The ultimate guide to collagen and gut health

Did you know that collagen can help improve your gut health? Yes, collagen is not only for skin’s elasticity and joint pain management, as its widely-known benefits but also for nourishing your gut and preventing digestive issues.

It is true that you can have firmer, smoother, and more youthful skin with collagen. At the same time, collagen, as a protein in your body, is vital in numerous aspects affecting your overall health, especially your gut health. 

What happens to your body when you take collagen?

Understanding collagen first can give you an idea about how it works in your body. Collagen is the most abundant protein found in your body.

In fact, collagen is about 30 percent of proteins in your body. As a protein, collagen comprises amino acids such as arginine, glycine, hydroxyproline, and proline.

Collagen has a fiber-like structure that makes your connective tissues healthy, strong, and resilient.

And, of course, it aids connective tissues in their firmness, suppleness, and continuous renewal of skin cells, leaving your skin looking younger. 

Naturally, collagen can be found in mammals’ flesh and connective tissues. As years go by, many kinds of research and studies prove that collagen is an excellent help for the body to become healthy, especially in the skin.

It first appeared as a primary ingredient in skin creams and serums [1] and was eventually used in nourishing joints. Think of collagen as a “glue” that binds your body together. 

How does collagen work in your body?
Photograph: YuliaLisitsa/Shutterstock

How does collagen improve gut health?

Collagen must be present enough to function in your gut at its optimal level.  Many factors apparently contribute to your gut health, and one of them is collagen. Some of the major benefits of collagen are as follows:

1. Aids in digestion and nutrient absorption

When you consume collagen, in whatever form, it goes to your digestive system, surrounded by water and stomach acid.

Collagen is considered a hydrophilic molecule, attracting water molecules and acidic molecules.

As it moves through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, collagen assists with breaking down proteins and carbohydrates. Therefore, collagen helps smoothly move your food into your GI tract.  

Significantly, easy-to-absorb collagen supplements can help digest nutrients for your body as well. Collagen aids in nutrient absorption and prevents you from being bloated. 

2. Helps collagen synthesis 

The process of collagen synthesis takes place intracellularly and extracellularly in fibroblast cells–these cells are specialized to primarily function in synthesizing collagen and stroma.

Over time, as you age, your capacity to produce natural collagen is reduced; however, your body must maintain enough amino acids to build, store, and synthesize collagen. Hence, taking foods rich in collagen or collagen supplements can aid collagen synthesis. 

3. Repairs gut lining 

Two major benefits of collagen to your gut health are supporting your gut wall integrity and repairing your gut lining.

To fulfill these two significant functions (ensuring strong gut wall integrity and improving gut lining) in your gut health, your body needs collagen synthesis.

New muscle cells should be made whenever there is damage in your gut. When this happens, your collagen production is in action to help generate new muscle cells to heal and repair the damages. 

In general, collagen is vital in rebuilding and strengthening your digestive lining with its amino acids, particularly glycine and glutamine.

Studies show collagen peptides can ameliorate gut barrier dysfunction and enhance tight junctions. 

Consuming a collagen supplement or foods rich in collagen that is easy to digest can give your body enough amino acids.

One of the amino acids from collagen is glycine, which can produce the antioxidant glutathione; this antioxidant helps your body protect cells.

The acquired amino acids from collagen may then be distributed to your gut areas that need repair. It can start the healing and repairing process to damage parts of your intestinal lining, causing GI distress [2].

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4. Heals leaky gut syndrome and ​​irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

The leaky gut syndrome is a digestive problem where your small intestine’s lining is damaged. A

s a result, your consumed and undigested food particles, waste products, and even bacteria leak through your intestines into the bloodstream.

Some of the evident symptoms of leaky gut syndrome are chronic diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nutritional deficiencies, fatigue, headaches, confusion, difficulty concentrating, acne, eczema, joint pain, and widespread inflammation

On the other hand, irritable bowel syndrome or IBS refers to a chronic digestive problem where you may feel constant stomach cramps, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

Generally, IBS is often a lifelong condition; however, its symptoms may change over the years. It can also be managed with the right practices and medications. 

As collagen contains healthy amino acids, it can significantly help heal and improve your leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These are two major gut problems that collagen can help you deal with. 

Moreover, researchers found out that those with lower collagen levels in their bodies have high tendencies to experience digestive imbalances.

People who struggle with inflammatory bowel diseases have less collagen in their intestinal lining. In addition, collagen is composed of two essential amino acids that can heal and repair your gut lining so that your leaky gut and IBS can be treated.

These are glutamine and glycine, which is 30 percent of collagen. Therefore, collagen can help restore the lining of your stomach and intestines and further improve your absorption of nutrients [3].

