Colostrum: New hype among athletes
Colostrum comprises of many health properties that can benefit the entire family. It is backed by more than 5,000 studies that have highlighted its health benefits, which range from healing leaky gut, stimulating collagen production, neutralizing bacteria and viruses to balancing the immune system.
What is colostrum?
Colostrum is simply immune milk, which is packed with immune and growth factors that help children grow and adults repair their DNA. Colostrum in its purest form is produced by cows during the first six hours after giving birth.
Colostrum throughout history
Consumed by ancient cultures throughout history, bovine colostrum has always been highly regarded for its health properties; in traditional Chinese medicine it was regarded as a health promoting potion, and Indians used it for thousands of years in their Ayurvedic medicine. Even vegetarians who refrain from eating meat due to religious beliefs, have and continue to consume dairy products, including colostrum. In fact, traditional Indian cuisine, which features mainly vegetarian dishes, boasts a number of dessert recipes made with cow colostrum.
As a matter of fact, veganism, which rejects eating any dairy product, has no links to the Indian culture. The word 'vegan' was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson, a British animal rights advocate.
And, before the advent of antibiotics, bovine colostrum was the main source of antibodies used to fight infections.
Colostrum debut in the world of sports
Colostrum was brought back to light in the world of sports after the research of Dr. Jon Buckley of the University of South Australia led the Australian Olympic team to put the majority of its athletes on a colostrum supplementation protocol. The team won a disproportionately high number of medals compared to the size of the country in the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympic Games.
Following the Australians' announcement on colostrum's benefits, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made its own investigation and approved colostrum as a supplement for elite athletes. Today, Olympic and professional athletes around the world are supplementing colostrum and the number is growing!
How elite athletes benefit from supplementing colostrum
Studies demonstrating the benefits that colostrum can contribute to the health and performance of athletes have been pouring in for nearly two decades and the benefits include:
- Helps repair tissue and accelerate healing. Oxidative stress due to intense exercise causes muscle fatigue among athletes. However, glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, (and its precursors, cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid) can increase an athlete’s exercise capacity before fatigue sets in by neutralizing free radicals that otherwise cause inflammation and damage muscle tissue. Glutathione and its precursors are abundant in colostrum.
- Helps improve immune system function. Athletes who supplemented colostrum had less upper respiratory tract infection (URTI), one study found.
- Helps prevent leaky gut. Because of their vigorous training routine, athletes are among those at higher risk of developing leaky gut. According to a study, after a 20 day supplementation, athletes had a significant reduction in the concentration of stool zonulin, an important marker of leaky gut.
- Helps prevent heat stroke. To aid athletes in combating the side effects of strenuous exercise in a city as hot as Rio during the 2016 Olympics, a team of researchers at Napier University in Edinburgh conducted research on colostrum and concluded that colostrum had value in preventing heat strokes.
- Helps the body burn fat instead of sugar for fuel. The naturally occurring bioavailable growth hormones that are found in colostrum favor fat for energy instead of glucose.
- Helps improve recovery after exercise. After four weeks of supplementation, athletes had up to a 20% increase in strength, stamina, and endurance, and their recovery time after intense exercise was reduced by nearly half.
Colostrum Vs. whey protein
- Whey protein is the byproduct of cheese-making and because it doesn’t taste good, companies add flavorings and sweeteners to make it appealing to consumers. Colostrum is a WHOLE food that tastes great on its own.
- A study comparing both found that colostrum supplementation increased lean muscle mass, while whey protein increased both muscle mass and fats.
- Another study compared the performances of professional cyclists given 10 grams of whey protein per day to a group who received colostrum at the same amount over an eight-week period. Cyclists using colostrum reported a greater improvement in a 40 km time trial. They also showed better stamina levels and quicker recovery times.
How much colostrum to take
The lowest dose proven to be effective in studies involving athletes was 10 g per day, but positive outcomes took longer than the normal eight weeks to show. Meanwhile, the majority of studies used a 20 g per day dose, which showed positive effects at the eight-week mark.
How to take colostrum
On an empty stomach for faster absorption. But, it's a powder so you can get creative and add to anything!
Contains dairy proteins, please consult your physician if you have dairy intolerance
Have you tried colostrum before? We would love to hear from you. Please comment below!