Cartilage is the rubbery tissue the covers the ends of your bones. It acts much like a shock absorber, preventing your bones from grinding against each other. Joint cartilage is made of mostly water and chondrocytes.
Chondrocytes are specialized cells that produce collagen and elastin fibers (which give cartilage its strength and structural integrity), and proteoglycans (proteins involved in keeping the joints lubricated and nourished).
As we age, our chondrocytes don’t function as efficiently. As a result, old or damaged cartilage breaks down faster than it can be replaced with fresh, new cartilage. (Injuries and excess weight also put a tremendous amount of stress on cartilage, causing quick deterioration as well.) With less of this spongy cushioning between the joints, bones press against each other and pain follows.
Gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. It is usually obtained from cows or pigs. Gelatin is used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics; as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings in candies, marshmallows, cakes, ice cream, and yogurts; on photographic film; and in vitamins as a coating and as capsules, and it is sometimes used to assist in “clearing” wines. Gelatin is not vegan. However, there is a product called “agar agar” that is sometimes marketed as “gelatin,” but it is vegan. It is derived from a type of seaweed.
When cooking with bones that still have a good amount of joint tissue on them (like necks, knuckles, ribs or the leftover carcass from a roasted chicken) that tissue cooks down and dissolves into the broth. Joint building blocks like gelatin and chondroitin sulfate (which are sold as expensive supplements to treat and prevent osteoarthritis) are readily available in bone broth, easily absorbed by our bodies and are quickly employed to rebuild and repair our connective tissue, which includes joints, tendons and ligaments.
The best way to eat gelatin
Homemade bone broths
Cooking down your bones from good quality pastured and grass-fed animals will provide you with a gelatin-rich broth to use in soups, stews, and to drink.
Homemade fruit snacks
By just combining fruit juice and powdered gelatin, you can make tasty fruit snacks the whole family will love.
Powdered gelatin can be used in making tasty desserts of all sorts. Homemade jellos, mousses, and puddings with gelatin are the best. You can even make marshmallows.
Powdered gelatin can be added to water, juices, or teas for a healthy drink supplement. You can add it to your smoothies as a protein powder. I like THIS one because it dissolves easily in liquid without having to heat it. It has a smaller molecular structure so it dissolves in cold water and will NOT gel.
Add it to your own soups and stews
Powdered gelatin is so versatile. You can put it in just about anything. Try adding a bit to the next soup or stew you make.