Did you know collagen can heal a leaky gut? Your gut works hard for you every day by digesting food and delivering nutrients to your bloodstream. A poor diet, stress, and other factors I’ll tell you about later, can cause the tight junctions to open up and allow stuff to get into your bloodstream that’s not supposed to be there. This is known as leaky gut. I’m going to tell you how to fix leaky gut with something you may have not considered – collagen.
It’s well known that collagen supports healthy hair, skin, and nails and joint health. One of the lesser talked about benefits of collagen is its role in supporting a healthy gut. Collagen is beneficial to gut health because it contains large amounts of amino acids glycine, glutamine and proline which support a healthy bacterial balance in your gut microbiome and facilitates a healthy gut barrier. Some other ways collagen promotes gut health include, repairing a leaky gut and supporting nutrient absorption.
Before I talk about how to fix leaky gut with collagen, let me give you a quick refresher on what is leaky gut, the many benefits of collagen, and why it’s one of the four supplements I recommend to every patient dealing with leaky gut.
What Is Leaky Gut?
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ve heard me use the drawbridge analogy to describe leaky gut. If you’re new here, let me explain.
I like to think of your gut as a drawbridge. Your gut is naturally semi-permeable to allow teeny-tiny boats (micronutrients) pass through your intestinal wall and into your bloodstream. As I mentioned, there are a number of external factors such as poor diet, inflammatory foods, infections, toxins, and stress, that causes these injunctions to break apart these tight junctions in your intestinal wall, leaving the drawbridge open. Once this happens, you have a leaky gut.
When your gut is leaky, much larger boats that were never meant to get through such as microbes, toxins, and undigested food particles escape into your bloodstream. Your immune system marks these foreign invaders as pathogens and attacks them, causing a range of symptoms.
Signs of a Leaky Gut
If your intestinal wall has been compromised, you’ll likely experience these symptoms and signs:
- Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease
- Food allergies or food intolerances
- Brain fog, difficulty concentrating, ADD, or ADHD
- Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
- Mood imbalances such as depression and anxiety
- Seasonal allergies or asthma
- Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema
- Hormonal imbalances such as irregular periods, PMS, or PCOS
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, leaky gut may be the culprit.
The Leaky Gut-Autoimmune Connection
If your gut remains leaky, more and more particles are able to escape into your bloodstream. Your immune system reacts by sending out wave after wave of inflammation to attack the foreign invaders. This state of high alert causes your immune system to become overstressed and go rouge. This can lead your own tissues to get caught in the crosshairs. Eventually, this will develop into full-blown autoimmunity if your leaky gut syndrome is not addressed.
In addition, your immune system starts making antibodies against the substances that have escaped into your bloodstream. Many of these foreign invaders—gluten and dairy in particular—look very similar to your own body’s cells.1
Under constant pressure, your immune system can get confused and accidentally attack your tissues. This process of mistaken identity is called molecular mimicry. It’s another way that leaky gut syndrome can trigger autoimmune disease. And, once you have an autoimmune disease, leaving your symptoms untreated can cause your condition to progress. If you have one autoimmune disease, you are more likely to develop another.
So, how is collagen connected to all of this? Well, I’m going to tell you why collagen is an important protein to your gut health and how to fix a leaky gut with collagen.
Collagen and its Benefits
Think of collagen as the “glue” that holds your body together. This fibrous, structural protein is the most abundant protein in your body.2 It is used in your muscles, skin, hair, nails, teeth, bones, blood vessels, tendons, cartilage, joints, organs, and even by your digestive system.
Your body creates collagen every day from the amino acids in the high-protein food you eat such as free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, and fatty fish. However, as we age, our natural collagen production begins to slow. By age 40, collagen begins to deplete faster than your body can reproduce it, and by age 60, over ½ of your body’s collagen has been depleted.3
Even though it’s the most abundant protein in your body, collagen is not a complete protein because it’s missing one of the 9 essential amino acids to make it a complete protein – tryptophan.
Benefits of Collagen
Collagen has an array of benefits, especially when it comes to your hair, skin, and nails. One of the key benefits of collagen is that it helps fix leaky gut. I’ll talk more about that in just a minute. Here are some of the other benefits of collagen.
Supports Joint Health
Collagen benefits your joints, tendons, and ligaments by allowing them to glide and move with ease — much like how oil benefits a car. As your collagen production depletes with age, your joints can become stiff, swollen, and painful, even causing a lack of mobility. Collagen contains the amino acids glycine and proline, which help to support joint mobility and promote a healthy inflammatory response.
Improves the Appearance of Hair, Skin, and Nails
Hair loss and skin issues can be symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, as well as the normal aging process. As I mentioned, it’s well known that collagen supports healthy hair, skin, and nails. When skin loses its elasticity and becomes thin, cellulite becomes more obvious. Collagen promotes the healthy aging of your skin by increasing moisture retention, boosting elasticity, and helping to smooth out that dimpled appearance.
Supports Bone Formation, Growth, and Repair
Your bones are made of ⅓ collagen, which gives them flexibility. Your bone cells are constantly regenerating and adding collagen to your daily diet can promote healthy cell formation in your bones by increasing bone mineral density.
