Why I value collagen in my daily diet for ankylosing spondylitis

Daily supplementation may help reduce joint inflammation

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by Jemma Newman |

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I start most days with a delicious berry smoothie for breakfast. Even after five years of eating a daily smoothie since being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), I’m still not sick of it.

One reason I choose a smoothie is because I can easily add collagen powder into the mix, which I believe can help with my AS joint inflammation. Plus, a thick smoothie is like having ice cream for breakfast — and, honestly, who wouldn’t love that?

Collagen is a major component of our bodies and the foundation of connective tissue. As the Arthritis Foundation explains, “Collagen is the glue that holds your body together. This critical protein gives structure and support to connective tissues, including your skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, and the cartilage that protects your joints.”

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The elimination diet that reduced my nighttime AS agony

I started consuming collagen powder early in my journey with AS. In the first few years of struggling with this disease, I was extremely frustrated at the lack of control I had over my symptoms. The burning ache in my ribs, spine, and sacroiliac joints would ease slightly during the day with movement, but would rear its ugly head at night and leave me unable to sleep after 2 a.m.

AS turned my life upside down. Without more than a few hours of sleep for months on end, and unable to perform basic tasks like vacuuming or lifting my young kids into the car, I felt physically and mentally broken.

An MRI showed that my AS was not in an advanced stage, so I didn’t qualify for biologics, even though I was quite distressed at the pain and discomfort I was in every day. The only medical assistance my rheumatologist could offer was nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. Although they helped the pain, I worried that taking the medication for years would affect my stomach and kidneys. I vowed to start looking for alternate therapies that might ease my AS symptoms without causing adverse side effects.

Encouraging research

Late one night, while deep in research for potential natural therapies that might help me, I stumbled across the idea of collagen supplementation. Reading an article by Versus Arthritis, I was intrigued by a comment that some studies have suggested that collagen hydrolysate may help with “reducing the effects of inflammatory arthritis.”

Ankylosing spondylitis, also known as axial spondyloarthritis, is an inflammatory disease that can affect many joints in the body, though these vary from person to person. It can also affect cartilage and the places where ligaments and tendons attach to bones.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health notes on its website that a collagen supplement “can improve joint mobility and decrease joint pain,” and references a study that suggests collagen hydrolysate “might help patients affected by joint disorders.” I was instantly interested, and decided to try supplementing with collagen hydrolysate myself.

I had no qualms about adding a daily dose of collagen to my diet in the hope that it might help my joints tolerate the inflammation caused by AS. Of course, you should always talk to your doctor before introducing any supplements or vitamins into your routine, but taking a small, daily amount of collagen as a supplement is reported to be well tolerated. As UCLA Health notes, “Research shows that taking 2.5 to 15 grams daily of hydrolyzed collagen is safe. A smaller dose benefits your joints and skin.”

I’m absolutely delighted by my current disease state, as I have almost zero joint pain and nighttime stiffness. Though I don’t attribute this wonderful period of low ankylosing spondylitis activity entirely to daily collagen, I do think that maintaining a regular routine of daily movement, supplemented with collagen and magnesium, underpinned by an incredibly clean no-starch diet, has helped immensely in reducing my joint inflammation.

My simple collagen smoothie recipe:

Add the following to a smoothie maker or blender and whiz until combined:

  • 1 cup of frozen berries
  • ⅓-½ cup of coconut water
  • 1 tablespoon of collagen hydrolysate powder (I use Nutraviva)
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla protein powder (I use a pure whey powder with minimal additives, as I follow the no-starch diet for AS)
  • Optional additions: Greek yogurt, cream, honey, chia seeds, cacao powder.

Note: Ankylosing Spondylitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ankylosing Spondylitis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ankylosing spondylitis.


George avatar


I think collagen works for me too. I've tried it multiple times, decades apart, and even once again, about a year ago. Soon after I believed it was working, it started making me sick. Repeatedly confirmed - as with a large myriad of things that make me sick - almost always when I first think something is making me sick, I'm right. It's obvious my gut biome is messed up and virtually always has been. I take coq10, calcium, and magnesium, all of which should be good for bones. Interestingly, my current diet and gut has a tremendous affect on what magnesium I can take and need. My neck joint (lower mid back side) problem was greatly helped with oral hyaluronic acid - it took a few months to kick in. So I'm a very big believer for hyaluronic acid for me. I read we with AS have thick synovial fluid - makes sense because my knees require running or cycling - I believe the cartilage in my knees won't absorb the synovial fluid (lubricant) without rapid movement. It's truly unbelievable, yet believable, that the gut is the source of so much havoc through the entire body. By the way, I'm quite surprised to hear that serious or advanced damage as shown by an MRI is required for biologics. This makes no sense to me because it takes a tremendous history of AS for it to show up on bone. Any bone evidence of AS along with patient complaints of serious symptoms is proof of full-blown active AS. Not everyone can control AS with diet, nor does the medical establishment actively recommend dietary change let alone low starch, and NSAIDs aren't going to stop progression.


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