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Can collagen help benefit your gut health?

Can collagen help gut health? (Getty Images)
Can collagen help gut health? (Getty Images)

Collagen is one of the buzz words du jour when it comes to ageing, thanks to its ability to support our skin, bones, and muscles as we get older.

But did you realise there are some other potential benefits of the naturally occurring protein, including having some perceived plus points for our gut health.

What is collagen?

Collagen is a protein that occurs naturally in all animals and humans. It’s the body’s most abundant form of protein, contributing to around a third of the body’s total supply.

"Collagen is the main structural protein in your body and is responsible for your skin’s strength and elasticity," explains Pupinder S. Ghatora, pharmacist and co-founder of INGENIOUS.

"When collagen production starts to decrease as we age, we start to lose elasticity in the skin, which means that we experience sagging of the skin and the formation of lines as it loses its firmness."

Ghatora says our natural supply of collagen starts to deplete at a rate of 1.5% every year, falling by as much as 30% by the time we reach the age of 45.

As we need adequate collagen for strong bones, joints and skin, adding more collagen into your diet, typically via supplements is something many are considering.

However, collagen isn’t just the key to firmer looking and feeling skin and strong bones and joints, it also has a vast number of other important uses throughout the body including in the gut.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

How can collagen help gut health?

According to Ghatora collagen is an important component of the gut lining. "This acts as a barrier to protect the gut from harmful substances and maintain its integrity," he explains.

Studies have suggested that collagen peptides may help improve gut health by promoting the production of certain proteins, such as tight junction proteins, which are involved in maintaining the integrity of the gut lining.

"This can help strengthen the gut barrier and reduce the permeability of the gut, potentially reducing the risk of leaky gut syndrome, where the gut lining becomes more permeable and allows harmful substances to enter the bloodstream," Ghatora continues.

Collagen peptides have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce gut inflammation and alleviate symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

"Some studies have shown that collagen peptides can modulate the immune response in the gut and reduce inflammation, which may also contribute to improved gut health," Ghatora adds.

The problem is, not all methods of increasing your collagen intake are created equal in terms of their ability to aid the gut.

"There are loads of collagen powders, bone broths and tablets on the market all promising to boost your collagen levels, but unless the collagen is protected from harsh stomach acids, a lot of it will degrade before reaching your gut," Ghatera explains.

"The small intestine is where 99% of nutrient absorption occurs, so for an effective dose we need to make sure it actually gets to where it needs to get to," he continues.

"This is why with INGENIOUS we created capsules that are proven to survive the stomach and reach the small intestine, that boost absorption and allow them to be genuinely effective at increasing collagen production."

Sounds too good to be true? Well, there is one caveat in that collagen won't do your gut any favours if you're not already eating a healthy, balanced diet.

There is some evidence to suggest collagen could support gut health. (Getty Images)
There is some evidence to suggest collagen could support gut health. (Getty Images)

Other potential benefits of collagen

We often hear about the benefits of collagen for skin, hair and nail health, but collagen also provides the foundation of our bones, joints, tendons and muscles.

"As we age, our bodies become less efficient at producing collagen which can lead to a slower recovery time," Ghatora explains.

If you’re feeling sore and stiff after your workouts, he says this could be down to depleting collagen levels, which over time can cause inflammation and muscle damage.

"Collagen can support muscle recovery by helping to build and repair the muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage that are stressed during exercise," he continues. "This is why it’s great to supplement with if you’re looking to recover faster after your workout and up your fitness game.

"Whether you’re a gym-goer, yogi, athlete or you’re simply always on-the-go, supplementing with protected collagen is an ideal way to boost your strength and fitness," he adds.

Gut health: Read more

Watch: Five reasons why you should prioritise gut health