Does Collagen Benefit Your Immune System?
Posted August 2022
Your immune system comprises an extensive network of organs, white blood cells, proteins (antibodies), and chemicals that work together to protect you from harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi.
That said, it’s not infallible. It can get weak. It can fail to fend off pathogens. It can even mistakenly attack healthy body cells.
When all these happen, you get sick, often resulting in uncomfortable, frustrating symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, headache, nausea, and body aches. Anyone who’s ever spent an entire weekend nursing a cold that refuses to go away (honestly, who hasn’t?) would understand just how awful getting sick is.
No wonder we’re all so desperately searching for an “immune system booster”!
But … is there anything effective at "strengthening" your immune system so it gets better at fighting off viral and/or bacterial infections?
The answer is in the title. In this article, learn why adding collagen powder to your routine could decrease the number of times you find yourself sniffling, coughing, and sneezing.
What is Collagen?
What is collagen? Collagen is the main structural protein that forms the connective tissues throughout your body—from the skin to bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
As such, the following benefits of collagen supplementation (note: collagen peptides available in the market could be of bovine, marine, chicken, porcine, or ovine origins) are pretty much self-explanatory:
- Radiant, younger-looking complexion
- Thicker, luscious hair and stronger, shinier nails
- Knee and joint pain relief
- Lowered risk of cardiovascular disease (by improving flexibility in arteries)
How Collagen Improves Your Immune System
But the immune system? It doesn’t even contain collagen … right? Well, yes, it doesn’t. Still, that doesn’t mean collagen can’t benefit your immune system. Find out exactly how below.
Collagen and Sickness
In general, collagen supplementation could enhance your resistance to infections. How?
There are two mechanisms:
For the uninitiated, your antibodies are the “search” battalion of your immune system’s search-and-destroy system.
Guess what they’re made of? Protein.
That means collagen supplementation provides your body with the building blocks it needs to produce the antibodies necessary to fight off sickness.
You can find all sorts of scary pathogens in the environment.
Take your keyboard, for instance. Many studies (like this one) suggest that it’s dirtier than a toilet seat.
So what’s protecting you from all these nasties? Answer: your skin. As it turns out, your skin represents your body’s first line of defence against pathogenic microorganisms. It’s an active immune organ equipped with a whole slew of immune cells—just the dermis alone contains 12 different types (e.g., T cells, mast cells, and fibroblasts).
Collagen for Weight Loss
A large body of research shows that obesity impairs immune function.
More specifically, obesity has been shown to cause chronic, low-grade activation of some parts of the immune system. As a result, the immune system of an individual with obesity tends to overreact in the face of an infection—making them even more ill.
Take, for instance, the most extensive descriptive study of hospitalized US COVID-19 patients. It found that 77% of nearly 17,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were overweight (29%) or obese (48%).
If you’re carrying excess weight, taking steps to lose it could benefit your immune health.
And great news: collagen supplementation could help you lose weight. That’s because it helps you feel fuller for longer, increasing the likelihood that you'll eat fewer calories daily. In addition, provided you strength train, it could also help you build muscle mass, which is more metabolically active than fat (i.e., it burns more calories!)
Collagen for Gut Health
You've probably already heard of this statistic: 70% of your immune cells are housed in your gut. So, imaginably, improving your gut health would benefit your immune system.
Research wholeheartedly agrees. According to a 2020 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, patients with a greater diversity of bacterial species in the gut (FYI: the more diverse your gut microbiota, the healthier it is) were significantly more likely to survive after a stem cell transplant.
Another 2020 study published in Nature also found a positive correlation between three specific types of gut bacteria and increased blood concentrations of immune cells called neutrophils.
Okay, so how do collagen peptides come into play?
See: collagen contains the amino acid glutamine. This amino acid promotes the regeneration of epithelial cells found in your gut lining, the "hang-out" spot for gut microbes.
By promoting the health of the gut lining, collagen essentially also improves your gut health—and, in turn, your immune system. Pretty neat, right?
Collagen for Autoimmune Disorders
Remember what we said about your immune system mistakenly attacking healthy body cells? Well, that’s precisely what happens in autoimmune diseases. Examples of autoimmune diseases include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis: The immune system produces antibodies that attach to the linings of joints. Immune system cells attack the joints, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): The immune system attacks the lining of the intestines, causing uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful symptoms like diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent bowel movements, and fever.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS): The immune system attacks nerve cells, causing symptoms like pain, blindness, weakness, poor coordination, and muscle spasms.
While the exact cause of autoimmune disorders is still unknown, scientists believe that persistent inflammation may play a part.
Now, guess what? Beyond promoting gut health (which lowers inflammation), collagen also contains glycine, an amino acid with proven anti-inflammatory effects. So, it's possible that supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen peptides could lower inflammation levels in the body—potentially preventing and/or alleviating various symptoms associated with autoimmune disorders.
Your immune system keeps you healthy.
Supplementing with premium collagen peptides may benefit your immune system—and, thus, health—by: 1) enhancing your resistance to infections (it provides your body the necessary building blocks to produce antibodies and protects the integrity of your dermis), 2) helping you maintain a healthy weight, 3) promoting gut health, and 4) lowering inflammation levels.
With so many collagen supplement options available in the market, though, how would you ever choose?
To that, we say, why not look at The Collagen Co? Our premium quality collagen powder ticks all the boxes. They’re hydrolyzed. Great tasting. And, better yet, formulated with additional ingredients that work synergistically with collagen.