A key reason to consider adding gelatin to your diet is for its potential healing effects on the gut. Let’s take a look at how it might help.
Gelatin is seen to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body and can be healing to the gut. Studies show effects on reducing diarrhea, improving the gut barrier, and anti-colitis effects.
Gut barrier function
As you probably know, the major part of our immune system is in the gut, so keeping the gut healthy is key. Often times our gut can lose its good barrier function. When this happens, particles from foods and bacteria can pass through the barrier and enter into the bloodstream when normally they wouldn’t. These particles may then cause the immune system to see them as “foreign” and mount an attack on them. So it is important to have a good barrier so we don’t get autoimmunity and other barrier related issues.
Gelatin is seen in studies to help to improve the mucus layer, which is an integral part of this barrier. It may also heal intestinal cells, and help build new tissue, especially the villi – those small fingerlike projections throughout the intestine.
This may all help in the prevention of autoimmune diseases, reduce the reactivity of the gut, and reduce chronic diarrhea.
Inflammatory bowel disease – gelatin for colitis
One of the reasons I started looking at incorporating gelatin into the diet for clients was because of the research on its use for colitis. Animal research has shown that in a model of colitis, gelatin reduced disease activity, bodyweight loss, and preserved colon length. It also impacted dysbiosis and improved the gut mucus layer thickness and composition. The conclusion of the study was that it enhanced the gut barrier, and re-established gut homeostasis by:
- Restoring intestinal permeability
- Improving mucus layer integrity
- Modulating microbiota composition
How does gelatin have these effects?
You may recall from last week’s what is gelatin blog post, that gelatin has quite a different ratio and composition of amino acids (building blocks of proteins) compared to other proteins. The amino acids high in gelatin are glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline.
- prevented colon shortening
- reduced histology scores
- reduced the levels of inflammatory chemicals (cytokines) in the colon
- improved food intake
- reduced body weight loss
- reduced loose stools and fecal blood.
Part of the picture
So what can we get from all this?
If your gut is healthy, you can still add some gelatin to your diet. It is a good source of protein and may help to preserve your gut function.