Bovine Colostrum and the Flu

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Natural protection against bacterial and viral infection is required for the survival of humans.  The undisputed powerhouse in this category is first milk colostrum, a mother’s gift of protection to the newborn child.  It is clearly associated with fewer digestive and respiratory infections. 

First milk bovine colostrum, since it can be commercially produced and used by humans, has been the subject of many studies.  Scientists have identified many of its immune boosting activities and have suggested it as a potential tool to help combat flu1.  It has even been proposed as a nutrient to help with the problems of HIV infection2.

In addition to the natural antibodies present in first milk colostrum a new study demonstrates that it is also the unique carbohydrate structures3 (sialic acid viral decoys) that are found in bovine colostrum and other concentrated whey protein products that offer significant protection. 

This is a very clever mechanism, as a virus is looking for a sialic acid molecule thinking it is a human cell to infect.  When it binds on to a food-related look-a-like it is bound up and rendered inert, and politely ushered out of the body without a whimper. 

Why would a baby want to battle a virus when there is a way to trick the virus into submission?  Thanks mom.

Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Bovine Colostrum Boosts Immune System  New Microbiol.  Biswas P, Vecchi A, Mantegani P, Mantelli B, Fortis C, Lazzarin A.
  2. ^ Colostrum, Viral Infection, and Gut Integrity  PLOS Medicine  Shawn J Green
  3. ^ Viral Infection and Carbohydrate-Based Immunity   J Anim Sci.  Newburg DS.

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