Those that struggle with leaky gut syndrome know all too well the impacts it can have on everyday life. Leaky gut is a complicated health ailment, and honestly, for a long time, there wasn’t much scientific or medical consensus on what it is or how to cure it.
Luckily, in recent years, there has been more of a focus on gut health concerning our diet and immunity.
This is excellent news for folks with leaky gut - or any gut health issues - since they are often directly linked to the way we digest the food we eat.
So, what is it that we should be eating?
Are there supplements that could help ease leaky gut symptoms?
It may surprise you to know that collagen could be one of the supplements that helps ease and potentially even prevent leaky gut symptoms.
Collagen, in general, has been a hot topic in the realm of health, wellness, and fitness these days. And for good reason! In addition to promoting healthy joints, potentially helping decrease the signs of aging, and helping in medical settings, such as with pressure ulcer treatment, studies are also finding a connection between collagen and leaky gut.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Before we jump right into the specifics of how collagen may help with a leaky gut, let’s talk about what leaky gut is. The most basic way to describe the condition is as a digestive issue affecting the lining of your intestines. When you have a leaky gut, your intestinal walls have gaps that allow toxins and bacteria to enter your bloodstream.
Having at least a basic understanding of your gastrointestinal tract can also help you understand a leaky gut better.
You see, when we are in optimal health, our intestinal walls are strong enough to not only absorb nutrients as we digest but also prevent toxins from leaking out into our blood. They serve as channels or highways through our body.
However, when the walls of our intestines weaken or start to get perforations, we develop something called intestinal permeability. Intestinal permeability is defined as microscopic holes in the intestinal walls that allow particles of food, bacteria, and other toxins to leak into your body.
If you're imagining a large hole in your intestine right now, don't worry. These are often so small that only certain particles are able to get through. But it doesn't cause much to create stomach cramps, digestive problems and other leaky gut symptoms you may be experiencing.
In fact, every human’s intestines have holes.
In healthy individuals, they are known as tight junctions. They are only small enough to allow our bodies to absorb nutrients - letting unwanted particles pass. When a person develops a leaky gut, their tight junction proteins have begun to deteriorate, making them larger than usual. This change in size is what allows unwanted particles to enter the bloodstream.
This leak may seem minor on paper, but with such a disturbance in the microbiome of your gut, your body is no longer functioning optimally. Disturbances like this are what cause inflammation and infection. All of which can potentially lead to more severe health conditions.
Common Symptoms of Leaky Gut
Is it indigestion or something more?
Gut health is a complicated diagnosis, and many doctors struggle to identify all of the signs and symptoms of leaky gut, IBS, and other digestive issues. Additionally, there is a high possibility that the leaky gut is tied to other health conditions. So, your first symptom may not be directly related to your gut at all.
Even still, being able to recognize these symptoms can help you prevent continual health problems. When you develop a leaky gut, it may present in minor ways, so it's always important to pay attention to your body and monitor any subtle shifts you are noticing.
Some symptoms of a leaky gut could be:
- Food sensitivities and allergies
- Diarrhea, constipation, and bloating
- Sugar cravings
- Mood swings
- Chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue
- Brain fog or headaches
- Joint pain and arthritis
- Skin rashes or acne
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Thyroid Conditions
- Celiac Disease
- Crohn's Disease
- Other Autoimmune Disorders
If you already know you have one of these gut issues, it could be worthwhile to ask your doctor if you may also be suffering from leaky gut syndrome. Then, it may be time to read on and learn about how collagen could help your overall gut health!
Possible Causes of Poor Gut Health
While external factors like stress and anxiety, and internal factors such as inflammation and a PH imbalance, have been touted as the possible culprits of an unhealthy gut biome, the truth is, doctors aren't exactly sure.
Unfortunately, there has yet to be any notable medical and scientific consensus on the exact cause of leaky gut syndrome and intestinal permeability. What we do know is that the only known regulator of intestinal permeability is a protein called zonulin. And, when this protein is activated in genetically vulnerable individuals, it can cause a leaky gut.
There are two known triggers of zonulin production: bacteria in the gut and gluten.
This is where things get confusing because not everyone will react to these triggers the same. There is even some research to show that gluten only increases the production of zonulin in people with preexisting conditions, like celiac disease.
While the production of zonulin is vital in understanding what causes leaky gut syndrome, there are many other factors that may be involved in weakening your intestinal lining.
