You want a healthy immune system so that you can live your best life. But these days it seems like your immune system is dealing with a lot. Between the common cold, seasonal flu and even more serious viruses that seem to pop up, your immune system is stretched pretty thin already.
So, you may be wondering how to keep your immune system healthy. Of course, the basics like a healthy diet, regular exercise, sleep and stress management will always be important. However, there are a few additional things that you could be doing to strengthen the immune system further. Taking colostrum can support your immune system; helping it function at its best.
What is Colostrum?
Colostrum has been around literally since the first baby drank their mother’s milk. Towards the end of pregnancy and during the first few days after giving birth, female mammals produce liquid called colostrum, designed to boost the immune system of newborns. Colostrum is packed full of immune boosting antibodies, hormones and growth factors that can essentially set the framework for the baby’s immune function throughout life and help prevent disease and illness.
The antibodies found in colostrum, called immunoglobulins, are referred to as IgA, IgG, and IgM in mammals. Colostrum is very rich in protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, but contains lower amounts of carbohydrates or lactose than normal milk. The most important bioactive components in colostrum are hormones, growth factors, cytokines and antimicrobial factors.
The antibodies in colostrum provide passive immunity to the newborn, while growth factors stimulate the development of the gut and nervous system. The goal is that when colostrum is given to a newborn infant, the mother’s entire immune system is passed along to provide the first protection against pathogens and help build a healthy immune system. The colostrum helps protect fragile newborns from illnesses it might encounter during its entire life.
Colostrum and Immunity
Bovine colostrum has been used for thousands of years to help people with immunocompromised diseases, like autoimmune disease. It was actually the first oral vaccine given to polio patients.
Modern science has been able to identify the reasons why colostrum for immune support is so powerful. Although many have studied colostrum, the immune boosting property was first noted by Henry Sherwood Lawrence in 1949. He found that the transfer factors, such as lactoferrin and growth factors in colostrum help modulate the recipient’s immune system, so that it can learn to recognize specific pathogens, helping it act faster to fight illness.
Additionally, the higher concentration of immunoglobulins binds to antigens to remove them from the body. For example, lactoferrin, an abundant protein component of colostrum, binds to iron. This binding makes iron less available for use by bacteria and other pathogenic microorganisms, including fungi and viruses, which need iron to grow and survive. It basically “starves” the pathogenic bacteria of a nutrient they need. Since iron regulation is essential for normal growth it is a key aspect for controlling the advancement of diseases in the body.
Lactoferrin’s ability to regulate iron also influences T-cell, neutrophil, and monocyte proliferation – all essential components of the immune response. Lactoferrin therefore strengthens the immune system while weakening the pathogen, helping your body ward off any unwanted infection.
This is just one example of how colostrum boosts the immune system helping your body stay healthy and successfully fight off any disease it comes across.
Who Can Benefit From Colostrum?
Anyone can benefit from colostrum for immune support – whether you have a healthy immune system or find yourself constantly plagued with the latest illness that pops up. However, there are a few specific groups that may benefit from the immune boosting property of colostrum.
Colostrum for Kids
Children can benefit greatly from the use of colostrum for immune support. On average children get sick with cold and flu bugs 6 times per year! Once they start school all bets are off – if you are a parent you know that trying to keep your child healthy between the months of October through March is a huge feat. Anything to boost their immune system and prevent them from getting sick is beneficial.
A 2016 study found that supplementation with bovine colostrum significantly decreased the incidence of respiratory illness and risk of hospitalization in children who were chronically sick. In this study, 160 children between the ages of 1 and 6 with chronic respiratory infections or diarrhea received a bovine colostrum supplement for 4 weeks. The frequency of illness and hospitalizations was assessed for 24 weeks.
The study found that the total number of infections decreased from an average of 8.6 to 5.7 in 6 months. Total number of hospitalizations also decreased significantly Researchers believed the impact of the colostrum was related to its ability to neutralize toxins, its antimicrobial effects, and ability to reduce inflammation and promote integrity in the gut.
If you are a parent, you may have tried all kinds of things to help your children healthy – like get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, cut back on sugar, but if you want to help boost immune function naturally, colostrum may help ward off those coughs and sniffles and help maintain a healthy immune system.
Colostrum for Adults- Immunity in Athletes
Athletes have found numerous advantages when including a colostrum supplement in their fitness routine. Strenuous, endurance exercise can depress the immune system, putting athletes at risk for respiratory illnesses which can damper performance.
A 2010 study looked at stress-induced immunodepression, like that found in athletes. They found that the use of a colostrum supplement sped up illness recovery time and prevented a decrease in immune function common in elite athletes. The results of this study suggest that 4 weeks of colostrum supplementation limits the immunosuppressive effects caused by a prolonged physical stressor, such as exercise.
Endurance training can increase intestinal permeability which may contribute to the development of gastrointestinal symptoms in some athletes. A study done by the American Physiological Society looked at the effects of strenuous exercise on gut permeability and heat stroke partially caused by toxins entering through the gut. They found that intense exercise increases gut permeability by as much as 2.5 times, but when subjects were supplemented with colostrum their system had an 80 percent decrease in permeability.
Including colostrum in a training program helps athletes recover faster from hard work-outs by supplying the body with powerful immunoglobulins to support the immune system and keep the athlete performing at the highest possible level.
Colostrum for Adults- Gut Health
Just like the results found in the study of sick children and colostrum supplementation, the same benefits can be seen in adults for preventing or treating digestive ailments.
The antibodies and bioactive proteins, like lactoferrin, have been found to help prevent diarrhea caused by viruses and bacteria. A 2011 study of adults with HIV found that supplementation with colostrum decreased the frequency of diarrhea by 21% when used in combination with an anti-diarrhea medication. The combination worked better than just the traditional medication alone.
But colostrum doesn’t just help the gut when you are sick, it can also help keep you healthy, preventing you from becoming ill. Bovine colostrum helps strengthen the gut wall, decreases intestinal permeability and stimulates the growth of digestive cells. Supplementation with colostrum can decrease gut permeability by up to 80%.
The immunity begins in the gut. Immune cells line the digestive tract to fight off any pathogen or toxin that may break through. When the gut is permeable, meaning bacteria or partially digested food particles can seep through, the immune system remains on high alert. An immune system that is constantly activated can eventually start attacking the body’s own tissues leading to autoimmune disease.
Additionally, being unable to adequately digest and absorb nutrients in food, leads to poor nutritional status which exacerbates immune dysfunction. A healthy immune system starts with a healthy gut. Colostrum for adults and kids alike can help maintain gut health and powerful immunity.
What Kind of Colostrum Should I Buy?
When looking for a colostrum supplement, make sure you buy an all-natural, grass-fed product such as Bioactive Colostrum™. The cows that produce our all-natural colostrum are disease, pesticide, chemical, and hormone-treatment-free and non-GMO. Colostrum not responsibly sourced can contain heavy metals, pesticides or other harmful ingredients that can negatively impact the immune system. Therefore, it is critical to choose your colostrum supplement carefully.
Look on the label, the only ingredient in a colostrum for immune support should be colostrum. Stay away from artificial sweeteners and fillers, these are unnecessary and could have undesirable health consequences. Our all-natural Well Wisdom Bioactive Colostrum™ can be mixed into a protein shake, with your favorite beverage (milk, water, etc.) or you can also place it directly into your mouth and chew it.
So, if you want a healthy immune system, find yourself (or your kids) catching every bug and germ, or want to help support your body during strenuous exercise – give colostrum a try.
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