Supports Optimal Weight
Glycine, the amino acid I’ve mentioned a few times, forms muscle by converting glycogen into glucose for energy. Essentially, collagen benefits your body by turning it into a fat-burning machine, even when you’re at rest. There is some evidence to also suggest that supplemental collagen may support a feeling of fullness after you eat. After all, collagen is a protein and one of the benefits of protein is that it makes you feel fuller longer.
Now I’m going to tell you about how to fix leaky gut with collagen and why it’s one of my main supplements to support gut health.
Does Collagen Fix Leaky Gut?
Remember when I said collagen is used basically everywhere in our bodies? Collagen is important for healthy gut function because it’s full of gut supporting amino acids that supports your digestive system.
Amino Acids in Collagen
Amino acids are the building blocks that make proteins, hormones, and even neurotransmitters. Collagen contains eight of the nine essential amino acids. An essential amino acid is one that you can only get through your diet.4 And the best sources of these amino acids are high-protein foods.
Collagen also contains nonessential amino acids, which are ones your body can make on its own. Three of the nonessential amino acids in collagen – glycine, glutamine, and proline – are considered conditional amino acids. Conditional amino acids are ones that become essential in times of illness or stress.5 That’s why it’s so important to supplement collagen as you get older or have an autoimmune disorder. Glycine, glutamine, and proline are also essential for a healthy gut. Let’s talk about them.
This amino acid is naturally found in the body, but it can be depleted from trauma and irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Glutamine is fundamental to gut health because it supports and promotes a healthy gut barrier essential for fixing a leaky gut.
This is the primary amino acid in collagen. Like glutamine, glycine is also made naturally in the body from the modification of other amino acids. Glycine facilitates the rebuilding of tissue that lines the digestive tract.
Proline is another abundant amino acid found in collagen. This conditional amino acid seals and heals the gut lining, plus it promotes nutrient absorption.
How to Get More Collagen in Your Diet
I’ve mentioned some high-protein foods earlier that can support natural collagen production. The best sources are from meat because collagen is found in the bones, skin, and connective tissue of animals. Plants don’t have naturally occurring collagen, but some have higher amounts of the amino acids necessary for our bodies to build it. Tofu is a food that comes from plants that has all 9 essential amino acids. Here are some foods high in collagen and the amino acids found in it.
Citrus fruits are also a good source of collagen; however, some people are sensitive to them. If you are unsure if you have a sensitivity to citrus, I recommend following an elimination diet to determine if you have a food sensitivity.
Collagen Should be Hydrolyzed
Collagen isn’t absorbed very well by the body. That’s why hydrolyzed collagen is the best form, because it is easier to absorb since it’s broken down into small particles. Those small particles are called peptides, or chains of beneficial amino acids. This ensures far greater absorption and bioavailability. Hydrolyzed collagen may also be referred to as collagen peptides or collagen hydrolysate, but they’re all the same product.
I had a hard time finding a high-quality collagen supplement, until I found the Designs for Health Whole Body Collagen. Not only is it hydrolyzed, but it is also sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised beef and is 100% non-GMO.
If you want a stronger arsenal of weapons to fix leaky gut, I’ve got something exciting to tell you about.
A Full Arsenal to Fix Leaky Gut
Sometimes you need a little bit more extra support, whether that’s due to having a food intolerance, autoimmunity, or other digestive issue. That is why I have put the following products together for you in this article.
These physician-formulated, third-party tested product include Collagen Protein, Digestzymes, Probiotics, and my No. 1 tool for fixing leaky gut, GI Revive for Leaky Gut. I’ve talked about how to fix leaky gut with collagen, so let me tell you about the other tools to support a healthy gut barrier.
GI Revive for Leaky Gut is a powerful blend of L-glutamine, marshmallow root, aloe leaf, larch arabinogalactan, and licorice root to restore the gut lining, strengthen the mucous membrane, promote regular bowel patterns,
Digestzymes are a broad-spectrum blend of proteolytic enzymes I selected to aid in digestion and facilitate the breaking down of inflammatory antigens, such as lectins. This helps support a normal inflammation response in the gut which is critical for supporting a healthy gut barrier.
The specially formulated Probiotics to support optimal digestive health and promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Leaky gut, gas, bloating, yeast overgrowth and a disruption of normal bowel habits are often the first signs that something has gone awry with the balance of your gut microbiome. Supplementation with a high-quality probiotic promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Collagen is one of the most diverse proteins because it does so much in your body. Due to its high amounts of amino acids glycine, glutamine and proline, collagen is the secret weapon to fix leaky gut and supporting a healthy gut.
- Molecular mimicry as a mechanism for food immune reactivities and autoimmunity. Aristo Vojdani. Alternative Therapy Health Medicine. 2015.
- What is collagen, and why do people use it?. James McIntosh. Medical News Today. 2017.
- Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin. James Varani, et al. The American Journal of Pathology. 2006.
- Essential Amino Acids: Definition, Benefits, and Food Sources. Amy Richter, RD. Healthline. 2022.
- Amino Acids. MedlinePlus. 2021.