Can Jell-O be Good for Your Joints?

We all grew up loving Jell-O. The wonderfully bold colors: red, lime-green and orange made eating the gooey stuff even more fun. Heck, before he got all the negative press, Bill Cosby made Jell-O world famous with the slogan: Mmm.. Mmm… good- that’s what Jell-O pudding is just plain good. Well, the latest research seems to indicate this is true!

Jell-O’s main ingredient is actually gelatin. Gelatin sounds a little like Jell-O but this term represents what the ingredients are that make it up. Gelatin is actually the bones of pork, beef and assorted fish ground to a pulp. It doesn’t sound as delightful as Jell-O but interestingly, this strange combination has been found to have significant health benefits.

One of the leading researchers in this area is Keith Barr. He is a scientist at University of California at Davis, and he has been studying the effects of Jell-O on joints. More specifically, he has been testing the benefit of gelatin in strengthening tendons. Dr. Barr takes tendons and ligaments and stretches as much as they can bear and then he analyzes the tendon to see how it holds up under these forces. He has found that in his studies that ingesting gelatin seems to strengthen the tendons so they can handle more physical stress. This will have tremendous application in sports medicine, where so many injuries are due to tendon or ligament tears. I spoke to Dr. Barr last week to hear his thoughts on the widespread application of gelatin for injury prevention. He told me he personally liked making his own Jell-O from Knox’s brand, which is an unsweetened gelatin powder.

I ordered some myself and followed the recipe of adding my own fruit juice and some Stevia for sweetness. It was the first time I made Jell-O since I was a kid! My mom would assist to make sure I didn’t make a mess. It came out ok. I think it was more fun when I didn’t realize it could be healthy!

Dr. Barr had another tip for strengthening tendons. He found from his research that resistance training with lights arthritis cure bookweights for short periods of time- up to 5 minutes per exercise helped stimulate tendon strength, which in turn helped muscle strength. A big mistake it seems is that many weekend athletes go for high weight resistance hoping to bulk up and stimulate increased muscle mass; but what happens all too frequently is that the “weekend warrior” gets injured by tearing a tendon and on the injury list.

I’d like to see more research on this topic for patients with arthritic conditions, because I believe the benefit of glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate- as mentioned in The Arthritis Cure book, may be related to the same concept that the ingredients in bones from animals or fish may have a special ingredient that makes are joints and tendons stronger.

It would be incredible if Jell-O turns out to be the answer for our daily aches and pains! Open wide…. it tastes Soooo Good!

- Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC

Categories: Arthritis

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