What is the Microbiome and How Does it Affect Your Baby's Health?
Simply put, the microbiome is the combined genetic makeup of all of the yeast, bacteria, and fungus that happily coexist in and on our bodies. The Microbiome Most of these microorganisms are considered “commensal” – they neither harm us nor provide any true benefit other than taking up real estate that might otherwise be taken by harmful microbes. Some microorganisms, however, are considered “probiotic” – they provide enormous benefits to us and having them take up residence early on in life can protect us from infection or even allergies. Trends Mol Med.
Babies are sterile inside of the womb and only begin to have their own microbiome at the moment of birth. Ideally, they are bathed in a fabulous cocktail of vaginal microbiota from head to toe and then minutes later are popped onto the breast where their pristine guts are colonized immediately with the antibody-rich golden nectar of prebiotic-rich colostrum. It’s not long before that colostrum gives way to breastmilk that contains a probiotic strain that is so connected to the human baby’s gut health – Bifidobacterium longum infantis. This strain helps to modulate our immune systems, keep the lining of our gut strong and healthy, and alleviate the symptoms related to: constipation, gassiness, abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), atopic dermatitis, and eczema. Pediatr Res.
The Power of Breastmilk
This breastmilk is so powerful, that even the smallest amount given to your baby, even after a C-section, can offset the negative effects of missing out on the microbial benefits of vaginal birth. Scientific Reports-Chu Turns out that pumping also falls behind on the scale of the beneficial microbial transfer. The strains of bacteria and yeast that live on your skin are introduced to the baby once they begin breastfeeding and help to protect them from harmful bacteria that want to take up residence. Later on, when the baby begins to take on more solid foods, it’s definitely beneficial to include some probiotic foods in order to establish a healthy microbiome early. During the first 3 years of life, the foundation of the gut microbiome is being laid. Trends Mol Med. If this foundation-building is disrupted by severe illness or antibiotics, the child is much more likely to develop autoimmune and metabolic disorders later in life. Trends Mol Med.
So if you’re worried about how to help give your little one the best start to overall microbiome health, here’s what to keep in mind: opt for vaginal birth, if at all possible, avoid taking antibiotics while pregnant or breastfeeding, and if you’re able to breastfeed at all, every little bit is beneficial and can offset the negative effects of a C-section, formula feeding, or even antibiotic treatment. And after your little one starts eating solid foods, try a very wide variety of fruits, vegetables, beans (don’t forget hummus), and probiotic foods (yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha). You may be surprised by what they like!
What Can Parents Do?
Of course, we understand that an “easy” birth experience isn't always the case. There are several factors that may cause your baby to not be, “bathed in a fabulous cocktail of vaginal microbiota from head to toe.” So what should the rest of us do?
Good question, good nutrition and high-quality supplements are some of the keys to your child growing up healthy and happy. Here is what the Harvard Medical School says about nourishing your kids:
Most of the same strategies for healthy eating that work for adults also work for children. Children need the same nutrients as adults, but in different amounts.
Healthy diets for all ages are based on what the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans call nutrient-dense foods from different categories. These include:
Fruits and Vegetables. A variety of fresh, canned, frozen, or dried fruits and vegetables that cover the color spectrum: red tomatoes and strawberries; oranges and carrots; yellow squashes and bananas; leafy greens, avocados, and limes; blueberries; and purple grapes and eggplant. As a rule, the richer the color, the healthier the food.
Grains. Whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, or whole-grain bread.
Protein. Fish and other types of seafood, poultry, poultry, beans and other legumes, nuts and seeds, and lean meats.
Dairy Foods. Low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy foods.
Fats. Don't fear fats—as long as they are healthy fats from foods such as fish, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.
At the same time, it's best to limit a child's intake of foods with:
Added sugar. Sweetened breakfast cereals, sodas, juices, pastries etc...
Solid fats. Hot dogs and other fatty meats, full-fat dairy foods, and many prepared foods
Added salt. Chips, bread, and many processed and prepared foods
We know that finding the right mix of nutrition for your child can be extremely difficult, especially if you have a picky eater (almost every toddler) and you don’t have the time to cook delicious organic, colorful foods every day (almost all of us).
Optimal immune performance starts in your gut.
The Natural Nipple, a dedicated team of clinicians, scientists, and mamas pioneering advancements have evolved into an evidence-based solution to help all families raise strong, healthy, beautiful babies.
They began by studying infant gut microbiomes, and discovered that babies who weren’t being breastfed were facing deadly complications. J Allergy Clin Immunol Shifting their focus to address the source of the problem, they are helping more moms breastfeed. This means, less latching issues, less colic, and no more worrying if you're feeding your baby right, and more sleep for you at night!
By designing a bottle that offers seamless continuity between breast and nourishing with pumped milk, The Natural Nipple hopes to empower parents with nature's first life vaccine (breastmilk), promote bonding, and improve the health of families around the world. Select a bottle and nipple to mimic your unique nipple geometry, feel, and milk flow for optimal feeding success.
They also offer a Immuno-Biome Analysis, or gut check, in which their specialists interpret you or your baby's complete gut microbiome analysis through an at-home test! You'll receive recommendations of foods to enjoy, minimize, or avoid, and a three month supply of custom probiotics for you or your baby's unique microbiome.
Every parent wants what’s best for their child and that’s where understanding the microbiome, gut health, nutrition, and healthy supplements can make the difference.
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