A South American proverb states, “Fish broth will cure anything”. The more I read about meat and fish stock and gelatin, that more inclined I am to believe this! I have been taking gelatin and/or making my own fish, meat and bone broths for about 8 months now, and have seen renewed health in my gums, skin and toenails. In Nourishing Traditions (probably my favorite cookbook), Sally Fallon writes about how meat and fish stocks were almost universally used in traditional cuisines, and how this culinary practice has almost vanished in America due to our “modern meat processing techniques and our hurry-up, throwaway lifestyle”. We are seriously missing out!! Here she writes about the benefits of gelatin:
The public is generally unaware of the large amount of research on the beneficial effects of gelatin taken with food. Gelatin acts first and foremost as an aid to digestion and has been used successfully in the treatment of many intestinal disorders, including hyperacidity, colitis and Chron’s disease…Gelatin also seems to be of use in the treatment of many chronic disorders, including anemia and other diseases of the blood, diabetes, muscular dystrophy and even cancer. Other important ingredients that go into broths are the components of cartilage, which recently have been used with remarkable results in the treatment of cancer and bone disorders, and of collagen, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments.
Ray Peat echos these sentiments in his article titled Gelatin, stress, longevity, writing, “The degenerative and inflammatory diseases can often be corrected by the use of gelatin-rich foods.” He goes on to write about glycine and proline, the two main amino acids present in gelatin:
When we eat animal proteins in the traditional ways (for example, eating fish head soup, as well as the muscles, or “head-cheese” as well as pork chops, and chicken-foot soup as well as drumsticks), we assimilate a large amount of glycine and gelatin. This whole-animal balance of amino acids supports all sorts of biological process, including a balanced growth of children’s tissues and organs.
When only the muscle meats are eaten, the amino acid balance entering our blood stream is the same as that produced by extreme stress, when cortisol excess causes our muscles to be broken down to provide energy and material for repair. The formation of serotonin is increased by the excess tryptophan in muscle, and serotonin stimulates the formation of more cortisol, while the tryptophan itself, along with the excess muscle-derived cysteine, suppresses the thyroid function.
A generous supply of glycine/gelatin, against a balanced background of amino acids, has a great variety of antistress actions. Glycine is recognized as an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, and promotes natural sleep. Used as a supplement, it has helped to promote recovery from strokes and seizures, and to improve learning and memory. But in every type of cell, it apparently has the same kind of quieting, protective antistress action. The range of injuries produced by an excess of tryptophan and serotonin seems to be prevented or corrected by a generous supply of glycine. Fibrosis, free radical damage, inflammation, cell death from ATP depletion or calcium overload, mitochondrial damage, diabetes, etc., can be prevented or alleviated by glycine. (the emphasis is mine)
Some types of cell damage are prevented almost as well by alanine and proline as by glycine, so the use of gelatin, rather than glycine, is preferable, especially when the gelatin is associated with its normal biochemicals. For example, skin is a rich source of steroid hormones, and cartilage contains “Mead acid,” which is itself antiinflammatory.
Ray Peat advises consuming 5 – 10 grams of gelatin with meat to help balance out the amino acids entering the bloodstream.
Recently, I was interested to read a post by Sarah Pope of The Healthy Home Economist where she blogged about another benefit of including gelatin in your diet. Until reading her post, I was unaware that the gelatin in my meat and bone broths was actually helping my liver to detoxify!
Gelatin not only helps the liver do its job effectively. It also helps the liver function normally if it is having problems.
Dr. Reuben Ottenberg in 1935 suggested in the Journal of the American Medical Association that patients with jaundice or other liver problems be administered 5-10 grams of gelatin per day as food or via a powdered gelatin supplement to supply additional glycine to the diet in order to encourage normalized hepatic function.
Read her full post here.
When you combine the facts that bone broths make any soup way more delicious, provide the much needed support for our adrenals, offer such a rich source for much needed minerals, nourish our bodyʼs ability to build healthier blood, along with care for all the connective tissues throughout our bodies, you can see why we consider bone broths to be such a foundational dietary pillar for anyone looking to navigate to greater oral health as well as create optimal system wide immunological health.
And I could go on…however, I think you get the point. For truly optimal health, start including gelatin, particularly from fish, meat and bone broth, into your diet now!!