In the fitness world, there has been a lot of buzz around protein peptides. Now, you’re starting to see the word on more and more labels of protein powders and supplements. Various peptides are being recommended for numerous health benefits, anywhere from burning fat to building muscle, to improving athletic performance. But, what exactly are peptides?
Put simply, peptides are just small proteins. But just because they are small doesn’t mean that protein peptides aren’t effective and powerful. Peptides are naturally occurring molecules that are found in all living organisms and play a crucial role in several biological systems.
Protein peptides can offer various health benefits including:
- Strengthening skin, hair and nails
- Supporting joint and bone health
- Aiding digestive issues and promote gut health
What’s the Difference Between a Protein and a Peptide?
If peptides are essentially just small proteins, then what’s the big difference between the two? Well, proteins and peptides are made of strings that are the body’s building blocks, amino acids. They are all glued together by peptide bonds. As a general rule, peptides are defined as a compound containing two or more amino acids. When it comes to the term protein, it’s usually used to refer to a large peptide molecule with a long chain of amino acids. Peptides are precursors to proteins and perform a host of vital functions in the body.
Both proteins and peptides are made from amino acids so consuming enough amino acids is vital for producing the peptides needed for proper bodily functions. There are 20 naturally-occurring amino acids which can be combined to create a huge variety of molecules. A chain of more than 50 amino acids is called a protein instead of a peptide.
As 20% of the human body is made up of protein and protein is made from amino acids, you can see why getting enough amino acids is so important. Amino acids are essential in several processes such as:
- Creating cell structure
- Storage and transport of nutrients
- Healing bones, muscles, tissue, and vital organs
The reason why protein peptides are so popular for supplements is because these protein peptides may be easier to digest than long chain amino acid strands. Peptides enable you to absorb more bioavailable amino acids quickly to cells after a workout and improve your recovery time.
Even if you aren’t big on exercise, protein peptides make it easier on your body to use the peptides for your health. Sometimes when your body has to work hard to break down a long amino acid chain, it either discards part of the nutrients or upsets your stomach.
Collagen Protein Peptides
When amino acids link together, they form a chain called an amino peptide. When peptides link together, they become the basis for all protein. One of the most crucial proteins in the body is collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the animal kingdom and plays a part in a number of essential areas including:
- Skin health
- Joint and bone health
- Strengthen skin, hair, and nails
- Digestive issues including leaky gut
Collagen peptides are small bioactive peptides. They are created through a process called enzymatically hydrolysis. Basically, the molecular bonds between individual strands of collagen have been broken down into peptides, smaller chains. Collagen peptides are also referred to as collagen hydrolysate or hydrolyzed collagen.
Generally, when buying collagen peptides powder, you’re getting hydrolyzed type-1 collagen that’s been extracted from animal hides, bones or fish scales. However, this doesn’t need to be the case as there are plant-based options available such as Sunwarriors’s Collagen Building Protein Peptides.
A collagen peptide builder gives your body the ingredients it needs to build it’s own collagen peptides easily. You can still enjoy the benefits of collagen protein peptides without it being derived from animals.
Collagen peptides are smaller, more easily digestible and a highly bioactive form of collagen, helping to renew bodily tissues like skin, bones, and joints.
It’s also been suggested that collagen peptides may act as a messenger to the cells, triggering both synthesis and reorganization of collagen fibers, supporting tissue structure. Collagen peptides are cold-water soluble, highly bioavailable and bioactive, making them ideal for dietary supplements and functional foods.
What are the Benefits of Protein Peptides?
Strengthen Skin, Hair and Nails
The most talked about protein, collagen, naturally declines as you age. It makes up about 75% of your skin and is responsible for maintaining a thick and supple appearance. However, this means that collagen is a large molecule and as such can’t penetrate the skin when applied topically from creams or serums.
This is where collagen peptides come in. The best way to feel the benefits of collagen peptides for your skin is to take a collagen peptide builder orally. Peptides can signal cells to produce more collagen and, in turn, repair damaged cells, strengthen skin, hair, and nails.
Collagen is a crucial protein that helps the skin to look youthful and retain its elasticity. In a study published in 2014, women aged 35-55 taking a collagen hydrolysate supplement showed improvement in skin elasticity within four weeks. Another study echoed these results and found that women taking a collagen hydrolysate supplement had a significant reduction in wrinkles after eight weeks.
Support Joint and Bone Health
Collagen and joint health is one of the most well-researched areas when it comes to this protein’s abilities. Healthy collagen levels are essential in maintaining body strength as you age as it plays such a major role in the connective tissues.
Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that as you age your cartilage will weaken and deteriorate. You may start to feel a little stiff or achy. Even if you’re young, being active regularly can also harm the collagen in your joints. It’s possible that upping your collagen levels may help to reduce these symptoms.
Research has found that supplementing collagen may help decrease painful symptoms in osteoarthritis. The precise biological mechanism that comes into effect from supplementing collagen remains uncertain, however, it’s believed that collagen helps to reduce inflammation. By reducing inflammation, it can help to lower painful symptoms associated with osteoarthritis as well as other joint pain.
Another study found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis reported significantly reduced joint pain and swelling after supplementing collagen. Collagen protein peptides can encourage your body to produce more collagen and support your joints, muscles, ligaments, and bones.
Aid Digestive Issues and Promote Gut Health
In addition to the skin, the gut can receive numerous health benefits from upping your collagen levels. Although research into collagen and the gut is in its infancy, emerging research suggests that specific amino acids in collagen, like glycine, may help to reduce gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation in conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
So if you believe you may have a leaky gut or experience poor digestion, taking a collagen supplement may help. It’s important to understand that collagen is in the gut’s connective tissues and helps to strengthen the protective lining of the digestive tract.
When there are gaps in the intestinal barrier, toxins, and undigested food can leak through into the body, this is known as leaky gut. Protein peptides can encourage collagen production, helping to heal leaky gut and improve digestion.
Studies have found that glycine has numerous benefits including protecting against several intestinal disorders. As well as glycine, one of collagen’s other amino acids, glutamine, can help to prevent gut inflammation and hinder oxidative stress on the intestines. Glutamine benefits any type of digestive issues from IBS to irritable bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
It’s a vital nutrient for the intestines to rebuild and repair, therefore promoting a healthy gut. One study found that glutamine reduces intestinal inflammation and can help people recover from food sensitivities.
Protein peptides are used and digested more readily by the body and as they are smaller your body doesn’t have to work so hard to break down a larger protein molecule. As with any supplements, always be sure to double check the source of the protein peptides, as with collagen it can often be animal-based. Protein peptides are growing in popularity, allowing a whole spectrum of amino acids to be delivered to the body quickly and easily, perfect for before and after a workout.
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