5. Boosts amino acids needed for a healthy gut 

Collagen is made up of many amino acids, not only the ones stated above. It also has arginine, cysteine, and threonine, which can boost your intestinal tract’s immune functions.

And, of course, glutamine can also reduce inflammation. Furthermore, some other amino acid compositions of collagen are serine, proline, and methionine; together with arginine and threonine, they can all support intestinal mucosal healing.

In total, 19 amino acids can be found in collagen, and each has its specific functions aside from helping produce new collagen molecules. Take collagen supplements and eat collagen-rich foods that boost your healthy gut function. 

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Which type of collagen is best for gut health?

Now that you know the benefits of collagen in improving your gut health, choosing the right type of collagen is a must.

Some people can be susceptible to collagen when they take it, and some do not have the same effects on them. Hence, selecting collagen can be tricky. 

You better start taking collagen supplements with their recommended dose and observe whether it works.

Note that not all collagen supplements are created equal and have the same ingredients. So, better check its nutritional content first to know whether it suits your gut health. 

The primary factor to check is its absorption rate. Collagen supplements with a very low absorption rate are not good for your gut health. Take those collagen supplements that are easy to digest and absorb by your body. 

Another way to choose is through its form; collagen in its whole form is a no-no. The individual collagen molecules are way too big when the collagen is in its whole form; hence, it can be challenging for your body to digest.

Look for absorbable and bioavailable to the human body, which is generally hydrolyzed or nano-hydrolyzed collagen [4]. 

What foods heal your gut?

Eating certain foods and taking collagen supplements can significantly help you to have a healthy gut.

You may include amino acid-rich foods in your daily diet to reduce the risk of gut inflammation and keep your gut health on track. 

Furthermore, there are foods that you need to avoid as they may trigger leaky gut, such as:

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Junk food
  • Dairy products
  • Gluten-containing grains
  • Processed meats
  • Refined oils
  • Wheat-based products

Your diet is apparently the key to a healthier gut. When you consume highly processed and sugar-filled foods, you are basically breaking down your body’s collagen. Not to mention, these can also lead to excess body fats, obesity, and cholesterol. 

To improve your collagen levels, you may insert vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats into your meals daily.

The benefits of a good diet plan are enhanced mental health, glowing skin, increased collagen production, and better digestive functions. 

How do you keep your gut healthy?

How do you keep your gut healthy?

A healthy gut is crucial for overall well-being, and you can adopt several lifestyle choices and dietary habits to support your gut health. Here are some valuable tips:

  1. Consume various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to promote a diverse gut microbiome.
  2. Incorporate fiber-rich foods like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains to nourish beneficial gut bacteria and promote regular bowel movements.
  3. Include probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha to introduce beneficial bacteria into your gut.
  4. Consume prebiotic foods such as garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and bananas to nourish the existing probiotics in your gut.
  5. Reduce your intake of sugary snacks and highly processed foods, as they can disrupt gut-bacteria balance.
  6. Drink plenty of water to support digestion and maintain the mucosal lining of your intestines.
  7. Chronic stress can negatively impact gut health. Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
  8. Regular physical activity promotes healthy digestion and circulation in the gut.
  9. Excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption can irritate the gut lining. Consume them in moderation.
  10. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to support overall health, including your gut.

Remember that everyone’s gut is unique, and what works best for one person may not work the same way for another. 

Final takeaways

Prioritizing gut health through dietary choices, lifestyle adjustments, and the potential inclusion of collagen can have a profound impact on overall well-being.

While collagen may offer support, individual responses may vary. Consult with a healthcare professional to tailor a gut health regimen that suits your unique needs, ensuring a healthier and happier you.

FAQs

Does collagen really help gut health?

Collagen can potentially support gut health by helping to strengthen the gut lining, but its effectiveness may vary from person to person.

Which type of collagen is best for gut health?

Type I collagen is often recommended for gut health, as it is a primary component of the gut lining.

How long does it take collagen to heal gut?

Collagen’s healing time for the gut can vary depending on individual factors, but noticeable improvements may take several weeks to months.

How much collagen should I take daily for gut health?

There is no universally recommended daily collagen dosage for gut health, but a common starting point is around 5-10 grams per day. It’s best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

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[1] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23089-collagen 
[2] https://protgold.com/blogs/news/why-collagen-is-good-for-gut-health
[3] https://kalumibeauty.com/blogs/in-the-glow/will-collagen-resolve-stomach-issues-and-help-gut-health 
[4] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen-benefits 

Photograph: Fascinadora/Shutterstock
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.