What You Need to Know About Collagen and its Health Benefits
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein made up of amino acids. Your body uses amino acids as building blocks and those found in collagen make up a large percentage of the total amino acids found in your body. Collagen is vital in building connective tissue and plays a huge role in your skin and joint health as a result. A lesser known benefit is the improvement in gut health that can occur when you add collagen to your diet. This happens, in part, because collagen can regulate excess gastric juices, reducing inflammation and allowing your stomach lining to begin to heal. That same “building block” that can repair skin and joints is what allows your stomach lining to improve quickly.
While collagen is naturally occurring in our bodies, the supplementation is usually derived from animal proteins.
Why I Choose to Take it
When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer four years ago, I decided to take the route of alternative therapy, foregoing surgery. When I made that decision, I decided to follow a plant-based diet. About two years ago, I started having some symptoms that worried me a bit, so I went to my doctor with my concerns. After running tests that came back normal, the doctor concluded that I was fine. Even so, the symptoms persisted. Digestive issues, shortness of breath, and a scratchy feeling in my throat were becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
My husband, a family medical provider, urged me to have an endoscopy because he felt my symptoms were congruent with those that usually come with GERD. My feelings on the subject were that since he was not an oncologist, and he was “just” my husband, that he was probably wrong. Isn’t it funny how we can discount the wisdom of someone close to us, simply because they’re so familiar to us?
Well, after two years with no answers, I decided to follow his suggestion and have the endoscopy. The findings revealed gut issues that were contributing to my symptoms. At that point, a wellness advocate and dear friend of mine suggested I try collagen supplementation in an effort to heal my gut.
After doing extensive research on collagen and its effects on the digestive system, I decided to give it a try. Now, as I mentioned, I have been following a plant-based diet since my original diagnosis and, as a result, was hesitant to try collagen. Not only that, but there was conflicting research on using collagen when you are dealing with cancer.
Collagen and Cancer
Many cancer treatments negatively impact the immune system in an effort to eradicate the cancer itself. In addition to that, when fighting any illness, immune system health is vital. Because our immune system originates in the gut, having a healthy gut is essential. Bone broth has been credited with improving gut health for centuries and has been used in a holistic way throughout multiple cultures. While many question using an animal-based food during cancer treatment, as with anything, balance is key. You would not want to overload your diet with animal products, eating steak daily. However, adding this supporting element to an already healthy diet has produced amazing results for me.
I want to stress, though, how important it is to make sure that the collagen is coming from a pure source. Just as you wouldn’t eat steak daily, you also wouldn’t want collagen produced from the same quality of beef as a Big Mac. That’s why I use Vital Proteins Collagen. After researching various brands of collagen, I chose Vital Proteins, because they source their collagen from very high-quality, grass fed beef. Not only is it a pure and beneficial source of collagen, it dissolves easily into different beverages and is an easy thing to incorporate into my daily routine.
Immediate and Noticeable Benefits
I must admit, while I was hopeful it would help, I was very surprised by the immediate improvements I saw in my digestion. It was almost as if my body was absorbing those missing nutrients just as quickly as I could consume them. Having been taking collagen for two weeks now, I can feel my stomach healing itself. I may have had leaky gut syndrome. The best way I can describe the result is that I almost feel as if I am glowing from the inside and my symptoms, the ones that had been plaguing me for two years, are dissipating. My digestion is processing food in the way it should and I feel amazing.
I realize that people have mixed feelings, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and have decided to follow a plant-based diet, as I have. The best advice I can leave you with is this: We all have intuition. Our bodies are intelligent, they know what we need, and ultimately, we have to yield ourselves to that. For me, having seen so much positive improvement in the short time I have been taking it, I can feel certain that my decision to take collagen was right for me. It may not be right for you. Read the research, learn the facts. And then, once you have done that, tune into that still, small voice inside. If you truly listen to what your body is telling you, you can’t go wrong.