Is Collagen The Solution to Leaky Gut?
Collagen has become a popular supplement in recent years, and is one of my favorite supplements to use daily both for myself and for my clients who are dealing with gut issues.
But does it really work and should you be taking it if you have gut issues?
The short answer is yes, with a few contraindications that I’ll share with you in a little bit. But first, let’s talk about what leaky gut is and what collagen actually does in your body.
What is Leaky Gut?
By now, almost everyone has heard of leaky gut. And if you experience digestive or health issues, it’s quite possible that a leaky gut could be the culprit.
Leaky gut happens when the gaps between the cells in the intestinal walls (aka your gut) become excessively open, or loose, due to inflammation. This allows random particles to pass out into your bloodstream where they’re not supposed to be instead of them being strategically filtered like they would be in a healthy gut.
If you think about it like a screen door, it does its job of letting air flow through, but if there’s holes in it you’ll end up with flies in the house!
The result can be bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivities, aches and pains, autoimmune disease flare-ups, skin issues and more.
It’s also been shown in studies that leaky gut is a potential precursor leading up to chronic disease. That means a leaky gut could be the first sign that you’re headed toward autoimmune disease, eczema, Crohn’s, and more.
Because leaky gut can wreak havoc on your entire body system, we want to tighten up those intestinal cell gaps so they can act like the filters they are supposed to be and support the gut with healing foods and supplements. This will not only help resolve any digestive issues you experience, but support your health overall.
In addition to eating gut healing foods (grab my 101 Gut Healing Foods list here), you may want to consider taking collagen for gut health.
What is Collagen?
Collagen comes from either mammals like cows, chicken, and fish. It’s also found in our connective tissues as human mammals. It’s a protein, which means it’s made up of amino acids, and these amino acids help heal your leaky gut.
Collagen reduces intestinal inflammation and provides concentrated nutrient building blocks for healthy intestinal tissue. Glutamine, glycine, and proline are some of the key amino acids found in collagen that help heal and seal the intestinal wall so nothing can “leak” anywhere that it’s not supposed to be, which is exactly what you need when you have leaky gut.
While you can get collagen and these amino acids from food sources, supplemental collagen is widely available. In supplement form collagen is just gelatin that’s been processed to make the amino acids easier for your body to absorb (which is another reason it’s great for gut healing, because you can absorb more of the amino acids that we just talked about).
How to Use Collagen for Leaky Gut
You may have heard of different kinds of collagen like collagen peptides and hydrolyzed collagen. Well, they’re actually the same thing!
The best kind of collagen supplement for you to use is grass-fed single source, because it ensures quality control. Some lower-quality collagen brands can actually cause bloating and gut irritation, which is the opposite of what you need, so quality definitely matters here.
It doesn’t matter if it’s powder or capsules, though. That’s your choice!
The great thing about collagen powder is that you can hide in just about anything. It’s pretty much flavorless and you can quickly dissolve it into your hot tea or coffee, blend it into your smoothies, add it to your soup, or mix it into sauces. You can even hide it in baked goods! Pretty much anything liquid or baked can be a carrier for your collagen supplement.
I use and recommend Vital Proteins. You can try it out here.
Some important things to note:
If your calcium levels are already high, collagen may make you constipated or nauseous. And if you are sensitive to oxalates or high-histamine foods, collagen may not be right for you.
You also need to use collagen daily for a minimum 2-3 months to see real results. Studies show about 2.5-15 grams of collagen daily to be an effective dose but you may want to aim for 10-15 grams daily for therapeutic purposes like healing leaky gut.
You can even replace up to 36% of your daily protein consumption with collagen protein and still maintain a healthy amino acid balance. So based on this math, for an average 2000 calories diet containing 30% protein that’s about 54 grams of collagen daily that would be safe to consume daily.
Collagen is not going to be a magic wand on its own, but it is an EXCELLENT source of gut healing nutrients that can be used as part of a gut healing plan.
Download my free 101 Gut Healing Foods list to make sure you’re also eating the right foods to heal your leaky gut. With this list of 101 foods, you’ll know exactly what to focus on and what to avoid without giving up the foods you love!