The collagen + candida connection you need to know about
Collagen is all the rage these days. Companies are making it easier and more inviting for us to ingest this claimed “fountain of youth” in drinks, chews, and powders, while hopes of youthfulness, minimizing lines and wrinkles, pain relief, and good gut health dance in our heads.
We have long known the benefits of Bifidus and Lactobacillus plantarum as absolute superstars when it comes to helping boost digestive health and immunity.
They also have another “superpower” in helping to degrade oxalates, which can wreak havoc on some without even knowing it.
We always recommend our GI Distress Relief probiotic (containing Bifidus) and Veggie Culture Starter (containing L. plantarum) as great places to start for those with gut and oxalate issues.
With anything that is the “latest and greatest,” we always remind people to take heed and remember this: Everything can have a front and a back to it.
Yes, collagen can be good. However, the Principle of Uniqueness comes into play here. What works for one may not work for all. So, if you’re a big fan of collagen and are consuming it often, then you’ll want to know why we’re sending out this word of caution.
What is collagen? The different types, explained
Collagen is the single most abundant protein in the body. According to the research, 90 percent of the collagen in the body consists of types I, II, and III collagen.1
Collagen production decreases with age, and because of certain gene variants and without proper nutrition, its production can decline even quicker, even if you’re young.2
There are many types of collagen, but there are three more commonly known types that you may be hearing about when it comes to researching collagen supplements:
- Type I collagen, the most abundant type present in the body, is found in the bone, dermis, tendon, ligaments, and cornea.
- Type II collagen is found in cartilage, the vitreous body of the eye, and the thick fluid within the disks of the spine.
- And type III collagen is found in the skin, vessel wall, and reticular fibers of most connective tissue (lungs, liver, spleen, etc.).
The Body Ecology program has been helping people conquer systemic candida infections for decades. Download your free guide to Understanding Candida.
So, where do you get collagen from?
Collagen can be taken as a supplement (pill or powder form), but it can also be obtained from the foods you eat:
- Beef products include bovine collagen, which is a type I and type III collagen and is rich in certain amino acids, like proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline.
Specifically, foods that contain gelatin, like a mineral-rich bone broth, provide collagen. While bone broth can have some good health benefits and has been found to help many in healing the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, for some, the combination of collagen and candida has been known to generate an accumulation of oxalates in the body.3,4 Read more here on whether this may be affecting you.
- You can also get collagen from fish. Marine collagen contains primarily type I collagen, is highly bioavailable, and has been shown to help reduce wrinkles, signs of aging, and skin sagging.5 Marine collagen is good for pescatarians or those who avoid red meat.
When sourced via sustainable fisheries or from the wild, marine collagen is sustainable with little negative impact on the environment.
- Vegan collagen is available in a genetically modified form or as individual amino acid supplements. You can also incorporate foods rich in amino acids, like natto, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, and quinoa, into your diet.
When supplementing with collagen, it’s important to be aware of how the different types affect each other.
If type II is taken with type I and type III, it may not be as absorbable, so it’s advised to take it by itself. For example, you don’t want to take type II (chicken) collagen with type I or type III (bovine) collagen.
And have you heard of hydrolyzed collagen? Some don’t know whether to buy a supplement or powder that’s hydrolyzed. But we think it could be beneficial because research shows it to be easier for the body to digest/use since the protein is broken down.6
Hydrolyzed collagen also contains bioactive peptides. A peptide is a string of amino acids that is too small to be called a protein. In the body, peptides are often signaling molecules. They play an important role in the hormonal system.
The oxalate + collagen connection to be aware of
Collagen is an important building block to optimal health, but at certain times, collagen may cause an accumulation of oxalates. Oxalates, along with their acidic form of oxalic acid, are organic acids that derive from three primary sources: food and drink, metabolic functioning, and the elevated presence of funguses, such as penicillium, aspergillus, and Candida albicans yeast.4
Thinking you’re eating a healthy diet, you wouldn’t even consider that foods like spinach, berries, or sweet potatoes are high in oxalates — but they are. These high-oxalate foods may be unknowingly causing problems that are tough to diagnose.
Many don’t even know that oxalates have a lot to do with systemic candida infections.
Candida yeast produces an enzyme, collagenase, that may transform collagen into oxalate crystals. Yes, bone broth can support gut healing, but collagen (whether natural or supplemented) in the diet combined with an overgrowth of candida may elevate oxalates to high levels — potentially causing stones to form in the body and leading to various symptoms, including pain.8,9 Remember, everything truly has a front and a back.
How to control oxalates to reduce oxalate stones
If you see signs that suggest you may have high levels of oxalates, here are some ways to naturally control your oxalate intake and the effects it may have on you:
- Avoid high-oxalate foods, especially if you have candida.
