Colostrum is fast becoming a popular health supplement particularly among athletes. Its properties have been revered for thousands of years across many cultures: in ancient Chinese medicine it was regarded as a vital health-giving potion, and for the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania it has long been regarded as an important part of a healthy diet.
Over the past few years it has become an increasingly popular dietary supplement for many athletes. Excess colostrum not needed by calves is now converted into a powder and added to other drinks and shakes.
Colostrum is the first milk from the mother cow 1-2 days after giving birth. This ‘first milk’ is mother nature’s wonder food for developing the microbiome in all mammals and can have a profound effect in shaping our gut and immune health. Colostrum provides an array of nutrients, immunoglobulins and signaling peptides that were uniquely designed to protect the newborn from infection, and to help train and shape the developing immune system. By consuming colostrum you can also help establish an array of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.
Excitingly there is now much research to suggest that colostrum can restore a leaky gut lining to normal levels. This of course could be crucial for anyone suffering with allergies and / or autoimmune conditions but also athletes.
After hard training and exercise our immune system can be depressed and in addition our gut is more prone to intestinal permeability and damage. During training the combination of stress and an increase in the body core temperature appears to increase the permeability of the gut wall and that in turn allows toxins into the bloodstream that wouldn’t usually be there.
One of the worst things for an athlete is having to take time out of training due to ill health or gastro problems such as ‘runners trots’. Whether you are an endurance athlete or more focused on building strength or bodybuilding, supporting recovery is essential for performance and colostrum appears to help significantly. And it seems that colostrum could also be important for building strength, supporting muscle, bone and joint health too. Great news if you want to keep fit and healthy as you age.
Recent studies indicate that colostrum can help the immune system to withstand the extra training load, and that a daily intake of colostrum over some weeks can reduce the incidence of respiratory tract infections in athletes.
So what makes colostrum so effective? Firstly, its packed with beneficial nutrients: colostrum contains immunoglobulins such as IgG, IgA, IgM; the immune modulating molecule lactoferrin; fat-soluble vitamins including retinol, tocopherol, and beta-carotene; water soluble vitamins including many B vitamins and a range of minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper and manganese. But its also an excellent source of easy to digest protein too – rich in both essential and non-essential amino acids, growth factors and commensal bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium.
The immunoglobulins in colostrum are especially impressive at combatting gut infections, including H. pylori, E. coli and various parasites and amoeba. It may also protect the gut against damage from certain medications and reduce gut inflammation making it potentially beneficial for inflammatory bowel conditions. Other studies have shown its effectiveness in combating infectious diarrhoea. Lactoferrin is one of the main proteins in colostrum can penetrate the cell wall of bacteria, which allows an antimicrobial enzyme in gastric secretions calls lysozyme to then enter the cell and cause it to burst. Together, lactoferrin and lysozyme can destroy Candida albicans.
Colostrum also provides secretory IgA which may be one of the reasons it can help reduce the risk of respiratory infections. SIgA can be depressed due to chronic stress so for most of us taking colostrum on a regular basis may have benefits for our overall health and immune system. There is also research into colostrum’s proline-rich polypeptides which may have neuro protective properties making it potentially useful in reducing the progression of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.
If you’re a keen gym goer or want to give your immune system or gut additional support then it’s worth considering colostrum as a ongoing supplement to boost health and performance.
I personally am a big fan of colostrum – it is readily available in powder form you can easily add it to a drink or simply mix with a little water. For supporting immune function, gut health and performance this natural wonder food has numerous research studies to support its use long term. Visit our shop for colostrum.