Have you ever been at the beach and looked over to see an obviously very-pregnant woman frolicking in the waves with her kiddos- her belly taught and skin-glowing, without a stretch mark in sight- and silently wondered to yourself how that is even possible? Or perhaps you’re more like me…just groaning under your breath about how it’s not fair that some people get to look like that while preggo, while you’ll probably end up looking like some version of a stretch-mark-laden hippopotamus.
Or perhaps, also like me, you’ve had stretch marks since you hit puberty (among a myriad of other pubescent skin snafus) and have relegated yourself away from the hopes of ever having that beautiful, glowing skin you see on magazine covers.
And let’s not pretend it’s only females that have longed for velvety soft, so-perfect-it’s-almost-airbrushed skin. I know many a male who has dealt with patches of rough flakiness or a small collection of stretch marks from that post-adolescent time period in life where metabolism had slowed down, but old eating habits hadn’t.
Well, I have good news for you.
There is a nutritional secret to preventing stretch marks and achieving glowing skin that you probably have never heard of.
…and it’s a relative of your favorite childhood snack, jello.
Ladies & Gents, allow me to introduce you to a long-lost friend: collagen.
And no, I’m not talking about injections your friendly neighborhood dermatologist might be
giving out charging significant amounts of dough for at the clinic down the street.
A protein found in animal connective tissue, collagen is one of the primary components of our skin, cartilage, bone, ligaments/tendons, and teeth. It strengthens our blood vessels, cartilage, and other connective tissues in the body. In our skin, collagen populates the dermis layer, providing it with the flexibility and resilience that it so desperately needs.
“The papillary dermis consists of fine fibers of type III collagen that make the skin pliable, while the reticulate dermis is made of the broad type I collagen and gives the skin tensile strength. Collagen gives the skin structural stability, resilience and durability. It is responsible for what the skin looks like. Absence of collagen in the skin causes wrinkle formation and a thin dermis.” You can read more here.
…But how do you battle an absence or reduction of collagen in the skin?
While much of the way our body produces and uses collagen is in our genes (which is why you, your mom, and her mom might all have stretch marks in the same place), there has been research done to analyze the effects of consuming collagen on skin health.
“Due to collagen hydrolysate’s excellent bioavailability status and the fact that there is a high collagen content in the skin, research has been conducted on collagen intake and its effects on skin health.
In one of these clinical investigations, researchers gave healthy Japanese women 10 grams of collagen hydrolysate or a placebo for 60 days and monitored the hydration status of their skin. A gradual, non-significant improvement of water absorption capacity was observed in those women who ingested the collagen hydrolysate in comparison with the placebo group. The investigator concluded that the unique amino acid and peptide profile of collagen may have been responsible for the positive effects observed on skin.” You can read more here.
So what does this have to do with jello?
Well, gelatin (what gives jello its “gel”) just happens to be none other than hydrolyzed collagen. Though consuming jello is not the only way you can get more of this skin-savvy ingredient into your diet.
Here are 4 foods you can eat to increase your consumption of collagen/gelatin.
- Bone broth: Because collagen occurs naturally in the connective tissues of animals, it gives homemade broth a nice “gel” that can be frozen in a concentrated form and used as an easy base for soups, stews, and sauces. Bone broth is also a great source of minerals,
- Homemade Jello: I can’t stress enough the word homemade here. The key to “healthy” jello is not found in the sugar-free box you can buy at your local supermarket. Instead, you want to use 100% grass-fed gelatin (what the animal itself ate affects the nutrient quality of the gelatin) to make your own delicious homemade jello recipe. Did I mention that making it from scratch only takes about 5 minutes and will make the hospital stuff seem like fake, flavorless goo? (Oh right, that’s because it is.)
- Gelatin Drink: While this is definitely the least fancy option, it is by far the quickest and easiest way to get a little more gelatin/collagen in that body of yours. Simply choose a beverage of choice (preferably warm or hot so that it dissolves easier) and stir in a few tablespoons of gelatin. Drink promptly!
- Homemade Fruit Snacks/Gummies: This is my latest favorite for two reasons. A) These are super simple to make (maybe 5 minutes of prep time – and that’s being generous). B) These are some of the tastiest grab-and-go snacks I’ve been able to make since switching to real food. Neither of these reasons are to mention the fact that eating these makes you feel a little more “normal” amidst the rest of the SAD (Standard American Diet) population. Below is my recipe for these little delicious treats.
adapted from Mommypotamus’ recipe
- 1 cup lime juice
- 9 Tbsp grass-fed gelatin
- 6 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 cup crushed blackberries/strawberries
- Combine lime juice, gelatin, and honey in small saucepan.
- Heat over medium heat, stirring regularly, until gelatin is dissolved and mixture is very “melty.”
- Turn off heat and stir in crushed berries.
- Pour mixture into silicone molds (I used silicone cupcake liners that I already had, but there are also much “cuter” options like stars, flowers, etc. out there for kiddo purposes), taking care to use a spatula to get all of the mixture out of pan.
- Pop filled silicone molds into the freezer for 10 minutes to allow for them to cool/set-up.
- Remove molds from freezer and pop out gummies. They can now be stored at room temperature! (I kept mine in the fridge because I like the “coldness.”)
- Enjoy feeling like a kid again!
*This post has been featured on Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, Living Green Tuesdays, Tasteful Tuesdays, Scratch Cookin’ Tuesdays, Butter Believer’s Sunday School, Momnivore’s Dilemma, Fill Those Jars Fridays, Comfy in the Kitchen, Freaky Friday.