Should you take collagen supplements for gut health?

Should you take collagen supplements for gut health?

Cutting board with vegetables and three bowls of broth, do you need collagen supplements for better gut health

Should you take collagen supplements for gut health?

This post is for general information purposes only, is not meant to diagnose or treat, and is in no way a replacement for consulting a medical professional.

Collagen – you might have heard about it over on social media, but exactly what is collagen, and do you need to take collagen supplements for gut health or irritable bowel syndrome?

 

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and is the second most abundant substance overall after water! So it is pretty darn important.

Collagen is found in our connective tissue, which means in our bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, hair, and nails. It’s the protein that gives the structure to all of these tissues.

In addition to providing structure to the body, collagen also helps maintaining healthy blood vessels and healing wounds. Most people seek out collagen for either bone and joint health or for beauty purposes (skin/hair/nails) or both!

Collagen is often used in the beauty world to claim anti-aging properties. However, the collagen particles are generally too large for the skin to absorb topically, so the positive benefits tend to be more attributable to the moisturizing properties of the product. That being said, collagen is important in maintaining skin strength and elasticity, it just needs to come from our diet instead.

Like all proteins, collagen is made up of various amino acids, which in this case are namely glycine, lysine, and proline. These amino acids need to be converted into a special form by enzymes to create collagen, a process that requires vitamin C. Therefore sufficient vitamin C is extremely important for the formation and maintenance of healthy collagen.

Other minerals such as zinc, copper, manganese, and sulphur are also cofactors for collagen production and maintenance. 

Factors negatively affecting collagen production

  • general aging –  our collagen breaks down over time
  • high sugar intake levels
  • excessive sun exposure
  • smoking / second-hand smoke
  • autoimmune disorders
  • repeated physical stress on a part of the body
Personal at a table holding a cup of broth, do you need collagen supplements for better gut health

Sources of collagen in the diet

The best source of collagen itself is through consuming something like bone broth. Bone broth is made from cooking animal bones, including the cartilage, for a long period of time so that it breaks down and turn the broth gelatinous. The yolks from chicken eggs also contain collagen.

Other ways to boost your collagen is through consuming foods rich in the cofactors needed by your body to produce healthy collagen. For example:

  • citrus or berries for vitamin C
  • salmon or pumpkin seeds for zinc
  • leafy greens for chlorophyll which is shown to increase the precursor to collagen

There are also some collagen supplements on the market, generally as a powder that can be mixed in with cold or warm liquids. Take care if you are using collagen as a protein powder in smoothies or shakes as it is not a complete protein; it could still be beneficial to add in some high quality whey powder along with it.

 

Do I need to supplement with collagen for IBS?

Are you a generally healthy person following a healthy diet? Then no, you don’t need to supplement with collagen.

The best way to ensure healthy collagen levels in your body is to consume collagen containing foods, or foods with the needed cofactors, rather than relying on a supplement.

That being said, it could be helpful to supplement with collagen during recovery from injuries or surgery.

But the most documented benefit of collagen supplementation is an improvement in skin, joint, and bone health through a reduction in pain and inflammation.

When it comes to gut health specifically, there’s not enough evidence to support collagen supplementation for IBS specifically. More research into this area is definitely needed.

First and foremost, for the average, healthy person, it is always best to start by focusing on a general healthy diet, one that is going to be giving your body naturally the protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals it needs. Any supplementation should only come after this is achieved.

Picture of Healthfully Heather IBS Nutrition
Curious about one-on-one coaching?

Ready to understand what is triggering your IBS symptoms, start feeling comfortable in your body again, and say goodbye to bloating, anxiety, pain, and cramps?

Let's create a concrete plan for reducing your IBS symptoms that works with your lifestyle and your goals in mind.

Get started by booking your Breakthrough Session.

Probiotics and IBS

Probiotics and IBS

Red and pink pills lined up to create a medical cross, should you be taking probiotics to help with your IBS symptoms?

Probiotics and IBS

If you are going to try any sort of supplement, always discuss with your doctor and nutrition professional first. This post is for general information purposes only, is not meant to diagnose or treat, and is in no way a replacement for consulting a medical professional.

