Medically reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD, PhD
Collagen supplements help keep digestion in check. Better digestion keeps your bowel movements regular while also keeping your gut healthy and strong.
You’re not alone if you’ve seen a rise in interest in collagen supplements among beauty industry customers. Collagen can do everything, from improving the quality of your skin and hair to guaranteeing bone health to rebuilding tissues in the event of harm.
A study titled “Effect of a high-collagen peptide diet on the gut microbiota and short-chain fatty acid metabolism” was published in the Journal of functional foods in December 2020. According to it, users of collagen supplements noticed that since they started taking the pills, their bowels were more regular. This effect of collagen may help with digestive disorders like diarrhea, constipation, leaky gut, etc.
Let’s delve deeper into how collagen benefits your bowel movements.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein responsible for the repair and protection of the majority of the substances in the body. This protein is produced by the body in the form of endogenous collagen. It is also available in the form of external supplements, known as exogenous collagen. Both kinds serve similar functions, and their fibrils are extremely important for the skin.
Role of Collagen in Gut Health
Collagen is composed of proteins. It is present in the skin, bones, and connective tissue that makes up the body, including the digestive tract. A study titled “Proline Precursors and Collagen Synthesis: Biochemical Challenges of Nutrient Supplementation and Wound Healing” was published in The Journal of Nutrition in October 2017. It showed the benefits of collagen supplements in healing.
- Benefits of collagen components
Collagen contains essential amino acids, including glutamine, glycine, and proline, which are significant for intestinal health. Glutamine provides fuel for the proper functioning of the cells lining the intestines. Glycine and proline are amino acids that help develop and grow the connective tissue of the digestive system.
- Heals leaky gut syndrome
The healthy connective tissue of the gut prevents the weakening of the intestinal lining. A weak intestinal lining can become porous, allowing bacteria and food particles to slip through it. It results in inflammation and leaky gut syndrome.
If you have a leaky gut, collagen supplements may be of great use. A study titled “Collagen peptides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatory Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions” was published in the Food and Function Journal in 2017. The study revealed collagen heals leaky gut by enhancing tight cellular junctions.
- Benefits in IBS
Amino acids found in collagen reduce irritation in IBS and acid reflux. Further, they help fill any gaps in the small intestine produced by external toxins, waste, and dangerous bacteria. This helps heal the lining of the stomach and intestines, which aids in managing IBS along with constipation and bloating.
- Hydrophilic property of collagen
As a hydrophilic molecule, collagen can help optimize the interaction of food with water and acidic molecules found in the gut. After taking collagen supplements, the body naturally pulls from all available fluids to help food flow through the digestive tract.
- Assimilation of undigested food
Collagen peptides assist in the assimilation of undigested food with stomach acid by increasing the quantity of fluid drawn by the body.
Proper hydration, with water-loving characteristics of collagen, can alleviate the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea in individuals with stomach-related disorders.
Effect of Collagen on Bowel Movements
Collagen improves digestion by helping break down the food and easing its movement through the intestines. Further, it makes bowel movements regular, preventing bloating from undigested meals.
Collagen is a great complementary supplement to maintain good gut health due to its gut-healing properties. Collagen supplements should be consumed with a balanced diet to realize their full benefits. However, any dietary intolerances that cause discomfort should be avoided. These intolerances play a role in gastrointestinal problems.
Gut-healing foods include beneficial bacteria, natural probiotics, and fibers. Adding these to your diet in addition to collagen helps repair the gut and promote natural digestion.
Side Effects of Collagen Supplements
While studies support collagen’s beneficial effect on the stomach, it is important to take note of possible side effects.
Although there are almost no reports of gastrointestinal side effects among collagen users, some complained of diarrhea or constipation after using them. It could be due to:
- Interaction with other prescription medicines can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Discomfort can be due to additives used in a collagen supplement. It may cause bloating, nausea, and frequent bowel movements.
- Collagen comes from connective tissue in chickens, cows, fish, and egg membranes. If you have food allergies, using collagen supplements can cause stomach discomfort, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Nonetheless, because it is easy for the body to absorb collagen, it is safe to consume if you follow the dosage directions and consult your doctor.
We believe you would have found the answer to the question “Does Collagen affect bowel movements?” in this article.
The benefits of collagen are manifold. It controls bowel motions through improved digestion, produces stronger connective tissue inside the digestive tract, and provides three essential amino acids to the body. However, they should only be taken after consulting with a dietician or a doctor.
Albaugh, V. L., Mukherjee, K., & Barbul, A. (2017). Proline precursors and collagen synthesis: Biochemical challenges of nutrient supplementation and wound healing. The Journal of Nutrition, 147(11), 2011–2017. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.117.25640
Bella, J., Brodsky, B., & Berman, H. M. (1995). Hydration structure of a collagen peptide. Structure (London, England: 1993), 3(9), 893–906. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0969-2126(01)00224-6
Bolke, L., Schlippe, G., Gerß, J., & Voss, W. (2019). A collagen supplement improves skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density: Results of a randomized, placebo-controlled, blind study. Nutrients, 11(10), 2494. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102494
Chen, Q., Chen, O., Martins, I. M., Hou, H., Zhao, X., Blumberg, J. B., & Li, B. (2017). Collagen peptides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatory Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions. Food & Function, 8(3), 1144–1151. https://doi.org/10.1039/c6fo01347c
Collagen. (2021, May 26). The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/
Mei, F., Duan, Z., Chen, M., Lu, J., Zhao, M., Li, L., Shen, X., Xia, G., & Chen, S. (2020). Effect of a high-collagen peptide diet on the gut microbiota and short-chain fatty acid metabolism. Journal of Functional Foods, 75(104278), 104278. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2020.10427
Song, W., Chen, Q., Wang, Y., Han, Y., Zhang, H., & Li, B. (2019). Identification and structure-activity relationship of intestinal epithelial barrier function protective collagen peptides from Alaska Pollock skin. Marine Drugs, 17(8), 450. https://doi.org/10.3390/md1708045