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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.

With anything that is the “latest and greatest”, I 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? 

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. Collagen production decreases with age, and because of certain gene variants  and without proper nutrition, its production declines even quicker, even if you’re young.1

There are many types of collagen, but there are three more commonly known types that you may be hearing more about when it comes to researching collagen supplements specifically:

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

Type III collagen is found in the skin, vessel wall and reticular fibers of most connective tissue (lungs, liver, spleen, etc.)

We have long known the benefits of bifidus and lactobacillus plantarum as absolute super stars when it comes boosting digestive health and immunity.  They also have another “super power” when it comes to degrading oxalates, which can wreak havoc on some without even knowing it!    We always recommend our bifidus power blend and culture starter ( containing l. plantarum) as great places to start for those with gut and oxalate issues.

Where do we get collagen from?

Collagen can be taken as a supplement (pill or powder form), but it can also be obtained from the foods we 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, also 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.2,3  Read more here on whether oxalates can be affecting you. 

You can also get collagen from fish. Marine collagen contains primarily type 1 collagen, is highly bioavailability, and has been shown to help reduce wrinkles, signs of aging, and skin elasticity. 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 also 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 collagen (chicken collagen) with type I collagen or type III (bovine collagen) collagen. 

And have you heard of hydrolyzed collagen?  Some don’t know whether to buy a supplement or powder that’s hydrolyzed, and we think it could be beneficial since research shows it to be easier for the body to digest and use since the protein is broken down.  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 its 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 think that eating foods like spinach, berries or sweet potatoes are high in oxalates – but they are!  These high-oxalates 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 help the gut heal, but collagen (whether natural or supplemented) in the diet combined with an overgrowth of candida can elevate oxalates to high levels potentially causing stones to form in the body and leading to various symptoms, including pain.5,6,7 Remember, everything truly has a front and a back to it. 

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 they may have on you. 

  1. Avoid high oxalate foods, especially if you have candida. 
  2. Drink plenty of water.  Adding lemons and lime juice is a must.  They are high in citrate, which blocks the formation of stones.8
  3. Increase the amount of naturally occurring calcium in your diet by eating it in foods.  Milk kefir is a good choice if you can tolerate dairy.  
  4. Limit your salt intake to less than 1/8th tsp per meal.  Use only high quality sea salt, like those from Selina Naturally.  And avoid salt found in processed foods. Too much sodium causes the kidneys to excrete calcium into your urine which combines with the oxalates, which may cause stones.9
  5. Try not to eat too much animal protein.  An 80/20 regimen truly is best for optimal digestion – here’s why.  Surprisingly, too much protein tends to cause oxalate stones (so carnivore dieters, beware!).10 
  6. Excess animal protein lowers levels of citrate in the bloodstream (and citrate blocks the formation of stones).11 Animal protein also creates uric acid, which is another cause of stones.12
  7. Both bifidus (bifidobacterium) and lactobacillus plantarum show promising results when it comes to degrading oxalates.13  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. 

A Key Takeaway

The Body Ecology diet has been helping people conquer systemic candida infections for decades.  A low carb diet with plenty of alkaline vegetables (while avoiding vegetables that are high in oxalates), and eating and drinking probiotic foods (like cultured vegetables, probiotic liquids and kefir) are key because they build the immune system which is a must to conquer any infection.

References

1 – Ricard-Blum S. (2011). The collagen family. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology, 3(1), a004978. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a004978

2 – 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

3 – Shaw, W.,PhD.,  ”The Green Smoothie Health Fad:  This Road to Health Hell is Paved with Toxic Oxalate Crystals.”  Great Plains Laboratory.  Visited 15 October 2019.

4 – Shaw, W., PhD., “Oxalates: test implications for yeast and heavy metals.”  Great Plains Laboratory. Visited 15 October 2019.

5 – Takeuchi, H., Konishi, T., and Tomoyoshi T. “Detection by light microscopy of Candida in thin sections of bladder stone” Urology vol. 34 (6), 1989. pp. 385-387.

6- Takeuchi, H., Konishi, T., and Tomoyoshi T. “Observation on fungi within urinary stones.” Hinyokika Kiyo vol. 33 (5), 1987. pp. 658-661.

7 – Shaw, W., PhD., “Oxalates: test implications for yeast and heavy metals.”  Great Plains Laboratory.  Visited 15 October 2019.

8 – 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

9 – “Potassium and Sodium out of Balance.”  Health.Harvard.Edu.  Visited 15 October 2019.

10- “Calcium Oxalate Stones.”  Kidney.org.  Visited 15 October 2019.

11 – 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

12 – Pendick, Daniel. “5 Steps for Preventing Kidney Stones.”  Health.Harvard.edu. Visited 15 October 2019. 

13 – 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.

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