When people think of collagen, most people think of hair and nail health and a key factor in smooth, firm, plump and youthful skin. However, the benefits of collagen in terms of hair, skin, and nails are just a few of the countless advantages of adding collagen to your daily routine. Collagen is also a protein that plays a critical role in a number of other aspects of our health—including our gut.
WHY IS GUT HEALTH IMPORTANT?
To understand the true importance of gut health in our overall wellness, it's essential to know that the oesophagus, stomach, and intestines create a symphony that allows us to digest the foods we eat smoothly. The gut breaks down the food we eat into a simple form so it can quickly enter our bloodstream and deliver these nutrients throughout our bodies. This process is only successful when we have a properly balanced digestive system, when this balance is thrown off, we experience digestive problems like bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, etc.
A healthy gut contains good bacteria that ward off infectious bacteria and viruses that can make us sick. A healthy gut also influences our hormones – an integral part of our health and wellbeing. Collagen plays a crucial part in gut health because it contains the amino acids glycine, glutamine, and proline, which can be incredibly beneficial to the stomach and digestive tract. These amino acids help rebuild tissue that lines the digestive tract, keeping the food we eat and bacteria inside the gut where it belongs instead of allowing these particles to leak and cause inflammation in our bodies (commonly referred to as "leaky gut"). Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, but we produce less of it as we age. Therefore, taking a collagen supplement can potentially help boost our natural collagen production and promote the healing of our gut(1).
If we then also consider how integral our gut is in determining the state of our immune health, metabolism, brain health, skin and overall wellbeing—maintaining a healthy gut is therefore of the utmost importance. When we neglect this vital system, we leave it vulnerable to pathogens, infection, inflammation. Also known as intestinal permeability, leaky gut is a condition whereby the integrity of the intestinal wall has been compromised and as a result, an immune response has been triggered. When the typically tight junctions of the gut wall become loosened or ‘leaky’, endotoxins that would ordinarily be processed and eliminated are able to escape and be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. It’s this process that triggers our immune system—and subsequently, inflammation. While there are many factors that can obviously contribute to and also help to heal leaky gut, incorporating more collagen and collagen-rich foods into our diet is one way to ensure our digestive system continues to function at an optimal level.
Collagen Soothes, Repairs And Strengthens The Gut Lining
Collagen plays an integral role in rebuilding and strengthening the lining of our digestive tract as it contains the amino acids—particularly glycine and glutamine—that are essential for its repair. In fact, research has shown that collagen peptides can actually ameliorate gut barrier dysfunction and improve its tight junctions(2). A 2020 animal study has also found an interesting correlation between a diet rich in collagen peptides and an altered microbiota with increased short-chain fatty acid production (3). Given that SCFAs harbour powerful anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory benefits, this is an exciting new area of research.
Furthermore, as gut inflammation is linked to inflammation elsewhere in the body, it’s undoubtedly beneficial to include an abundance of amino acid-rich foods—such as collagen—in our diet on a regular basis to help reduce gut inflammation and keep conditions such as leaky gut at bay.
It Aids Digestion And Nutrient Absorption
When we experience digestive issues such as leaky gut, we are also likely to suffer from impaired nutrient absorption as nutrients that would otherwise be properly digested and absorbed in a healthy gut, are able to escape through the intestinal lining. As collagen helps to support gut wall integrity however, we can help to mitigate this loss of nutrients due to impaired gut function by upping our collagen intake.
It Aids Collagen Synthesis
While our bodies naturally produce collagen—as we age, our ability to do so declines and so we must ensure we consume enough of the amino acids required to build, store and synthesise collagen. Noshing on protein-rich foods regularly—such as animal proteins, eggs and dairy—will ensure that we receive these critical amino acids that are required to support collagen synthesis, however a collagen supplement is another simple way to amp up your amino acid intake and boost your collagen levels.
WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT FOR A HEALTHY GUT?
As we mentioned, taking a collagen supplement can help support digestive health. But, your diet is a vital part of your gut health too. Many foods assist in healing the digestive system, but many foods on the market today exacerbate any gut issues we may be experiencing. For example, highly processed, high sugar foods break down the collagen in our bodies and contribute to excess body fat, high cholesterol, and other issues.
It is best to eat a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins to improve your gut health. Cutting out processed foods will also be beneficial to our digestive health.
One of the best things you can consume is collagen, as it can heal the intestinal wall and improve the function of the digestive tract. Q Sciences collagen is a premium, medical grade source that helps diminish the effects of ageing and improves gut health