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This Unexpected Supplement Can Improve Your Gut Health, Says Dietitian

A registered dietitian gives us the lowdown on colostrum.

When it comes to your gut, it's imperative that you treat it right because it can have a direct impact on your physical and mental wellbeing. The processes that your gut microbiome (aka the microorganisms that inhabit your intestines) carry out are thought to influence several diseases, including cancer, autoimmune disorders, and even autism.

However, research indicates that fueling your gut with healthy foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics, among other nutrients, and steering clear of processed foods as much as possible is one way to take control of fostering and maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria. But sometimes, we could use a little extra support, which is why your doctor or registered dietitian may recommend taking a supplement.

What you may expect to hear is a probiotic or a supplement that contains digestive enzymes. However, Mia Syn, MS, RDN, says taking cow colostrum supplements may also be worth considering.

What is colostrum?

Syn, who's also a nutrition advisor to PanTheryx, an integrative digestive and immune health company, explains that colostrum is the pre-milk substance produced by all mothers after giving birth. It contains "a comprehensive source of protective proteins, immune and growth factors, and prebiotics."

Colostrum helps to activate a newborn's immune system, kickstart key digestive functions, and lay down the groundwork for a healthy gut microbiome in the first few days of life, according to Syn.

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"Just as women produce high-quality colostrum after giving birth, cows also produce colostrum after their calves are born," she says. "The health benefits of cow colostrum have been studied for decades and for multiple areas of human health, including immunity, gut health, digestive health, and sports performance."

For children over age one who are no longer breastfeeding, Syn suggests taking cow colostrum via a dietary supplement.

Wait, can adults also benefit from colostrum?

Syn says there are more than 6,000 published studies on the benefits of cow colostrum on human health, adults included.

"While it's long been known that colostrum is essential for a newborn, research has shown that colostrum from cows can play an important role in supporting the health of humans of all ages," she adds.

Currently, scientific research suggests taking 400 milligrams of colostrum for efficacious levels to support your immune system and digestive health. Not only can colostrum support your immune and digestive systems, but it can also support your upper respiratory tract, according to one 2016 study.

"Clinical studies have shown that cow colostrum is very similar to human colostrum in terms of the makeup of components," Syn says. "Because they contain so many of the same components, the way they work in the body is highly similar, as well."

Syn shares a few examples of the types of benefits that the supplement provides:

  • Protective proteins: Help support your body's natural defenses, so they can recognize and ward off foreign invaders.
  • Immune factors: Help support a balanced and healthy immune response.
  • Prebiotics: Promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, helping to create a balanced and healthy microbiome.
  • Growth factors: Help support the gut's natural repair process, and strengthen the protective lining of the gut.

Still, the age group that could benefit the most from these supplements are children age one and above. Syn suggests three brands: Life's First Naturals, Symbiotics Colostrum Capsules, and Upspring Probiotic + Colostrum.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the former news editor of Eat This, Not That! Read more about Cheyenne