How much do you know about your gut? You’ve likely heard of the benefits of probiotics and gut health, but what about using collagen for gut health?
While it is easy to think that the gut is isolated to digesting and processing your food, did you know that your gut health directly impacts your mood, appetite, immune system, and even your energy levels?
There’s a lot happening in your body and a lot of it is interconnected. That’s why if you are experiencing gut problems of any kind, it is important to understand the inner workings of the body along with natural ways you can address your health.
For many of us, we are not getting the nutrients our body needs to regulate our gastrointestinal health properly. Some of these vital nutrients include probiotics, antioxidants, prebiotics, and fiber. But there is also a lesser talked about nutrient that may also benefit us: collagen.
Taking collagen for gut health along with other supplements like probiotics and prebiotics can dramatically improve several aspects of your life because your gut can regulate healthy bacteria and digestion.
Knowing how and when to take these supplements or if you can find these nutrients in food can take time and should be done under the supervision of a medical professional.
To help you get started with your research on this topic, we’ve put together a guide to how to take probiotics, prebiotics, and collagen for gut health.
What are probiotics and prebiotics?
Probiotics and prebiotics play an important role in your gut’s microbiome. We often hear more about probiotics and gut health, but both probiotics and prebiotics are often used in microbiome therapy to address specific gastrointestinal issues.
What’s the difference between the two?
Probiotics are bacteria living naturally in your body that help break down food within your intestines. There are two families of bacteria commonly discussed regarding probiotic bacteria which are strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Prebiotics are not bacteria at all, but are food for your existing bacterial flora. In order for your good bacteria to flourish and do the best job, it’s important for them to have enough carbohydrates to feed on – and prebiotics offer just that.
Probiotics and prebiotics work together to help your gut digest foods and keep things on track.
The reason you’ve likely heard more about probiotics when discussing gut bacteria and health though is because you do not need to take prebiotics for your probiotics to work effectively, and most of us need more probiotics than prebiotics because of our diet.
We have access to many natural sources of probiotics to feed our body the nutrients it needs to regulate.
For example, you can get probiotics from foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, kimchi, tempeh, and pickles. Most foods that contain probiotics are fermented, and the fermentation process creates the probiotic bacteria.
You can also get probiotics in the form of a supplement, which usually needs to be kept in a temperature-controlled setting like a refrigerator to ensure the bacteria can stay alive and healthy.
Prebiotics can also be accumulated with food, but the main distinction between pre and probiotics is that prebiotics are not a bacteria. Prebiotics are needed so your body can grow more bacteria, so you can look at them as fuel for the probiotics.
There are different types of prebiotic sources but they all contain a type of dietary fiber and are the carbohydrates that are used to fuel probiotics. Some examples of food source prebiotics include bananas, artichokes, asparagus, and garlic.
Like probiotics, you can also get prebiotics in the form of a supplement.
Some foods are even considered synbiotic which means that they contain both pre and probiotics. Two common examples of synbiotic foods are kefir and greek yoghurt.
While probiotics and prebiotics are often hailed as the go-to supplements for gut health, collagen also has become a more well-known supplement for gastrointestinal issues.
Collagen is already a widely used supplement to help with wound healing, and for many of the same reasons, collagen can be used to improve gut health.
Should you take collagen for gut health?
The main condition that collagen is associated with in the medical field when it comes to gut health is leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky gut syndrome is when your intestinal lining has an increased permeability and tight junctions. Think of the tight junctions in your gut as the pores within your stomach lining that allow nutrients to either get through, or to prevent toxins from escaping. When they become too big or weakened, they allow toxins to pass through into your bloodstream that should otherwise be moved past digestion and treated as waste.
In a healthy gut, your intestinal lining is what determines what can and cannot enter your bloodstream during digestion – keeping harmful bacteria and substances out.
When you have a leaky gut, it is associated with other conditions like autoimmune disorders and food sensitivities.
While there are several other types of gastrointestinal disorders, leaky gut syndrome is relatively common and it is the most likely to be associated with the need for additional collagen for gut health in your diet.
Taking collagen for leaky gut may seem like a strange supplement to gravitate towards, but since a leaky gut stems from thinning, permeable intestinal lining, your body can use collagen to help repair and restructure the area.
We create collagen naturally in our bodies, but as we age, our natural collagen production decreases. This is why we begin to experience joint aches and skin issues as early as our mid twenties.
