Gut health is an incredibly important factor in our overall health and wellness. That's because your gut is kind of the control center for the functioning of your whole body. You might be thinking, 'Wait a minute, I thought my brain was the control center.' Yes, your brain does the thinking, but what if we told you that the state of your gut could impact the way you think? The way you manage stress? How well you sleep? What your skin looks like? The strength of your immune system? The foods you crave?
Gastrointestinal science and how it relates to every system in your body is a growing field that’s captured the interest of functional medical experts around the world. Importantly, a big part of gut health is ensuring that you're putting the right ingredients into your body to support your gut. It has the very important job of digesting your foods and protecting you from invaders. And pure collagen powder is one of those ingredients. Learn why and how it works.
Gut Health as Your Control Center
Your gut physically sits squarely in the middle of your body. And it might as well sit squarely in the middle of your approach to health and wellness. Without gut health, you'll likely run into a host of other health issues, including chronic disease.
Your gut acts as a gatekeeper for the rest of your body, taking in food at the top (your mouth) and processing it piece by piece, starting with your teeth and the enzymes produced in your saliva down to your stomach where it encounters more enzymes and stomach acids, then into your small and large intestines where helpful bacteria live, and out the hatch.
This process is certainly a familiar one, but what might be new to you is the incredible importance of keeping that process sealed inside the twists and turns of your gut. Nothing should be leaking out at the wrong time or before it's properly broken down.
The trouble comes when there's a leak. A leaky gut is both a cause and a result of chronic inflammation in your body. It can dramatically affect (and be affected by) the health of your microbiome, which is the collection of living microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses) in your large intestine that help do all the important functions we've already mentioned .
Chronic inflammation can lead to joint and ligament pain, acne and other skin disorders, and even mood and sleep disorders through what's called the gut-brain axis (there's also a gut-brain-skin axis!) .
So Where Does Collagen Come In?
Collagen is among the most important building blocks of your gut lining (and everything else in your body). It's the most abundant protein in your body, creating the cushion and flexibility in your joints, the elasticity in your skin, the give in your bones and fingernails and the list goes on. There are 28 different types of collagen. You can make it yourself in your body, but as we age, the efficiency and output of our collagen production can start to change .
Enter fine lines and wrinkles, increased joint pain and injury, inadequately functioning immune system, possible autoimmunity and general signs of ageing .
By supplementing with high-quality collagen (ideally from grass-fed cows or wild-caught fish), you could be helping reduce these signs of ageing and improving your overall health and wellness too.
What Is Collagen?
The structural protein matrix of collagen is primarily made up of the amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. Other amino acids also found in collagen include glutamine, leucine, lysine and tyrosine.
Type I collagen is the primary ingredient in your connective tissue. It keeps your bones strong and flexible, and helps prevent brittle bones. It's found in the skin matrix, teeth, tendons, ligaments, vascular system and organs (like the gut lining). Type II contributes to the creation of cartilage. Type III is also in the skin, muscle and blood vessels .
The Best Way to Supplement Collagen: UK Options
With so many collagen protein powder supplements out there, it can be challenging to know which is the best collagen supplement for you. First and foremost, quality in sourcing is everything.
Knowing that your collagen powder from the UK is sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised cowhide or from wild-caught fish will give you peace of mind in the quality of the sourcing. You'll also want to check the ingredients label to ensure there aren't additional unnecessary fillers, artificial colours or potential allergens like gluten or milk dairy.
In some cases — especially in supplements marketed toward skin health (skin hydration, improving skin elasticity or reducing fine lines and wrinkles) — you might find that there's additional vitamin C, biotin or hyaluronic acid in the ingredients. Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid both aid in the body's creation and absorption of collagen and elastin, while biotin is a B vitamin that helps support hair, skin and nails. However, we prefer to use clean sources of collagen without added extras, so that you can guarantee the source of the collagen and also the vitamin C. Our preference for vitamins is in a natural form such as organ supplements or in a liposomal format.
As a quick aside on skincare, the collagen molecule is too large to pass through your skin, so don't be fooled by expensive anti-ageing skincare that markets itself as having collagen in the ingredients.* With collagen peptides, the collagen has been hydrolysed (broken down) so that your body can utilise the ingested collagen to support your skin health from the inside out.
*Warning, do not attempt to eat your collagen skin cream if you have bought some. Opt for a clean source of collagen peptides that have been specifically created to be ingested.
In powders marketed toward joint health or osteoarthritis, you might see additional ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin or MSM, all of which help support joint health. These additions aren't necessary for a collagen supplement to be a great product, but they're examples of common additives.
How You Use It Makes a Difference
What you plan to do with your collagen will help you determine whether you want collagen hydrolysate, also known as hydrolysed collagen, or a slightly less processed version, which is gelatin — yes, the stuff in the little sachets that makes jelly.
If you've ever made bone broth and noticed that it turns to 'meaty jelly' in the fridge, that's gelatin at work. Again, all the sourcing recommendations above apply if you choose this version, so don't go for the mass-produced sachets.
Both hydrolysed collagen and gelatin are tasteless white powders. Both are keto-friendly, dairy-free, paleo and gluten-free. The difference between the two is the way they behave when added to liquid. Gelatin will liquefy in hot or warm liquids while it will firm up like the dessert in cold liquid. That makes it a good choice for adding to something like coffee or hot chocolate, or you can make a fun gummy treat to consume your collagen.
If you prefer to drink your collagen as part of a smoothie, you'll want to go with hydrolysed collagen. The process of hydrolysis is just one step beyond the process of making gelatin, further breaking down the amino acids so they don't solidify when added to cold liquid.
Benefits of Collagen
Collagen is critical for building every system of your body because it's the most abundant protein your body makes. You need collagen for your muscles and joints to grow and stay healthy. You need it to stave off skin ageing and sagging. You need it to keep your organs healthy, and especially to keep your gut lining sealed and functioning properly.
By adding high-quality collagen supplements to your diet, you're helping yourself prevent some of the pitfalls of ageing and poor gut health. Start adding hydrolysed collagen to your smoothies, soups, stews and even your morning coffee, or make gummies with high-quality gelatin. Or check out these 5 ways to add collagen peptides into your daily routine. Your body will thank you.
All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.
It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.