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Chronic stress
- Consuming high levels of sugar
- Chronic inflammation
- An imbalance of intestinal bacteria or a yeast overgrowth
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e., ibuprofen)
While the exact cause of leaky gut syndrome and intestinal permeability is still undetermined by medical professionals, there is some evidence that the factors above contribute to it.
Therefore, the first step toward treating your leaky gut symptoms might be avoiding certain substances, eating a healthy diet, and managing your daily stress levels. The second step may be introducing nutrient-dense supplements, such as collagen, for leaky gut.
What is Collagen?
As you can see above, one factor of leaky gut that is decidedly impactful is diet. After all, our food goes right into our gut!
This may seem like a no-brainer to some. But it's also great news for people with leaky gut, because it means that the power to increase your day to day quality of life might come down to a few small shifts in what you eat.
And we love to help empower people to live healthier lives with good nutrition!
With that in mind, some supplements have been researched more than others because of the application to medical ailments like this. Two of these supplements are probiotics and collagen for leaky gut syndrome. As many people know that probiotics can restore the healthy bacteria in our guts, our focus today will be on exactly what collagen is and why you might want to start adding it into your healthy gut diet.
Collagen is the most abundant source of protein that our bodies produce naturally.
Collagen is considered to be a complex protein because it is made up of 19 different amino acids. Some of which are non-essential, while others are essential amino acids. While we rely on food to get the majority of our nutrients, our body does produce non-essential amino acids to aid our natural functions.
However, when we are sick or eat an unhealthy diet, things get out of whack, and our bodies are no longer able to regulate appropriately. When this happens, we need to get even the non-essential amino acids from outside sources.
Collagen also makes up 90% of our connective tissue and bone mass and about 70% of our skin. However, as we reach our mid to late twenties, our natural production of this vital nutrient begins to slow. That's why we begin to notice things like wrinkles, joint pain, stomach issues, and more.
Supplementing with collagen protein will not only help us maintain a good level of collagen in our body, but it may actually boost the production of our natural amino acids aiding in the growth and health of our skin, bones, and tissue.
That means that most of us reading this could benefit from a boost in collagen production whether or not we have a leaky gut!
Using Hydrolyzed Collagen to Boost Absorption
When taking collagen in supplemental form, it should be hydrolyzed for optimal absorption.
When collagen is in its whole, natural form, it is made up of fairly large molecules that, at best, will take our bodies longer to break down and use. At worst, it may not be absorbed at all. Hydrolyzation, then, is the process of using fruit enzymes to break down collagen's molecule size so that we can be more certain our bodies will quickly absorb and distribute it to places in need.
When making our ProT liquid collagen products, we took it one step further and made nano-hydrolyzed collagen. This gives an extremely fast absorption rate to accelerate application in your body.
For more information about hydrolyzed collagen and what the process involves, check out our Frog Fuel article on hydrolyzed collagen.
5 Benefits of Collagen for Leaky Gut Syndrome
Topical collagen has already become a popular anti-aging beauty supplement and is also showing up more as a powdered supplement for skin health and athletic performance.
But how can it help our gastrointestinal tract?
1. Collagen May Repair Stomach and Intestinal Lining
One of the biggest draws to collagen supplements is the amino acid content.
Certain amino acids, such as Glycine and Proline, have the ability to fortify and even heal tissues in our bodies. These two amino acids also happen to be two of the primary amino acids that collagen is comprised of. This is one of the reasons why collagen is being used in the medical field for post-operation healing.
When there is damage to the intestinal lining, these amino acids boost our body’s natural ability to repair. Collagen protein could enhance our production of new smooth muscle cells that begin to heal stomach and intestinal lining. These new smooth muscle cells are what can help prevent toxins and other particles from leaking into your bloodstream.
The amino acid glycine is also what helps your body make glutathione. This is an important antioxidant that helps protect your cells. While the collagen is busy helping create new cells, it is also helping to preserve other ones. This keeps your gut healthy while also working on healing.
Once your body can heal the damage in your intestine (tight junctions), then the leaky gut syndrome begins to be much more manageable.
2. Collagen Could Prevent Intestinal Inflammation
Similar to the ability to repair, collagen’s complex array of amino acid contents can help prevent intestinal inflammation as well. Glutamine is the star amino acid in collagen’s ability to fight leaky gut-causing inflammation. It targets the inflammation associated with the opening of tight junctions due to oxidative stress in the intestine.
