest consuming gelatin or collagen supplements regularly.
4. Good For Mental Health
To function adequately, our central nervous system requires many amino acids especially tryptophan, tyrosine, histidine, arginine and glycine. Amino acid imbalances is one of the leading cause for many mental problems from schizophrenia to obsessive compulsive disorder. Gelatin is especially rich in amino acids arginine and glycine which are very important for brain function and mental health. Glycine which is found in abundance in gelatin also helps us sleep better.
5. Good For Athletes
Injury during sports is very common and is usually the major setback for an athlete. Consuming collagen rich foods helps heal the wound faster as it has an anabolic effect on cartilage tissue. A study
that was done for 24 weeks in athletes proved that consuming collagen regularly can reduce pain and inflammation and it also helped with faster healing after an injury.
6. Helps With Weight Loss
If you have been on a calorie controlled diet, you would have realized the importance of consuming foods that keeps one fuller for long and gelatin tops that list. When obese patients were given gelatin, it kept them fuller for long, making it easier to stick to their diet plan and you can read the study that supports this claim here
7. Good For Diabetic Patients
Foods rich in glycine like gelatin helps prevent tissue damage caused by chronic inflammation which is very common in diabetic patients. In a study, 74 patients with type 2 diabetes were split into two and one group was given glycine and the other was given placebo for about three months. The group that was given glycine showed marked improvement in reduction of chronic inflammation.
8. Protects Liver
Gelatin is rich in proline which helps eradicate free radicals, has antioxidant properties, protects mitochondria, promotes energy production and it also has a protective effect especially on our liver. Glycine which is also an another amino acid found in abundance in gelatin also has a protective effect on our liver. Consuming foods rich in both these amino acids helps mitigate liver damage to a great extent.
9. Anti Tumor Properties
Gelatin has been proven to have powerful anticancer properties and gelatin obtained from pigs have shown to have antiproliferative activities against three human tumor cell lines (erythroleukemia, colon carcinoma and gastric carcinoma). However gelatin got from cows (bovine gelatin) did not have the same properties. Also glycine has been proven to inhibit the growth of melanoma tumors.
Where To Buy Gelatin?
We can buy both flavored and unflavored gelatin easily in all the departmental stores in India. We can also order them online too. Gelatin capsules are available in all the pharmacies in India….
Gelatin Side Effects
Excessive consumption of gelatin can lead to bloating and heaviness in the stomach. Rarely some people can be allergic to gelatin too. When used in skin care, it dries too tightly on the skin which makes it very effective for removing blackheads but this can also be very painful while removing from the face especially if you have lot of facial hair.
3 Top Ways To Use Gelatin For Hair, Skin & Health:
1. In Cooking:
At home I regularly use gelatin to set puddings. Instead of buying store bought desserts filled with colour and preservatives, we can make our own healthy desserts at home using gelatin. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of gelatin over 2 cups of milk and let gelatin bloom for about five minutes. Then heat it in double boiler till the gelatin melts. Now remove and add vanilla essence and honey to taste. Mix well and put into moulds. Serve it topped with fresh fruits.
2. For Skin Care:
I use gelatin for making peel off masks at home. To make the pack, first take a small piece of jaggery in a bowl. Add in 3 tablespoons of water to it. Now boil this mixture on a low flame till the jaggery is dissolved into the water and strain. Now take two tablespoons of jaggery water in a bowl. Add in a tablespoon of gelatin to it. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes till the gelatin blooms. Now heat this mixture in a double boiler till the gelatin is full dissolved. To the dissolved geltain mixture, add in 1/4 teaspoon of honey and mix well. Now your homemade peel off mask is ready!
3. For Hair Care:
For hair care, we can make a simple gelatin hair pack. To make the hair pack, take 1/3rd cup of coconut milk mixed with a teaspoon of unrefined coconut oil. Now sprinkle 2 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin on top. Wait for it to bloom for 5 minutes and then heat it in a double boiler till the gelatin melts. Now let it sit in the fridge till it thickens, mix well into a smooth paste and you can use it is a hair pack. This hair pack will make the hair super shiny and soft.