- Drink plenty of water. Adding lemons and lime juice is a must. They are high in citrate, which blocks the formation of stones.10
- Increase the amount of naturally occurring calcium in your diet by eating it in food. Milk kefir is a good choice if you can tolerate dairy.
- Limit your salt intake to less than 1/8th teaspoon per meal. Use only high-quality sea salt, like those from Selina Naturally. And avoid salt found in processed foods. Too much sodium may cause the kidneys to excrete calcium into your urine, which may combine with the oxalates and create stones.11
- Try not to eat too much animal protein. An 80/20 regimen truly is best for optimal digestion. Surprisingly, too much protein tends to contribute to oxalate stones (so carnivore dieters, beware!).12 Excess animal protein lowers levels of citrate in the bloodstream (and citrate blocks the formation of stones).13 Animal protein also creates uric acid, which is another cause of stones.14
Both Bifidus (Bifidobacterium) and Lactobacillus plantarum show promising results when it comes to degrading oxalates.15 So, by adding these stellar probiotics to your diet, they may provide the benefits of oxalate reduction and give a huge boost to your entire digestive tract.
- 1. Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al. Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. New York: W. H. Freeman; 2000. Section 22.3, Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix.
- 2. Ricard-Blum S. (2011). The collagen family. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology, 3(1), a004978. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a004978.
- 3. Frasca, G., Cardile, V., Puglia, C., Bonina, C., Bonina, F. (2012). Gelatin tannate reduces the proinflammatory effects of lipopolysaccharide in human intestinal epithelial cells. Clinical and experimental gastroenterology, 5, 61–67. doi:10.2147/CEG.S28792.
- 4. Takeuchi H, Konishi T, Tomoyoshi T. Detection by light microscopy of Candida in thin sections of bladder stone. Urology. (1989) Dec;34(6):385-7.
- 5. Salvatore L, Gallo N, Natali ML, Campa L, Lunetti P, Madaghiele M, Blasi FS, Corallo A, Capobianco L, Sannino A. Marine collagen and its derivatives: Versatile and sustainable bio-resources for healthcare. Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl. 2020 Aug;113:110963. doi: 10.1016/j.msec.2020.110963. Epub 2020 Apr 17. PMID: 32487384.
- 6. León-López A, Morales-Peñaloza A, Martínez-Juárez VM, Vargas-Torres A, Zeugolis DI, Aguirre-Álvarez G. Hydrolyzed Collagen-Sources and Applications. Molecules. 2019;24(22):4031. Published 2019 Nov 7. doi:10.3390/molecules24224031.
- 8. Takeuchi, H., Konishi, T., and Tomoyoshi T. “Observation on fungi within urinary stones.” Hinyokika Kiyo vol. 33 (5), 1987. pp. 658-661.
- 9. Sarma AV, Foxman B, Bayirli B, Haefner H, Sobel JD. Epidemiology of vulvar vestibulitis syndrome: an exploratory case-control study. Sex Transm Infect. 1999 Oct;75(5):320-6.
- 10. Finkielstein, V. A., Goldfarb, D. S. (2006). Strategies for preventing calcium oxalate stones. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 174(10), 1407–1409. doi:10.1503/cmaj.051517.
- 11. Antonio Nouvenne, Tiziana Meschi, Beatrice Prati, Angela Guerra, Franca Allegri, Giuseppe Vezzoli, Laura Soldati, Giovanni Gambaro, Umberto Maggiore, Loris Borghi, Effects of a low-salt diet on idiopathic hypercalciuria in calcium-oxalate stone formers: a 3-mo randomized controlled trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 91, Issue 3, March 2010, Pages 565–570, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.28614.
- 12. W.G. Robertson, P.J. Heyburn, M. Peacock, et al. The effects of high animal protein intake on the risk of calcium stone formation in the urinary tract Clin Sci, 57 (1979), pp. 285-288.
- 13. Maalouf, N. M., Moe, O. W., Adams-Huet, B., & Sakhaee, K. (2011). Hypercalciuria associated with high dietary protein intake is not due to acid load. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 96(12), 3733–3740. doi:10.1210/jc.2011-1531.
- 14. Gibson T, Rodgers AV, Simmonds HA, Court-Brown F, Todd E, Meilton V. A controlled study of diet in patients with gout. Ann Rheum Dis 1983;42:123-127.
- 15. Abratt VR, Reid SJ. Oxalate-degrading bacteria of the human gut as probiotics in the management of kidney stone disease. Adv Appl Microbiol. 2010;72:63-87. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2164(10)72003-7.