 

What are probiotics?

Our gut is home to millions and millions of bacteria – in fact the number of bacteria in your gut is higher than the number of cells in the human body! The total weight of them can even come to 1.5kg / 4lbs. It’s generally agreed that there are about 500-1000 different types of bacteria in our gut, and for a healthy individual we have a harmonious relationship with these guys.

These bacteria are vital to our health; they help maintain the health of the cells in the gut lining, they support our immune function in the gastrointestinal tract (which is where the bulk of our immune system is located!), they aid in the digestion and absorption of key nutrients, and they even produce some nutrients that our body cannot produce itself – making these available for us.

Probiotics are essentially supplements of specific types of the “good guy” bacteria. The idea is that in taking them, you may be boosting the population of the good bacteria, which would help if your body’s balance of bacteria in the gut is off.

You can also find natural sources of probiotics in certain foods, namely fermented foods, like yogurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and other pickled vegetables.

When it comes to supplementation specifically, most research has centered on two main families of bacteria: lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. However, the specific strains/sub-strains of bacteria are going to vary from product to product. Some supplements will just be one specific strain, some may be a mix, and the overall quantity of bacteria can also vary.

 

Should I be supplementing with probiotics for IBS?

One theory is that symptoms of IBS such as gas, may develop due to an imbalance of “good vs. bad” bacteria in the gut. However, actual clinical results have been mixed and largely inconclusive as to whether probiotics are effective in reducing IBS symptoms.

When it comes to our gut microbiome, in general the composition of it is fairly similar between healthy individuals. But when it comes to an unbalanced microbiome, every person’s tends to be unique. Therefore, it’s difficult to judge whether or not a probiotic will be effective.

Since the bacteria in the probiotic are meant to be alive, it’s also difficult to say how many – if any – actually make it through the digestive system and to the large intestine still alive. And a small study done on off-the-shelf probiotic supplements found that 50% of those tested were actually already dead even before use! Since there’s very little regulation in the industry, whether you’re getting what you paid for can be questionable.

The American Gastroenterological Association has recently come out with revised recommendations stating that there is insufficient evidence to recommend probiotics for IBS.

However, a low-FODMAP diet for as little as 4 weeks has been seen to already impact the balance of bacteria in the gut in a negative direction. But research done at King’s College in the UK has shown that taking a probiotic may help rebalance the gut microbiome after following a low-FODMAP diet.

Overall, if you’re going to try supplementing with a probiotic, keep your expectations realistic and only expect a mild improvement, if any.

 

Considerations for supplementing with probiotics for IBS

Start with the natural sources in fermented foods! Ease into it over time, as going for a too-large portion size right away could cause digestive distress. Keep in mind that some probiotic-rich foods could be high in FODMAPs.

If you try a supplement, you can also ease into in it by starting with lower amounts. Research suggests that it is more beneficial to focus on one specific strain of bacteria at first, rather than choosing one with many different types.

Give yourself at least a month (one full female hormone cycle) to judge whether or not they are making a difference. They should be taken just before or during a meal (of course always follow the label’s instructions).

If you don’t see an improvement – stop taking them! You don’t want to be wasting your money. You could also try switching to a different strain of bacteria.

 

Final thoughts

As always, consult your doctor before taking any sort of supplement! If you have a known immune deficiency, have cancer or are undergoing cancer treatment, or have short gut syndrome, you shouldn’t be taking probiotics. 

There is no research on long-term probiotic use, so taking them for a longer period isn’t recommended.

There is no magical pill that replaces doing the work – and this includes probiotics!

Any supplementation should generally be a second line of support after working with a professional on establishing a healthy, balanced diet and making positive lifestyle changes to address your specific IBS symptom triggers. Always discuss diet and lifestyle changes, as well as supplementation, with your doctor prior to starting.

 

Picture of Healthfully Heather IBS Nutrition
Curious about one-on-one coaching?

Ready to understand what is triggering your IBS symptoms, start feeling comfortable in your body again, and say goodbye to bloating, anxiety, pain, and cramps?

