A new study, conducted in vitro, has identified a potential new benefit of colostrum.

The research, published in the journal Nutrients, found that bovine colostrum was able to strengthen the cells found in gut wall lining.

These cells become weakened if bacteria associated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth are present. This condition, abbreviated simply as SIBO, is linked to a number of medical conditions.

Bovine colostrum was shown to enhance the cellular proteins that bind surface cells together—helping to maintain a strong barrier function.

It is by strengthening this cellular barrier that colostrum provides protection against increased intestinal permeability—the condition known commonly as leaky gut.

Causes of ‘leaky gut’

Intestinal permeability is a term describing the control of material passing from inside the gastrointestinal tract through the cells lining the gut wall, into the rest of the body.

The intestine normally exhibits some permeability, which allows nutrients to pass through the gut, while also maintaining a barrier function to keep potentially harmful substances (foreign antigens, toxins and microorganisms) from leaving the intestine and migrating to the body more widely.

It is when this normal permeability becomes excessive that leaky gut arises (increased intestinal permeability).

In the laboratory tests, bovine colostrum overcame leaky gut by strengthening gut cells and maintaining their natural cell-contact proteins. This action prevented excessive leakage of luminal contents through the layer of the gut lining that acts as a natural barrier.

The researchers measured how many bacteria crossed the gut barrier layer, and followed the integrity of the barrier layer by measuring transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER).

What is colostrum?

Colostrum is the first form of milk produced by the mammary glands of mammals immediately following delivery of the newborn. It is sometimes referred to colloquially as “first milk.”

Most mammals will begin to generate colostrum just prior to giving birth. Colostrum has an especially high amount of bioactive compounds compared to regular milk to give the newborn the best possible start to life. It is composed of a powerful combination of bioactives that support immune health.

It is these powerful nutrients in colostrum, harvested mostly from bovine sources, that make it a powerful nutritional supplement for humans. The health-building bioactives include immunoglobulins, immune modulators, and oligosaccharides. All work together to support not only the immune system, but have also been shown to support respiratory health in adults and children.

The new study examining leaky gut used pasteurized bovine colostrum powder collected during the first 24 hours post calving. The colostrum contained 48g protein and 15g of immunoglobulin per 100g powder.

Peer review and follow-up research

Since the research was conducted in vitro it is considered preliminary; however, colostrum has already been proven effective in many other areas of immune health, so researchers are confident that results will be duplicated in further testing.

“While the bovine colostrum did not directly kill the bacteria in this study, it did strengthen the natural gut barrier against the stresses of bacteria,” said Dr. Raymond Playford, PhD, FRCP, clinical gastroenterologist, and lead investigator of the study. “I am hopeful more studies will be conducted to further explore the health benefits of bovine colostrum for SIBO and leaky gut.”

Though the study has been accepted for peer review in scientific journals, it should be noted that it was an industry-sponsored study. The research was supported by PanTheryx, a nutrition and biotechnology company based in Phoenix, Arizona.

The study was first accepted by the journal Nutrients in February 2021, and is available on the NCBI and MDPI scientific databases.

Find colostrum in the following Optimal Health Systems products:

Optimal Defense
Natural Z Pak

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Sources: Nutrients / MDPI database, BusinessWire.com, Wikipedia.