Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
July 25, 2021
The first food which mammals take into their mouth is mother’s milk. And the first part of mother’s milk is colostrum, which has a rich golden color.
Colostrum gives power to the gut and assists in creating a robust immune system. A healthy gut and robust immune system are critical for overall health and mouth health.
Human babies who breastfeed benefit significantly from colostrum. And colostrum can work way beyond breastfeeding to support a balanced gut microbiome and to strengthen the immune system in adults. It also can support thymus function, reduce signs of aging, improve digestive health, heal wounds, reduce inflammation, and improve muscle tone.
What is Colostrum
Colostrum is the breast fluid which moms produce at the end of pregnancy and shortly after birth. Moms will produce colostrum exclusively for about 24 hours postpartum before they produce milk. It is a nutrient-dense superfood.
Colostrum contains many vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Some additional compounds unique to colostrum include:
Immunoglobulins (IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, IgM): These are the primary immune factors (i.e., antibodies) in colostrum.
PRPs (Proline-rich Polypeptides): These proteins help regulate the thymus gland, which is the body’s central command for the immune system. PRPs can both (1) stimulate a weakened immune system and (2) balance an overactive immune system, as in autoimmune diseases.
Lactoferrin: This is an iron-binding protein with antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and many other properties. Lactoferrin has been used in the treatment of infections as well as diseases such as cancer, HIV, herpes, and chronic fatigue.
Glycoproteins: These are protease and trypsin inhibitors, which protect the immune and growth factors in colostrum from destruction by the digestive juices in the stomach and intestinal tract.
Lactalbumins: These proteins may be highly effective against numerous forms of cancer and viruses. They also can raise brain serotonin activity, reduce cortisol concentration, and improve mood under stress.
Cytokines, Interleukins, Interferon, and Lymphokines: These chemicals are involved in cell-to-cell communication, antiviral and anti-tumor activity, and regulation of immune responses.
Lysozyme: This can protect the body from bacterial infections
Epithelial Growth Factor (EGF): EGF is instrumental in protecting and maintaining healthy skin.
Insulin-like Growth Factor I and II (IGF-I & IGF-II): IGF I & II are the most abundant growth factors in colostrum. They affect how the body uses fat, protein, and sugar. IGF-I can stimulate the repair and growth of DNA and RNA, which can assist anti-aging. IGF-I also can help increase lean muscle mass as well as regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Transforming Growth Factors A & B (TGF A & B): TGF stimulates the proliferation of cells in connective tissue and assists in the formation of bone and cartilage. It can help repair tissue including the lining of the gut.
Platelet-Derived Growth Factor (PDGF): PDGF can assist with cell division in connective tissue, smooth muscle, and fibroblasts. It also assists in neuron survival and regeneration.
Colostrum is not species-specific. Bovine and human colostrum are similar in composition and contain many of the same nutrients. Bovine colostrum is well-researched for human efficacy and has been shown to be highly bioavailable and nutritionally intact. Therefore, bovine colostrum can be an excellent whole food to include in our diet to improve our wellness.
Two major benefits we can derive from including bovine colostrum in our diet are the support of a robust immune system and the support of a healthy gut.
Bovine colostrum enhances the immune response. The immune-supportive effects of colostrum are mostly due to its high concentration of lactoferrin and immunoglobulins. But colostrum also includes cytokines (which improve communication between cells) and proline-rich polypeptides (which encourages growth of white blood cells and reduces excessive oxidative stress).
In a 2011 study, colostrum supplementation was able to strengthen the gut wall and decrease “leaky gut”. In addition, colostrum can improve the diversity of the gut microbiome and reduce the levels of LPS (lipopolysaccharides) which could leak into the bloodstream.
How to Take Colostrum
Since bovine colostrum contains only minimal levels of lactose, some individuals with lactose intolerance may be able to take it.
Colostrum can be taken at any time of day. It is best to take without food. Generally, it is marketed as a desiccated powder in a gelatin capsule. You could remove the powder from the capsule and eat the powder. But if you tried to mix the powder in a liquid, it would clump. However, I have eaten the powder and enjoy it. To me, it tastes like dehydrated ice cream – Yum! However, my wife does not agree with me. She hates the taste.
One company, Kion, provides a bovine colostrum that is soluble in liquids and is not in capsule form. As a matter of fact, colostrum is quickly absorbed by the soft tissues in the mouth and will get into the bloodstream immediately. So, it might be best to swish and then swallow the colostrum. In this way, you will get immediate blood levels of the colostrum as it permeates the mucosal tissues of the mouth and passes into the circulation. Then when you swallow, it will go directly into your gut.
The best quality colostrum comes from organic, grass-fed, grass-finished pastured cattle which have not received any chemicals whatsoever.
The product I take is from Heart & Soil, a company started by Paul Saladino, MD. The product is called ImmunoMilk. A daily dose of six capsules provides 3 grams of colostrum. I open the capsules and eat the powder.
Because of my most recent research into the vast benefits of bovine colostrum, I’ve included it as a whole food supplement in my Unconventional Cancer Protocols to support my gut microbiome and health. An article published in 2020 discusses the potential benefits of colostrum for cancer patients.
As you may remember, I put together my 10 Unconventional Cancer Protocols to assist my body in recreating a robust immune system to help heal from incurable bone marrow cancer.
Check out my training on the Better Belly Blueprint! You can watch it HERE.