Let's create a concrete plan for reducing your IBS symptoms that works with your lifestyle and your goals in mind.

Get started by booking your Breakthrough Session.

Digestive Enzymes and IBS

Digestive Enzymes and IBS

Small bowl with white pills, what you need to know about digestive enzymes and IBS

Digestive Enzymes and IBS

If you are going to try any sort of supplement, always discuss with your doctor and nutrition professional first. This post is for general information purposes only, is not meant to diagnose or treat, and is in no way a replacement for consulting a medical professional.

 

What are digestive enzymes?

Enzymes are a specific type of protein and act as a chemical catalyst in the body. Digestive enzymes are the group that break down the food we eat into smaller molecules to eventually be absorbed and used by the body. 

Most digestive enzymes are made by the pancreas and during digestion are secreted into the small intestine. But some are also made by the salvatory glands (so are present in our saliva), and by the cells lining the stomach and small intestine.

Each digestive enzyme has its own specific target, for example:

  • Amylase targets carbohydrates, breaking down complex sugars into simple sugars
  • Lipase targets fats, breaking them down into fatty acids and glycerol
  • Pepsin targets proteins, breaking them down into peptides

These are just a few examples of the many digestive enzymes our body produces. One that you may be more familiar with is lactase. This is the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose (milk sugar) into glucose and galactose. The lack of this enzyme in some people is what lies behind lactose intolerance! (Keep in mind this is not the same as with a true dairy allergy.)

 

Should I be supplementing with digestive enzymes for IBS?

Supplementation of digestive enzymes originally started namely for people with pancreatic insufficiency – these people were unable to produce enough of their own digestive enzymes in the pancreas.

There’s some, albeit limited, research that certain digestive enzymes could beneficial for people with IBS. The theory being that they can help with indigestion and cut down on the chance of IBS symptoms being triggered by poorly digested food.

However, regulation in the digestive enzyme industry is very poor, and many products on the market lack scientific evidence backing up their beneficial claims. Since enzymes are a type of protein, in many cases there is no proof that these enzymes even reach the small intestine intact – they may be digested themselves in the process!

If you are going to try a supplement, always discuss with your doctor and nutrition professional first. Make sure to choose one that has research showing its benefits specifically for IBS symptoms. Take them following the label’s instructions (generally before and/or during a meal).

Supplements can be pricey, so take the time to evaluate whether you are experiencing any benefit from it after a consistent trial period of a month. If you don’t notice the benefit, don’t waste your money!

 

Types of digestive enzymes for IBS

Lactase (commonly found as the brand Lactaid)

This is a digestive enzyme that aids in the breakdown of the milk sugar, lactose. Studies have shown it can reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance that many people with IBS struggle with.

 

Alpha-galactosidase

Around 2/3 of people with IBS have been found to be sensitive to a FODMAP subcategory called GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides). GOS are commonly found in foods like lentils and legumes, cashews, and pistachios. The digestive enzyme alpha-galactosidase has been shown to reduce symptoms of IBS like bloating, abdominal distension, and gas.

 

Biointol

Biointol is a combination of different digestive enzymes along with some soluble fibers. A study on IBS patients showed improvement on symptoms like bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, with a slight increase in urgency of bowel movements. However, the study was a fairly small group and there was no placebo group. More research still needs to be done.

 

Pancreatic lipase (PEZ)

A small study on a group of people with diarrhea predominant IBS showed improvement in symptoms like cramping, stomach rumbling, bloating, urgency of bowel movements, pain, and loose stools. More research still needs to be done.

 

Final thoughts

Digestive enzymes could be helpful for some people with IBS. Take care which ones you are taking and make sure to choose ones that have credible research and proven results on IBS symptoms. Some digestive enzymes can come from animal-based sources, so make sure to check the label if you require a vegan/vegetarian product.

Remember that some digestive enzymes, like lactase, are very specific, and so their effectiveness is going to rely on whether or not you’re consuming food that contains that substance. This is why knowing what your food triggers are is so important! 

