The overall health of our gut is very important to our overall wellbeing. In fact, our gut is often referred to as our “second brain”, affecting mood, energy levels and much more. Thus, the food we eat must be well processed if we are to absorb the vitamins and minerals efficiently which in turn affect our body’s critical functions; as well as digestion, hormone regulation, immune response, detoxification as well as mental health.
Ensuring your gut health is therefore crucial and a healthy gut flora and healthy gut lining play a big role in ensuring an efficient digestive process. What you eat will affect your gut bacteria and eating plenty of foods that are high in fibre will help create a healthy microbiome in the gut. However, when it comes to improving the health of your gut, you may not consider collagen as a nutrient to also include. After all, collagen is more likely to be associated with improving skin health and joint pain rather than the gut and digestive system. In fact Collagen can have significant benefits for healing the gut and improving gut integrity and well worth incorporating into your daily routine for better gut health.
Essentially, collagen is the gut’s connective tissue and as such provides the strength and support to the lining of your digestive tract. It is effectively a protective lining, acting as a barrier allowing only particles that should pass through, to enter the blood stream from the gut. If this protective lining is damaged, the gaps between the tight junctions become larger and thus allow larger particles to pass through into the blood stream. This damage results in a condition known as Leaky Gut Syndrome that in turn leads to inflammation, which can be very painful and cause significant digestive discomfort.
Studies have shown that those with inflammatory bowel disease, where typically the gut health has been compromised, were more likely to have lower levels of serum collagen. Increasing collagen intake may help to support the lining of the gut and therefore improve gut health in general.
Taking a supplement is the easiest way to boost collagen intake, but it is important to choose one that contains hydrolysed collagen peptides, where the amino acids in the collagen are already in a more easily digestible and absorbable form.
Once the gut is healed and the tight junctions in the lining of the intestines restored, inflammation is reduced and gut health is restored.
Foods to include to improve gut health:
- Plenty of high fibre fresh vegetables, such as asparagus and broccoli and fruits; aim to reach 7 portions per day
- Complex carbohydrates; wholegrains and starchy vegetables such as butternut squash, sweet potato
- Pulses such as chickpeas and lentils
- Nuts and seeds
- Probiotic foods such as live plain yoghurt or fermented foods such as sauerkraut and pickles
Collagen powder can also be added to smoothies, hot beverages, or baked goods to pump some extra protein into your day.