It has also been suggested that glutamine helps you to curb cravings for things like sugar and alcohol.
If you paid attention to the list above, you already know that both of these are triggers for leaky gut symptoms.
3. Collagen Provides Structure and Support for your Gastrointestinal System
Collagen is an essential supplement for the support, structure, and regulation of the production of body tissues. This includes organs in our digestive system. You see, all of our digestive organs are impacted by leaky gut. Once our intestines are compromised, our other organs need to pick up some of the extra stress we are putting on our bodies.
So, just as new smooth muscle cells get to work to heal and repair the intestinal lining, the amino acids also help to keep our other organs healthy.
Collagen may help heal leaky gut symptoms themselves, but it also can provide the necessary support our entire digestive system needs when in distress. The added support gives our body the time and resources we need to straighten things out and get back on track.
4. Collagen Can Improve Nutrient Absorption
One thing that issue with leaky gut syndrome is trying to make up for the loss of nutrients. Since our tight junctions are opening, we allow toxins and food particles to leak out, but we also are letting precious nutrients escape through our intestinal lining as well.
Collagen is a hydrophilic molecule. This means that it has an attraction to water and acidic molecules. So, when we ingest collagen it will attach itself to water and our stomach acid. By surrounding itself with these molecules, collagen assists in the breakdown of the food we eat.
By moving through our GI tract and holding water, contents can move through more smoothly and at a quicker rate.
More efficient digestion is the result of this process. And, when we can digest our food more effectively, fewer particles will be lost as they move through our intestines. When fewer particles are lost, less have a chance to leak into our bloodstream.
5. Collagen Can Boost Amino Acid Production
The major theme across the GI-tract with collagen supplementation is the abundance of amino acids.
As our production of collagen decreases in our twenties, so does some production of non-essential amino acids. This means that, although we can produce them naturally, we aren’t always making as many as we need.
Our regular diet can help make up for some of these, but the best way to know you are getting all your needed amino acids by taking collagen daily. Not just for leaky gut symptoms, but for overall health.
Collagen protein has an impressive amino acid profile of 19 different types. With the introduction of more amino acids into our bodies, our digestive system gets much healthier. The healthier our body is, the better it begins to work. All of that is to say that as we improve our health with collagen, our bodies will start to pick up their natural production of amino acids to keep us healthy.
When to Take Liquid Collagen for Gut Health
Liquid collagen protein is super easy to integrate into your diet and is safe to take as a daily supplement. This makes is a great long-term solution for treating a chronic ailment such as leaky gut.
Taking prescription medication often only helps during the time you’re taking it. However, collagen keeps working day in and day out to not only treat the symptoms of leaky gut but to help your body heal from the inside out. Just know, it may take some time for your collagen stores to build up in your body and start making a positive impact. So, be patient and stick with it!
So far, there has not been any conclusive evidence to provide us with a suggestion as to when the best time of day is to take collagen as a supplement.
Some people prefer to take it on an empty stomach in the morning while others swear by taking it before bed. Since our liquid collagen is a complete protein, there's no need to take it with an additional protein source or other paired foods. So, the decision is ultimately up to you!
The best thing to do is to find a time of day each day that you can remember to take your collagen protein. Set a packet next to your coffee machine or put them on the shelf in your bathroom. They are small and mess-free and having them visible will help to keep you on track.
The Best Collagen Supplement for Gut Health
If you’ve found this article, there is a high likelihood that you are looking for ways to treat your leaky gut symptoms - or prevent gut issues altogether.
Many factors trigger and cause leaky gut syndrome, and knowing those is an excellent first step. Then, finding ways to manage your chronic illness becomes the focus. There are other natural remedies out there, but collagen is an easy way to improve the health of your entire digestive tract. It can give your body the tools it needs to begin to heal and prevent future flare-ups.
Collagen may have the ability to repair your intestinal walls, improve nutrient absorption, boost amino acid production, prevent inflammation, and provide the necessary structure for other digestive tract organs.
This is a lot of possible benefits in just one supplement.
ProT Gold is a leading liquid collagen supplement formulated by a Stanford biochemist and trusted by over 3,000 medical facilities. It is backed by research and is hydrolyzed to a fraction of the molecular size of regular collagen for faster absorption.
ProT Gold is a complete protein and the real deal when it comes to enhancing your gut health with high-quality medical-grade nutrition.