There is no magical pill that replaces doing the work – and this includes digestive enzymes!

Any supplementation should generally be a second line of support after working with a professional on establishing a healthy, balanced diet and making positive lifestyle changes to address your specific IBS symptom triggers. Always discuss diet and lifestyle changes, as well as supplementation, with your doctor prior to starting.

 

Picture of Healthfully Heather IBS Nutrition
Curious about one-on-one coaching?

Ready to understand what is triggering your IBS symptoms, start feeling comfortable in your body again, and say goodbye to bloating, anxiety, pain, and cramps?

Let's create a concrete plan for reducing your IBS symptoms that works with your lifestyle and your goals in mind.

Get started by booking your Breakthrough Session.

Is Gluten Triggering IBS symptoms?

Is Gluten Triggering IBS symptoms?

What's the deal with Gluten?

Have you ever wondered what the deal is with gluten, and how come so many people are against it?

Could it be that it’s gluten triggering IBS symptoms and causing the cramps, pain, and bloating to appear?

Or perhaps you’ve already cut it out, but yet your IBS symptoms are still sticking around.

On social media these days, it seems like it’s healthy eating 101 to cut the stuff out – but don’t forget that we don’t want to be unnecessarily limiting our diet.

Now I know I might ruffle some feathers with the following statement, but…

…research hasn’t shown any sizeable link between gluten and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms (when celiac disease, the autoimmune condition related to gluten, is properly controlled for).


However, many people do report anecdotally that their symptoms have lessened when cutting it out.

The thing is, it might have nothing to do with gluten!

Many gluten containing foods also contain fructans – a FODMAP! Where gluten is a type of protein, fructans are a type of carbohydrate – specifically a long chain of fructose molecules.

This is why you might still experience symptoms when ditching the gluten – fructans are found in more foods than just wheat, like onions and garlic.

And the good news is, most people with IBS can tolerate some fructans in smaller servings. For example, a couple slices of sourdough bread or a small side of pasta likely is low enough in fructans for many IBS-sufferers to tolerate – even though they contain gluten!

This is just yet another example of how individualized IBS triggers can be. What works for one person might not for you.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t tend to be one, overarching catalyst triggering your symptoms, regardless of whether you find yourself sensitive to gluten and/or fructans.

(As an aside, if you suspect you’re sensitive to gluten, be sure to be properly screened for celiac disease by your doctor.)

Check out this week’s video below to dive deeper:

Ready to create a concrete plan for reducing your IBS symptoms like bloating, pain, and gas? Want to understand what is triggering your symptoms, finally start feeling comfortable in your body again, and stop feeling anxious whenever you leave the house?

Book a Breakthrough Session to talk about how we can get you there!

What are FODMAPs?

What are FODMAPs?

What are FODMAPs?

What are FODMAPs?

You’ve maybe heard this strange term floating around, especially if you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). But what does it actually mean?!

FODMAPs is an acronym that stands for:

Fermentable

Oligosaccharides

Disaccharides

Monosaccharides

And

Polyols

While these are perfectly healthy nutrients, foods that contain these substances can sometimes cause a flare-up of symptoms in people with IBS. (But note that FODMAPs do not cause IBS!)

Check out the video to learn more.

 

What is IBS?

What is IBS?

What is IBS?

Do you have IBS?

Odds are, even if you don’t, then you know someone who does. There are estimates that up to even 1 in 5 people may suffer from it!

It’s also highly likely that if someone you know has IBS they just aren’t talking about it. The symptoms are really something people like to discuss about openly and can make sufferers feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. 

Irritable bowel syndrome can greatly impact the person’s daily activities and quality of life. There’s a lot of stress and uncertainty around where and when they may experience a flare-up of symptoms. 

So they definitely need an extra dose of understanding and empathy!

 

Contact

Healthfully Heather

Oordegemstraat 8, 9520 Vlierzele

VAT: 0694867319

✉️   hello@healthfullyheather.com

📞  +32(0)486.38.47.49

© 2019 Healthfully Heather
Designed by Brooke Lawson