We can help boost our collagen production with antioxidants and other nutrients in foods, but when we are already dealing with an injury to the body or other structural loss like with leaky gut, then we need more collagen than we can likely produce ourselves.
Collagen has been shown to improve our natural ability to recover from surgery, injury, and leaky gut. When taking a high-quality collagen supplement that is easy to digest, like ProT Gold, we are providing our body with the building blocks it needs to repair connective tissues.
Our intestinal lining is one of the tissues that collagen would target in this scenario.
When we have a low collagen production, our body directs the little collagen we do have to vital areas of the body. In most cases that will be vital organs like our heart, blood vessels, brain, etc.
The intestinal lining may also be receiving some collagen, but since so much of our body needs collagen, things can get spread pretty thin.
Using collagen for gut health allows more collagen to be allotted to areas like your intestines and stomach along with other parts of your body. While collagen can do a lot for your body, like help reduce inflammation, the main draw to collagen for gut health is the amino acid content.
Collagen, like other proteins, is made up of a complex set of amino acid connections. A few of the predominant amino acids in collagen include Glycine and Proline. These two amino acids in particular are known for their ability to help fortify and heal connective tissues in the body.
Since having a leaky gut essentially entails that there is some kind of damage to the tissue of the intestinal lining, the amino acids in collagen boost your ability to repair.
Collagen may also help the body create new smooth muscle cells that help prevent those toxins and other particles from leaking out into your bloodstream.
How and when to take probiotics, prebiotics, and collagen for gut health
There are numerous reasons why you may experience gastrointestinal health issues, and not everyone necessarily needs to take collagen for gut health or even probiotics and prebiotics.
However, because of our modern diet and lifestyle, more and more of us are experiencing chronic stomach problems that can often be prevented and treated through proper nutrition.
Probiotics are a common supplement, with almost 4 million adults in the US using them for health on a regular basis. The reasons why people choose to integrate probiotics into their lives varies from needing to treat irritable bowel syndrome to taking them for vaginal health.
One of the most common questions when it comes to probiotics and prebiotics for gut health is if you can take them together or if that is even beneficial. When you take either of those two supplements doesn’t necessarily matter and you can take them together.
As mentioned before, it isn’t always necessary to take prebiotics if you are taking probiotics, but it can help with the effectiveness of the probiotics.
If you are already eating plenty of foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics naturally, then the use of additional supplements may not be required. Diet plays a huge role in gut health, so if your diet already contains a dense array of these nutrients, supplements may be overkill.
There are also some consumers that worry about taking supplements because the FDA doesn’t regulate them in the same way they do pharmaceutical drugs. Because of that, many consumers feel safer consuming pro and prebiotics naturally through their food.
Anytime you begin to change your gut biome with a new synbiotic regimen, it is likely you will experience some side effects. Common side effects when beginning to take more probiotics may include:
- Gas and bloating
- Loose stools
- Loss of appetite
- Acid reflux
It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to probiotics, so pay attention to if you get hives or start to have extreme stomach pain. This is particularly a concern if consuming probiotics in a concentrated supplement form versus from a food.
Contact your doctor if you experience a severe allergic reaction.
Taking collagen for gut health is often a more targeted or preventative approach than it is for probiotics.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t worry about our stomach health until we start to have issues. So, a lot of the time, taking collagen for gut health will be a recommendation by a doctor to treat something like leaky gut syndrome.
Collagen is good for more than just gut health though, and there are several types of collagen that target certain areas of your body.
Collagen and gut health is an interesting topic because some supplement users may have actually experienced more gastrointestinal distress after taking certain collagen supplements.
Anytime you are taking a supplement, you should consult a doctor, especially if you intend to use it to treat some preexisting conditions. Not all collagen supplements are created equal, and they all tend to have varying absorption rates.
When using collagen for gut health, the absorption rate is extremely important to the experience. The reason being is that if you are consuming collagen and it is hard for your body to digest, then it can cause more problems than it helps with.
You also want to make sure your body can process the supplement and get all the benefits from it.
To ensure you are getting the most out of collagen for gut health, look for an easy to absorb collagen protein supplement, like ProT Gold.
It is easy to identify easy to absorb collagen supplements. Just look for the works “hydrolyzed” or “nano-hydrolyzed.” These varieties have been through a process to break down the collagen molecules into smaller, more digestible pieces.