I want to share a really big health and beauty secret with you today– bovine colostrum. I have worked for a few nutrition and fitness experts in Los Angeles, and this stuff is used by A-list celebrities, professional athletes, and some of the wealthiest/savviest people in my area.

Naturally, this piqued my curiosity. However, I have an autoimmune disorder which makes me a huge skeptic about everything regarding health and nutrition. I always do my research before buying into the health claims of different products on the market. Here’s what I learned — my “Bovine Colostrum 101”:

What is Bovine Colostrum?

Colostrum is a fluid that is produced from a lactating mammal in the first few days following birth of her offspring. “Bovine” simply means that the colostrum in question was produced by a cow [moo!]. Colostrum is packed with high concentrations of proteins and antibodies that are passed onto a newborn to create immunities to diseases when the baby mammal’s immune system is new.

Colostrum contains vitamins, immunoglobulins, and anti-microbial peptides that are beneficial for the immune system.

What are the benefits of Bovine Colostrum?

There have been a handful of claims which suggest that taking bovine colostrum increases exercise performance and recovery in humans. From what I have researched, it seems that this happens for two main reasons.

I mentioned earlier that colostrum is full of protein. I took a quick trip over to PubMed.gov and found a study titled “Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery.” Here is the conclusion of this particular study:

“This is the first study to show that protein ingested immediately before sleep is effectively digested and absorbed, thereby stimulating muscle protein synthesis and improving whole-body protein balance during postexercise overnight recovery.” [1]

It makes sense that colostrum would promote muscle recovery and synthesis because it contains an enormous amount of vitamins and protein that the body needs to repair and rebuild itself. I was able to find more studies that were carried out after the initial study I found that share similar results. Some studies are not as particular about the time colostrum is ingested as long as some protein is included in your diet. 

Noted.

Another benefit of colostrum, in regards to exercise performance, is its ability to prevent or drastically reduce gut issues. If you are an athlete with a rigorous training routine (especially long distance runners), then I’m sure you know the term “runner’s trots.”

This issue is not discussed a lot in the mainstream, even though research has suggested that anywhere between 30-50% of athletes experience gastrointestinal issues. [2]

Runner’s trot is a nicer way of saying diarrhea. I learned about this the hard way.

In case you’re wondering … NO, I didn’t poop myself! Something even worse than that happened.

I was once an operations manager at a baseball facility that was connected to a popular gym in the area. The people from the gym would come over to our side of the building and blow up our bathrooms on a consistent basis. It was so gnarly, guys!

I had to clean the toilet one time because, as fate would have it, the person who usually cleaned our bathrooms was not working that particular day. A wonderful gym-goer managed to hardcore clog the toilet and splattered poo all the way up on the tank that sits on the back of the toilet. I used an entire bottle of Lysol and a little toilet brush thing on just the tank part alone! Then I huffed, puffed, and pouted until the owner plunged the toilet himself. They did not pay me enough to plunge that mess.

How in the f*%#-ing world did they do that? Seriously?! I really want to know if they are still alive after that performance because, if so, I would love to beat them with that plunger!

That was the day when I realized life, in and of itself, was meaningless…

It was also the day I Google-searched that shit — literally. And that’s how I discovered the term “runner’s trots.” Here’s why it happens:

When people exercise, it creates changes in their intestinal hormones which can accelerate their bowel transit time. Blood flow to the intestines is reduced in order to help the muscles during exercise performance, which can create digestive issues. (And those processed sugary protein shakes are just fueling the fire — let’s be real.) Over time,reduced blood flow to the intestines can make an athlete susceptible to digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastritis, and leaky gut syndrome:

“Colostrum’s growth factors have anti-inflammatory action and also help repair damaged cells in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which decreases cellular spacing and prevents further leakage of toxins into body. Colostrum naturally contains EGF, which research shows can actually help grow and repair intestinal tissue.” [3]

This is huge for so many reasons!

There is a great deal of evidence that suggests that autoimmune disorders are caused by a leaky gut, but that’s a subject for another post. It’s also huge because colostrum can help prevent or reduce one of the main causes of runner’s trot, thus improving performance in athletes.

I know a few professional athletes who take bovine colostrum on a consistent basis. They add it to their super-duper, healthy, I-live-and-breathe-all-things-LA protein shakes. It’s not cheap, so it has to be doing something right for them to justify the price tag. (If you’re interested in some healthy colostrum and protein shake recipes, I will post some on the site soon!)

The evidence is beginning to stack up now!

Now, I would not suggest taking colostrum if you are lactose intolerant. There are a few holistic practitioners who claim you can take bovine colostrum even if you are lactose intolerant, but I could not find any relevant studies to back up their claims.

Trust me — I’m not a doctor.

Are there any beauty benefits with Bovine Colostrum?

Whether you can or cannot ingest bovine colostrum, it is a great skincare treatment for anyone! When I worked for a high-end nutrition expert in Santa Monica, a lot of our female clients would buy it solely for this reason. They claim that it has anti-aging effects. Could this stuff really be the fountain of youth?

Most colostrum comes in powder form, so it can be mixed with your lotions, serums, or water to create a mask. I know I’m only one data point, but I’ve tried this and it definitely made my skin glow. I mixed the colostrum powder with alkaline water and let it sit for an hour. It created a mask-like effect (it hardens on your skin while it dries), which I then washed off once the hour was up. I think I need to use it on a more consistent basis to really see dramatic results, but I noticed a difference only using it a couple of times so far.

My only complaint is that, well, it smells like milk (because it is milk). It’s not the most pleasant thing in the world, but beauty is pain, people!

Just an FYI — do NOT add this to your coffee!!! I was out of almond milk one time and thought I was so clever to use colostrum powder as a substitute. I think the heat caused it to clump and curdle, and it tasted mighty funky. Just don’t do it!

Where can you buy Bovine Colostrum?

One of the best bovine colostrum products I’ve tried comes from Sovereign Laboratories. Their cows are pasture-fed, antibiotic, and hormone-free. To maintain the integrity of the colostrum until it reaches the intestines, Sovereign Laboratories developed a liposomal delivery system to ensure bio-availability and effectiveness of their product. Check out their website for more details here. You’re welcome!

One last thing to add: most companies that sell colostrum will make sure the calves are fed first before collecting the rest of the cow’s colostrum. I humbly ask that you support only these companies. There are a few that claim they get their colostrum before the calves drink it, and I think that’s wrong. Calves need this special milk to survive the first few days after birth. I think we can wait for them to get it.

There you have it, guys — the first of many health and beauty secrets I will be sharing with you on this site. If you decide to try colostrum, let me know about your experience with it!


 

[1] Res PTGroen BPennings BBeelen MWallis GAGijsen APSenden JMVAN Loon LJ. Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery Med Sci Sports Exerc. 44(8):1560-9 (2012) PMID: 22330017
[2] Erick Prado de OliveiraRoberto Carlos BuriniAsker Jeukendrup. Gastrointestinal Complaints During Exercise: Prevalence, Etiology, and Nutritional Recommendations Sports Medicine 44(Suppl 1): 79–85 (2014) PMC: 4008808
[3] Bovine Colostrum & Autoimmune Diseases. (2015). Center For Nutritional Research     http://www.icnr.org/articles/autoimmune.html

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