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Colostrum: First Step in Health

A Feel 21, Inc. Health Report

When I was younger, my mom told me of how she use to drink fresh milk, and I mean FRESH milk. Every morning the milkman would deliver to her house. There was a rush to get to the sweet cream that layered the top before her sister got to it (after all, it was their favorite part). On occasion, she'd get the opportunity to have straight-from-the-udder fresh milk. Still warm and filled with the nutrients passed on by the mother cow, she and her sister would relish in one of the nectars of life. We don't have that luxury anymore. Unless you live on or near a farm, your milk is probably processed and pasteurized. There is no Milkman in Middle America. (Okay there probably is but that isn't convenient to the story, now is it?) Nobody I know gets their milk delivered in those neat little glass bottles that drive all the cats crazy. The only time most people even see a cow is driving on the turnpike.

Most of us live in a world where breakfast is on-the-run and lunch is more of a business meting than a chance at afternoon replenishment. It's no wonder many of us are so sick all the time. Our immune systems basically go into shock from all the cr-- really bad food we continuously shove into our gullets. Match that with the ever-growing number of resistant bacteria and you can see the problem. (For more information on products to treat the "super-germs" check out last month's Health Report: Silver 100 -- Death to the Super-Germ.

This month's Health Report is, this writer believes, in the spirit of those bygone days. It's in memoriam of all who suffer from a weakened immune system due to the rigors of life. It's dedicated to those who . . .why don't I just turn it over to Lisa Schofield of Vitamin Retailer.
                                      - Anthony Anderson for Feel 21, Inc.

By now you may have heard of colostrum, or seen products on the shelves of your favorite health products store, and maybe have noticed it in reference to heightening immune response.

Dr. Beth Ley, Ph.D., author of Immune System Cotnrol: Colostrum & Lactoferrin, writes that for centuries, man has known that newborns have fewer illnesses and generally live longer and more robustly -- if they were fed their mothers' first milk following birth, than those that did not.

Specifically, Ley explains, colostrum "is the pre-milk fluid produced by female mammals in the mammary glands just before they give birth. While it is technically not milk at all, colostrum is often called 'first milk' as it is obtained in the first milking after birth."

A Quick Overview of the Immune System

To understand the importance of colostrum, it helps to know a bit about our immune system. According to Robert Rountree, M.D., author of Immunotics: A Revolutionary Way to Fight Infection, Beat Chronic Illness, and Stay Well, the immune system is unlike others because it is not confined to an organ, group of organs or specific site. "The immune system is not a discrete entity, but rather an assortment of billions of specialized cells that protect the body in many different ways," he explains.

There are many varied immune cells with targeted missions. Some circulate throughout the body and deal immediately with foreign invaders. Others only perform local reconnaissance on the lining and blood vessels of certain organs. Mucus is also an arsenal of immune cells, and the lining of the gastrointestinal tract is likewise filled with various immune cells. Meanwhile, the lymphatic system, a veritable roadmap that circulates lymph fluid composed of white blood cells and fat throughout the body, is filled with cruising immune cells.

Immune cells include B-cells, T-cells (helper, suppressor and killer), macrophages, monocytes, neutrophils and another set called antibodies composed of five classes: IgG, IgM, IgA, IgD, and IgE.

Colostrum's Affinity for Immunity

Colostrum, writes Ley, contains all four of the key immunoglobulins: IgM, IgA, IgG and secretory IgA. "These immunoglobulins are equipped with special adaptive sites which are effective at neutralizing a wide range of bacteria, viruses and yeasts. They include antibodies specific to fight disease-causing microorganisms."

Lactoferrin is a key protein found in colostrum which Rountree points out binds to unbound iron. "Numerous studies document that lactoferrin also has natural antibiotic, antifungal and possibly anticancer activity," he writes. "According to a study published in Cancer Research, lactoferrin can inhabit both the growth of solid tumors and metastasis in mice. Refined lactoferrin is being tested as potential cancer treatment," he adds.

Ley adds that the benefits of lactoferrin are many. Specifically, among many other activities, lactoferrin "promotes intestinal cell growth (enhances nutrient digestion); activates and regulates the immune system (produces or stimulates production of antibodies, interleukins, killer cells and other white blood cells, etc.); and provides unfavorable conditions for growth of certain harmful microorganisms (inhibits binding activity, etc.)."

Colostrum also contains immunoglobulins, which Rountree describes as proteins that attach to foreign proteins and mark them for attack by circulating T-cells. "Think of globulins as the scouts of the immune system," offers Rountree.

Transfer factor is another beneficial ingredient found within colostrum; it facilitates an exchange of information from one cell to another, which in turn alerts other immune cells to potentially nefarious invaders. Older immune cells transfer their antibody memory to younger cells through the transfer factor, he explains.

Ley, in another book on the subject, Colostrum: Nature's Gift to the Immune System, also explains that colostrum contains pro-line-rich polypeptide (PRP) which regulates the immune system in a powerful manner. "PRP in Colostrum increases the permeability of the skin vessels which offers a regulatory activity, stimulating or suppressing the immune response," she writes.

Colostrum has been shown to be promising for inhibiting conditions of bone cancer, lymphoma and other cancer types, Ley reports. Other conditions in which researchers have shown some benefit from taking colostrum include the effective neutralizing of a number of microorganisms such as Escherischia coli, Streptococcus pneumococci, Clostridium difficile A and B, Bivrio cholera, salmonella, shigella and a variety of viruses including rotavirus and coxsackie, and yeasts such as Candida albicans.

Colostrum taken on a daily basis can also have positive effects for bodybuilders and other athletes, Ley points out. The naturally occurring growth factors, such as IgF1, help to stimulate cell division and tissue development, assisting in healing and repair.

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If you have or suspect an illness or have a health concern, always consult with your physician or health care provider. We have used our best judgment in compiling this information, however, the information presented may not have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any reference to a specific product is for your information only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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