When it comes to the health of our gut, balance is key. Years of processed foods, stress and a few (hundred) late nights will eventually wreak havoc on our precious gut biome. This little ecosystem is a place where the right balance of bacteria results in looking and feeling fantastic. But if bloating, weight gain and that foggy feeling are drowning out your ability to listen to your ‘gut instinct’, it’s time to get serious about your gut health.
One Small Area With Big Impact
Poor gut health has been linked to a wide range of symptoms. Both our physical health and our mood can take a nosedive when things are out of balance. Sometimes called our ‘second brain’, poor gut health has been linked to anxiety, depression, weight gain, bloating, foggy head – and a long term imbalance can seriously threaten our quality of life.
How it Happens
In terms of the gut, permeability is the main factor. A healthy gut has a protective mucosal lining which is impermeable, or sealed. Food particles are broken down here and pass quickly through to the intestinal tract where our body makes good use of it. If our gut lining has been damaged through bacterial imbalance (think extended antibiotic use), stress, lack of restorative sleep or one too many of those all inclusive resorts (blame it on the buffet!) – we can develop a ‘leaky gut’, which is a not so fancy way of describing a situation where the lining of our gut has been damaged and is now permeable.
With a leaky gut, food particles, bacteria and pathogens are suddenly able to pass through the previously sealed gut lining and enter our bloodstream. When these undigested particles hit our system, it results in an immune response called inflammation, which is the root cause of a whole host of issues.
Heal and Seal
The ultimate goal of improving gut health is to heal and seal the gut. By healing the gut lining, impermeability is restored, food is digested the way it’s meant to be and the lining is sealed. The body is no longer working overtime to curb the inflammation and your immune system gets a well-deserved break. Everything finally calms down and you begin to notice this balance in the way you look and feel.
What does this have to do with collagen?
Collagen is an essential component for healing and sealing the gut. Collagen is now recognized as one of the key supplements for gut health. Besides providing the building blocks for new collagen in the body, the amino acids delivered by hydrolyzed collagen support gut health. For example, glutamate and arginine, and possibly methionine, cysteine and threonine optimize the immune functions of the intestine. They also help to maintain the integrity, growth and function of the intestine. The amino acids methionine, threonine, arginine, serine and proline all support intestinal mucosal healing. And let’s not forget glycine, which has been shown to reduce inflammation8.
As our collagen levels wane, so does our gut health
Like so many good things, our body’s natural collagen production peaks in our early twenties and slowly declines as we age, by about 1.5% per year1, to be exact.
We can curb this natural decline by consuming hydrolyzed collagen. Short chains of amino acids, called peptides, along with free amino acids, are the building blocks needed to make new collagen. By supplementing with these daily, you are effectively restoring collagen levels in your body, which is good news for gut health.
What exactly is collagen?
Collagen is a protein made up of long chains of linked amino acids. It’s actually the most abundant source of protein in our entire body. You can think of collagen as a foundational building block, providing strength and structure for our connective tissues. Which means it’s essential for a healthy gut. In fact, marine based collagen has been shown to be the most effective for gut health7.
The Key Types – 1, 2 and 3
There are 28 types of collagen. Of these, it’s types 1, 2, and 3 that account for 80-90% of all collagen proteins in the body. These three types play a significant structural role and are essential for maintaining the strength and elasticity of tissues. It’s mainly type 3 that contributes to the integrity of the gut lining.