By Carla Oates
When we think of collagen, most of us likely consider it to be a key factor in smooth, firm, plump and youthful skin. While this is certainly true—collagen is also a protein that plays a critical role in a number of other aspects of our health—including our gut.
As the most abundant protein in the human body, the health benefits of collagen extend to our bones, joints, connective tissues, ligaments, muscles, nails, hair and gut. Think of it as the ‘glue’ that holds our body together—keeping it strong, healthy and vital.
If we then also consider how integral our gut is in determining the state of our immune health, metabolism, brain health, skin and overall wellbeing—maintaining a healthy gut is therefore of the utmost importance. When we neglect this vital system, we leave it vulnerable to pathogens, infection, inflammation and often, leaky gut syndrome. Also known as intestinal permeability, leaky gut is a condition whereby the integrity of the intestinal wall has been compromised and as a result, an immune response has been triggered. When the typically tight junctions of the gut wall become loosened or ‘leaky’, endotoxins that would ordinarily be processed and eliminated are able to escape and be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. It’s this process that triggers our immune system—and subsequently, inflammation.
While there are many factors that can obviously contribute to and also help to heal leaky gut, incorporating more collagen and collagen-rich foods into our diet is one way to ensure our digestive system continues to function at an optimal level. Here’s how collagen can be of benefit to your gut health...
It soothes, repairs and strengthens the gut lining
Collagen plays an integral role in rebuilding and strengthening the lining of our digestive tract as it contains the amino acids—particularly glycine and glutamine—that are essential for its repair. In fact, research has shown that collagen peptides can actually ameliorate gut barrier dysfunction and improve its tight junctions. A 2020 animal study has also found an interesting correlation between a diet rich in collagen peptides and an altered microbiota with increased short-chain fatty acid production. Given that SCFAs harbour powerful anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory benefits, this is an exciting new area of research.
Furthermore, as gut inflammation is linked to inflammation elsewhere in the body, it’s undoubtedly beneficial to include an abundance of amino acid-rich foods—such as collagen—in our diet on a regular basis to help reduce gut inflammation and keep conditions such as leaky gut at bay.
It aids digestion and nutrient absorption
When we experience digestive issues such as leaky gut, we are also likely to suffer from impaired nutrient absorption as nutrients that would otherwise be properly digested and absorbed in a healthy gut, are able to escape through the intestinal lining. As collagen helps to support gut wall integrity however, we can help to mitigate this loss of nutrients due to impaired gut function by upping our collagen intake.
It aids collagen synthesis
While our bodies naturally produce collagen—as we age, our ability to do so declines and so we must ensure we consume enough of the amino acids required to build, store and synthesise collagen. Noshing on protein-rich foods regularly—such as animal proteins, eggs and dairy—will ensure that we receive these critical amino acids that are required to support collagen synthesis, however a collagen supplement—such as The Beauty Chef’s DEEP COLLAGEN marine collagen powder—is another simple way to amp up your amino acid intake and boost your collagen levels.
Why choose marine collagen?
There are many types of collagen and with an abundance of collagen supplements on the market, it can be understandably confusing trying to determine which supplement is best suited to your skin, health and wellness concerns. While marine collagen has also gained popularity in recent years, there are several factors that are important to consider–especially when comparing it to other sources of collagen such as bovine-derived collagen.
Firstly, until very recently, there has been little research to support the consumption of collagen supplements at all—no matter their source. But the good news is that science is finally catching up with anecdotal evidence, with studies illustrating how hydrolysed marine collagen can actually improve overall skin elasticity and hydration, while also boosting collagen production and collagen density. It has also been linked to improved wound healing and can help to protect and preserve collagen stores deep beneath the dermis—helping to improve general skin health and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Given that marine collagen is also a good source of proline, glutamine and glycine—amino acids which help to protect and strengthen the intestinal barrier—it is also a great way to support overall digestive health and function.
The second factor to consider is sustainability. Given that marine collagen is now widely considered to be more sustainable than other forms of collagen—it’s not only a great choice for your individual health, but also the health of our planet. Carbon emissions from marine fisheries are lower than those produced during conventional red meat production and the fish skins used to make marine collagen supplements are also already considered to be by-products of the food industry. Still, when choosing a marine collagen supplement it’s important to do your research as not all collagen products are created equal. The hydrolysed collagen peptides that we chose to include in our DEEP COLLAGEN powder, for example, adhere to strict Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards, and derive from wild-caught, deep-sea, North Atlantic cod—both important factors for us as a brand when looking to develop the most sustainable formula possible.
The final factor to consider when favouring marine collagen over other sources of collagen is that if your diet doesn’t include an abundance of animal proteins, eggs and dairy or gelatin-rich foods like bone broth and chicken’s feet—a marine collagen supplement is a great way to boost your intake of these essential amino acids. Incorporating it into your inner beauty routine is also a simple way to reap the gut—and skin-boosting—benefits of marine collagen!