Where I live in the mountains of Northeastern Oregon, cabin fever can start setting in during February. It is snowing, raining (oddly) and often dark. There is a shift, however, that starts happening in our biology. In Chinese Medicine, we call it the yin time of the year. That means that it is a time for inward focused activities, like cooking. If you’re from California, the tropics or a place without seasons, this can be a bit of a gear grinder at first.
It really is a good time to get creative in the kitchen and experiment with new recipes. If you’re like me, you may be trying to get as much medicine from your food while still tasting amazing. The latest nutrient-dense food that I’ve become enamored with is gelatin.
Just to be clear, I don’t mean store bought Jell-O. Conventional cattle and other animals are fed an overwhelming amount of antibiotics, chemicals and GMO foods that cause havoc on our endocrine and digestive systems. So please, prioritize grass-fed, organic products in this instance.
Gelatin is actually the cooked version of the collagen protein. First of all collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It is literally what holds our bodies together. In Greek collagen means “glue.” Eating collagen benefits your eyes, skin, hair, gut, heart, brain, tendons, ligaments and bones. Collagen contains amino acids that are our body’s raw materials to rebuild our bodies.
Collagen hydrosylate is what is usually sold in tasteless powders. It is gelatin that has been broken down into smaller pieces. Some people find it easier to digest and can fit it into their lives better because they can throw it in a smoothie on the go. However, it is a lot more economical to cook bone broths and make gelatin deserts, though.
Gelatin and collagen are really important because we don’t get a lot of it in our modern diets. It is often found in odd bits of tougher meats that have a lot of connective tissue. In many traditional societies people boil joints, tendons and bones in large pots to make soup stock. When cooled, the soups have a solid, jelly-like consistency. That’s what we want!
The Paleo and Ketogenic diets focus a lot on nutrients that our modern diets are low in such as collagen. Collagen is lost in our bodies with aging, high sugar diets, smoking, nutrient deficiencies and genetics. Most of us probably have some joint, muscle, ligament or tendon issue. Tendons, in fact are 80% collagen.
Diets high collagen support repair of the body and prevent further damage and are particularly important for people suffering with musculo-skeletal pain. The result of one double-blind, placebo controlled randomized study showed that collagen helped to “manage osteoarthritis and maintain joint health.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24852756 Another study showed lower rates of inflammation and 4/60 cases had a complete remission in patients with Rheumatoid arthritis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8378772
Collagen is not only helpful in the joints but also in the gut. Nearly everyone works on weight-loss at some point in his or her life. In one study participants were given 20 grams of gelatin and what they found was very interesting. After 60 minutes over-weight and lean participants had sustained levels of a gut hormone called ghrelin, which is in charge of satiation. If you are more satisfied by the food that you eat, you will be less tempted to overeat and will stay satiated longer. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18319637
When talking about the gut and weight-loss, an important question that is often overlooked is: what is the physical condition of my gut presently? Leaky gut is a graphically named syndrome that is simply large holes in the intestinal lining which reduce our immunity by allowing large foreign bodies into the body and increasing systemic inflammation. Some causes of these holes are: stress, sleep deprivation, alcoholism, NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, gut flora disruptors like antibiotics and gluten.
Everyone loves to pick on gluten. I recently read a hilarious “Ode to Gluten.” I’m a third generation Celiac, so I don’t have much of a choice if I want to remain healthy. But I want people to know that wheat’s protein gluten is not inherently bad, it’s Big AG that is making us sick. Wheat in the U.S. is genetically modified to be able to withstand Glyphosate or Round-Up. Then, it is drenched in glyphosate right before harvest in a process called “desiccation.” I have European friends who can eat bread in Europe but not the U.S.
So, you guessed it. The “glue” called collagen heals your gut. Leaky gut leads to a slew
of inflammatory issues such as food sensitivities and autoimmune disease.
https://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2017/FO/C6FO01347C#!divCitation Getting back to weight-loss, I think it is important to distinguish a person who’s natural shape is “big-boned,” pear shaped or simply round in the belly from someone who’s body is sick. Getting your gut healthy often leads to a natural shunting of excess weight and ideal health.
One last point that I will emphasize before giving you some delicious recipes to add to your table is about Vitamin C. I’ve often wondered why it is so important. Many people think that it is good for colds and flus, but actually it is necessary for collagen synthesis in the body. There are many other minerals and vitamins that are extremely important as well.
Traditional Bone Broth
Put 2-3 beef (or large animal bones) in the oven on broil and toast each side until caramel.
Put the bones in pot and cover with water. (I use an Insta-Pot set for 4 hours. A crockpot works good set on low overnight. Or regular pot simmering for 6 hours.)
Add 2 Tbl. Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
At the end add fresh herbs, sautéed veggies, salt.
Cool off and add to mason jars to freeze.
You can add the stock to any of your favorite soup recipes.
For the sweet tooth:
3 cups apple juice (unsweetened)
1 cup water
4 tbl. Grass-fed gelatin powder
1 cups frozen berries
1 chopped grapefruit
Heat the apple juice in a saucepan until just breaks a boil
Mix the gelatin in the cup of water with a whisk and then add to the hot juice.
Mix it up and pour into a Pyrex pan (9x11 or anything really)
Let is set in the fridge for four hours before serving. Yum!
For on the go just pop a scoop of organic grass-fed collagen into your usual smoothie and sip goodness on the go…