Breast milk offers natural protection from bacterial infections
(NaturalHealth365) A new study out of Vanderbilt University has determined a complex mixture of proteins, sugars and fats in breast milk offers effective protection against a range of bacterial infections in nursing babies. The researchers found the benefits of breastfeeding to be remarkable including, the delivery of antibacterial substances – which are not present in infant formula and other alternatives to breast milk.
These results were presented at the American Chemical Society annual meeting in Washington DC on August 20, 2017 and published in the ACS Infectious Diseases journal.
Compounds in breast milk effectively impair unwanted bacterial growth
The components of breast milk appear to have the effect of breaking up regions of bacteria in the body that normally form organized clumps. The sugars, proteins and enzymes in breast milk help to dissipate bacteria and allow it to be more easily attacked by the immune system and natural antibacterial agents.
The study is the first of its kind to closely examine the antibacterial properties and health benefits of breast milk to nursing infants. Best of all, these (natural) antibiotics are non-toxic, unlike synthetic antibiotics produced by the pharmaceutical industry that threaten digestive (and immune) health.
For example, Group B Strep was tested specifically – as it is one of the most common causes of infections in newborns across the world. It was determined that properties within breast milk help to weaken and kill the streptococci bacteria very effectively.
Benefits of breastfeeding include “synthetic lethality” against infections
The researchers did not look for antibacterial properties specifically in the milk; instead carbohydrates and sugars were examined. The effects of sugars and proteins combined in breast milk had been until now unexplored.
For the study, samples of human breast milk were collected from different donor women and the carbohydrate portions isolated. The components were examined via mass spectrometry to look at a range of biomolecules simultaneously. Once isolated, the compounds were put into Streptococci bacteria cultures and the effects studied under a microscope.
It was found that the compounds in breast milk killed the harmful bacteria directly while also impeding their ability to cluster and form protective biofilms to further their development. Simply put, the compounds effectively killed Strep bacterial cultures.
The researchers found these helpful compounds in breast milk first soften their bacterial targets, then move in for the kill. This is referred to as “synthetic lethality,” and lab-developed antibacterial agents with these qualities are highly-prized.
Breast milk helps to eliminate the threat of the most common pathogens – worldwide
It was found that some of the sugars in breast milk also help to enhance other antimicrobial agents within it. There is strong evidence the compounds in breast milk could be highly effective against the spectrum of six bacteria referred to as ESKAPE pathogens; these include Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecium, Klebsiella pneumonia, Acinetobacter baumannii, Enterobacter species and Pseudomonar aeruginosa – the leading causes of disease and infection across the world.
In addition to underscoring the benefits of breastfeeding for the developing child, these research results clearly reveal the power of nature to protect our lives. Western medicine would better serve society by embracing its concepts.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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