Peptides are getting a lot of attention for many of their purported health benefits, but what exactly are they? First, let’s take a look at what peptides are and what are some of their uses!
In scientific terms, peptides are amino acid chains closely related to proteins. The only significant difference between a peptide and a protein is how many amino acids are chained together. Therefore, you can think of them as smaller versions of proteins. Right now, a lot of cosmetic products are made with peptides, as well as an increasing number of health and wellness products. People like to use them for their benefits when it comes to skin health, which is why you find peptides in so many facial creams.
As medical companies conduct more research into peptides, there is a lot of good data coming from tests on animal subjects as to how peptides can help with overall health and treat specific conditions. So let’s discover more about what peptides do.
The Peptide Basics
Peptides, again, are short strings of amino acids. They usually consist of anywhere between 2-50 amino acids. Anything more prolonged, and you’re firmly in protein territory. Peptides are commonly referred to as the building blocks of proteins. When peptides come together, they form proteins. They’re usually more accessible for the body to absorb than longer amino acid chains, which makes them an attractive ingredient in many different products. They also do a great job of soaking into your skin as well as internal organ systems like your digestive system for immediate effect.
Peptides occur both naturally and synthetically. Now, scientists can create many different peptides in labs, but they are also in products we use every day. For example, peptides are found in milk, fish, eggs, seeds, oats, wheat, and soy.
What’s most interesting currently are bioactive peptides or peptides that directly impact health, such as inflammation in the body, based on what specific amino acid sequence they have inside them.
As of now, most of the research into the health benefits of peptides has been done on animal models. As with other medical studies, research into how peptides affect mice and rats is a good indicator of how things will play out with other test subjects. Still, the results are early, and though there are some very established peptides on the market, a lot of this is cutting-edge science.
Here are some of the benefits of peptides and how they work (again, mainly in animal models)
Improved Healing Timelines
Doctors and other medical personnel are always looking for ways to treat patients better and faster. Indeed, recovering from a sprained ankle or a major surgery is never fun. For the most part, people want to get back on their feet and move again. Collagen, which is a popular peptide on the market in beauty products, as previously stated, may also improve wound healing. Collagen is one of a group of bioactive peptides that reduces inflammation and almost has the same effects as an antioxidant. Lowering inflammation is known to improve the time the body needs to heal.
Regulating Sleep Cycles
Sermorelin is a popular peptide that has shown to be effective in animal models when it comes to the regulation of sleep cycles. It’s a big deal, mainly because we know how important sleep is to overall health. Sermorelin helps augment orexin in the brain, which is primarily responsible for signalizing to regulate sleep cycles. Test subjects that were given Sermorelin slept longer and experienced higher-quality sleep.
In tests with peptides done on rats, the subjects administered specific peptides showed a lower preference for fatty and unhealthy foods that they previously enjoyed. They also ate less food overall when compared to the control group. The peptide Melanotan 2 specifically showed effects similar to the hormone leptin, which is often referred to as the “satiety hormone.” The animals with Melanotan 2 simply ignored fatty foods when they ate them almost exclusively before.