In the first critical days after birth, one of the most important steps you can take that will determine the health and long-term wellness of your baby will be to ensure the proper development and maintenance of her inner ecosystem.
A healthy inner ecosystem is when your baby's intestines have the proper balance of beneficial microflora (good bacteria and beneficial yeast). Microflora play an important role in conquering pathogenic viruses, yeast and bacteria. This is Mother Nature's way of really "vaccinating" your child and building her immunity so she can live safely in this world.
Microflora also play a vital role in ensuring that your baby digests your milk. This way she will start to thrive on her new food and begin to gain weight quickly now that she is out of your womb. Because her brain is still under development, your nutrient rich milk will help nourish her brain and influence her level of intelligence for the rest of her life. And more importantly the calcium and phosphorus in your milk will help build strong healthy bones and teeth.
The missing link in the health of many babies being born today is establishing the presence of a healthy inner ecosystem where good microflora outnumber the bad.
In order to have a healthy inner ecosystem, a baby depends on his mother to inoculate him with healthy microflora at birth. While this seems easy enough, poor diet and lifestyle habits have robbed today's women of the healthy microflora so critical for baby's inner ecosystem.
Baby's First Exposure to Bacteria:
Important research shows that it was commonly believed that the amniotic fluid in the womb is sterile and germ-free. However, we now know that the amniotic fluid can be infected. As the time of birth approaches and as the cervix begins to dilate in preparation for the birth of your baby, bacteria from the birth canal begin to enter into the amniotic fluid. Once labor begins this bacteria covers the body of your baby and enters your baby's digestive tract.
One would hope that there would only be friendly bacteria in the birth canal but if a baby's mother doesn't have plenty of good microflora in her own digestive system and vagina, she won't be able to pass on healthy bacteria to her baby.
Unfortunately, studies show that as many as 85% of women have a vaginal infection when they give birth and pass on dangerous pathogens to their newborn babies instead of the beneficial bacteria that create a foundation for wellness.
Babies who lack an abundance of beneficial bacteria at the beginning of their lives start life with painful gastrointestinal pain like gas, colic and reflux. They can also have infant constipation. They do not develop the necessary immunity and do not have the ability to cleanse out inherited toxins from their parents and grandparents.
Because 80% of the immune system is located in the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), babies who do not quickly develop a healthy inner ecosystem in their gut have weakened immunity. They are also more vulnerable to allergies and other more serious problems, including autism.
Probiotics in the Prevention of Allergies:
More than half of developing countries have children with allergy related problems , and eliminating this problem requires intervention in infancy. It is not surprising that the increase in allergic diseases is being linked to the lack of an optimal inner ecosystem observable in infants within the first week of their little lives.
During the first few hours after birth babies have a permeable gut lining so that they can fully benefit from the nourishment of mother's first milk, called "colostrum".
After these first few hours, a protective barrier begins to form on a baby's mucosal lining. Beneficial bacteria and good yeast colonize in this mucosal layer and play an essential role in reinforcing this protective barrier.
This period of colonization is extremely important, and highly dependent on your baby's nutrition during the first few months of life because the earliest bacteria to arrive into their intestines have a distinct advantage in colonizing their inner ecosystem, and in building their immunity.
If the barrier formed on your baby's gut lining is not effective enough, or lacking in good microflora, food and toxins leak into the blood.
In this case, a baby's little body reacts as if the food is a "foreign invader", and creates antibodies against the food, which leads to "food allergies".
Giving your baby beneficial bacteria soon after birth can ensure proper colonization of healthy microflora in their intestines, and prevent food allergies that are so common today.
Other benefits of giving your baby probiotics include:
Prevention of necrotising enterocolitis (death of intestinal tissue), which is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders in premature babies.
Prevention of fevers and diarrhea. According to an Israeli study, infants given formula containing probiotics had half as many bouts of fever and diarrhea than those given regular formula.
Increased immune response in infants infected with the rotavirus, and decrease in the duration of rotavirus associated diarrhea. Reduced likelihood that your baby will develop atopic eczema, an allergic skin condition which is more common in infancy and linked to other allergic disorders including asthma.
Is Breast Milk Best?
As long as a mother is supplying her own body with excellent nutrients, her milk is the gold standard for her baby's nutrition.
If your baby is colicky, this is mother natures way of telling you that your baby's inner ecosystem is lacking the healthy microflora needed to digest breast milk. Giving your baby probiotics is especially important if you are unable to breastfeed your baby.
How and When to Give Your Baby Probiotics:
Introduce your baby to fermented foods and drinks by gradually feeding them small amounts.
Many less modernized cultures around the world have long known about the benefits of fermented foods and drinks in baby nutrition. Russians give their babies milk kefir diluted with water when they're as young as 4 months old.
Introduce your baby to the sour taste of fermented foods right away by putting a little cultured vegetable juice on your finger and letting them suck on it.
Cultured vegetables contain Lactobacillus plantarum, a strain of friendly bacteria that is very effective in the treatment of colic, and crucial to the development of a healthy inner ecosystem.
17 May 2011