Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular in recent years, with people taking them for various health and beauty benefits. One of the more recently discovered benefits of collagen supplements is that they can be taken to support gut health. The science behind hydrolysed collagen supplements and their effect on the gut is still emerging, but various studies have shown promising results.
What is hydrolysed collagen?
Hydrolysed collagen is a form of collagen that has been broken down into smaller pieces called peptides, making it more easily absorbed and used by the body. This makes hydrolysed collagen different to other dietary sources of collagen such as gelatine and bone broth that have larger proteins which are less easily digested and absorbed. Collagen is a type of protein that makes up a large proportion of our skin, hair, nails, bones and connective tissue.
How can hydrolysed collagen support gut health?
Hydrolysed collagen is thought to support the cells of the gut lining (known as the mucosal layer). When healthy, these cells are joined by tight junctions which create a barrier between the outside world and our inside world, helping to filter out pathogens to prevent them from entering the bloodstream. When this system functions normally, foreign pathogens are presented to immune cells in the gut lining.
If they are harmful, a normal immune response is activated, where antibodies are produced to destroy the pathogen so that it cannot pass into the bloodstream. However, if this barrier is compromised, as we see in leaky gut syndrome, harmful pathogens are able to effectively bypass the immune cells in the mucosal layer and pass straight through, which activates an inflammatory response.
Hydrolysed collagen is high in amino acids glycine, proline and glutamine which help to support the health of the cells in our gut lining. Although these amino acids can be found in other dietary sources, in hydrolysed collagen the proteins are already broken down into small bio available parts, making them easy for the body to use and absorb.
What does the research say?
Whilst research on hydrolysed collagen and gut health is still in its early stages, several studies have shown positive results. One 8 - week study in women with digestive symptoms found that 9 3% of the 20 study participants experienced a reduction in their digestive symptoms, which included abdominal discomfort.
In addition to this, some studies done in animals and humans suggest that collagen peptides may reduce intestinal inflammation. This study isn't definitive, but it does indicate that collagen may have an anti - inflammatory effect in the gut.
Overall, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of hydrolysed collagen on gut health. However, the available evidence does suggest that hydrolysed collagen may be a beneficial dietary supplement if you are looking to support your gut health.