Have you noticed a subtle theme to our recent blog posts?
In preparation for the adventurous eats of the holiday season, we’ve been knee-deep in tummy trouble topics. Chewing on everything from digestive enzyme myths to probiotic strain research, the Woodstock Vitamins blog has been a veritable smorgasbord of gut health information.
But we’re going a little off-menu today because, well, we have to eat crow.
After publishing our recent review of Dr. Neal’s top three digestive support supplements, we realized there was one more nutrient that should have made the cut.
This supplement has become the apple of the wellness industry’s eye, being touted for its data-backed benefits on hair, skin, and nails. And yet, the most remarkable of its effects gets about as much love as the green bean casserole at Christmastime.
So if you’re hungry for insider info on why collagen supplements are the best thing for gut health since sliced bread, read on! Dr. Neal has spilled the beans — sharing his expert knowledge on how collagen peptides can support digestive health, repair intestinal damage, soothe gut inflammation, and more down below.
In This Article:
What is Collagen?
You probably already know that protein is one of the core building blocks of your body, but were you aware roughly 1/3rd of that protein is collagen?
Collagen protein molecules are made up of essential amino acids, or organic compounds that humans need to function properly. While our bodies naturally use the fibrous structure of collagen to build connective tissue in cartilage, bones, and skin, we can’t actually create all the amino acids we need to thrive.
That, plus, we produce less and less collagen as our flesh sacks start to age, hence the sagging skin and sore joints. As a result, we have to eat a healthy diet, rich in collagen and amino acids — no ifs, ands, or buts.
Foods like organ meats, skin-on chicken, bone broth, and some fish are excellent sources of collagen, but (okay there’s one but), most of us aren’t getting enough of these nutrient-dense foods in our everyday diets.
Can Collagen Supplements Help Gut Health?
It makes sense, then, that collagen supplements have become wildly popular amongst wellness fanatics and fitness buffs alike.
Collagen peptides powders are typically sourced from the connective tissue of meat sources and are revered for their positive effects on skin, hair, and nails. But (oops, there’s another one) one of the amino acids in collagen — glycine — is also a major component of the gut lining.
In fact, a huge portion of your gut lining is made from collagen.
So the next time you spot an airbrushed influencer holding a jug of perfectly branded peptides, remember to look beneath the surface to see the protein for what it really is: A scientifically verified and holistic, or whole-body, supplement that goes beyond the skin to affect multiple bodily systems, including the gut.
After all, it’s one of Dr. Neal’s Vital5 nutrients for a reason!
5 Ways Collagen Can Boost Gut Health
Whether you’re upping your sardine intake or taking an ethically sourced collagen supplement, you can expect to experience a number of gut health benefits alongside your radiant skin and shiny hair.
Just make sure you’re getting enough collagen consistently and for long enough to allow your body to begin these 5 repair and rebuild processes.
1. Intestinal Barrier Strengthening
If you ask us, one of the most exciting advantages of this unique protein is its ability to strengthen your intestinal barriers. In Layman’s terms, we’re talking leaky gut.
Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, is a phrase used to refer to the process of degradation that can occur in the walls that line your internal organs. These barriers are typically only one cell thick, and things like stress, inflammatory foods, caffeine, and alcohol can bust through those walls like the Kool-Aid man no problem.
When food particles and toxins leak from these ruptures or holes in the gut, they enter the bloodstream and tissues to wreak havoc.
Thankfully the amino acids in collagen, like the poor set designer on those Kool-Aid commercials, can help rebuild and fortify the lining of our gastrointestinal tract. One of the key amino acids in collagen, glutamine, is especially crucial to maintaining the impermeability of intestinal cells according to recent research.
2. Amino Acids Soothe Gut Inflammation
Glutamine isn’t alone in its ability to help heal the gut, either. Glycine, the other, previously mentioned micronutrient in collagen, also exerts anti-inflammatory effects despite not being an essential amino acid.
Plus, its amenable amino amigo, lysine, can contribute to the reduction of gut inflammation and is being studied as a treatment option for people with Crohn’s Disease and IBS. And if that wasn’t enough for you, the threonine amino acid found in collagen also combats inflammation. Who would have thought?
Recent studies have found that an inflamed gut may actually increase the amount of threonine required for regular GI functions, too. So for folks suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases or inflammation-related symptoms like loose bowel movements, amino acids are shaping up to be a viable option for relief.
3. Enhances Nutrient Absorption
One of the lesser-known side effects of lowered gut inflammation and strengthened intestinal barriers is enhanced nutrient absorption.
Which might not seem as cool and sexy as inflammation reduction, but it’s still pretty important. Especially if you’re buying your own groceries in 2024 — no one wants a bite to go to waste.
Working to repair our leaky guts, then, is critical if we want the good stuff from our food to actually be absorbed by our bodies. Otherwise, they escape through the damaged gut lining and our $400 Whole Foods trip goes right down the drain.
By patching in the holes found in the intestinal barrier, feeding gut flora, and increasing impermeability, the amino acids found in collagen can, basically, help you get the most bang for your buck.
4. Supports a Healthy Gut Microbiome
Did we really say that this protein powder can feed the microorganisms living in the canals and caverns of your digestive tract? Yes, we did, because it can.
Intestinal microbes and amino acid proteins have a tight relationship. The latter provides nutrition for the former, and as a result, we have fueled up gut bacteria and general digestive homeostasis.
But an imbalance in amino acid intake can lead to an imbalance in the gut flora, which is often a root cause of GI diseases like IBD and IBS. And, at the same time, it can decrease nutrient absorption, as the microorganisms help facilitate the process of assimilation in the gut.
Upping your amino acid intake through collagen-rich foods and sustainably sourced supplements can support the mutual relationship between the creatures of your GI microbiome and these proteins. So well, in fact, that recent studies have shown collagen to have an anti-obesity effect on the gut microbiome, too.
5. Improves Digestion
So let’s recap! Collagen can not only help repair and prevent leaky gut, but also reduce intestinal inflammation, boost nutrient absorption, and protect the health of your gut microbiome.
Is it any wonder that increasing your collagen intake can improve your overall digestion, then?
As this protein moves through the rivers and valleys of your gastrointestinal tract, it works to break down other proteins and carbs, on top of the previously mentioned beneficial functions. That’s why collagen is a truly holistic, or whole-being, tool: By targeting the root cause of gut discomfort like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, it acts as more than just a band-aid for the symptoms.
And yet, it’s still great for symptom relief, too. So don’t walk to your nearest collagen dealer — run.
Collagen for Gut Health — Made Simple
Actually, wait! Before you speed on over to Natural Grocers to grab the biggest jug of collagen peptides you can find, make sure you know what quality markers to look for. Not all collagen supplements are ethically sourced, sustainably made, and rigorously tested for heavy metals.
Ours is, of course, but that’s beside the point.
Want to learn more? Click around to explore our growing collection of collagen-related wellness topics or hop on a free Counterside Consult to have all your peptide inquiries answered by one of our supplement experts. No weird bird gifs included.