Attention doctors: Surprising benefits of probiotics when taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding
(NaturalHealth365) Breast milk is extremely rich in nourishing compounds for the developing young child – containing a wide range of life-sustaining compounds like vitamins, minerals, antibodies, enzymes, hormones, healthy fats, beneficial bacteria plus much more. But, the key element to producing health breast milk resides in the prenatal and postnatal dietary intake of the mother – including the level of probiotics consumed on a daily basis.
While many conventionally-trained physicians may suggest it’s ‘not clear’ how diet and nutritional supplements can affect the quality of breast milk, there is good science to prove its positive effect. And, if you’re a doctor, you should know that teaching people about good nutrition will put you way ahead of your peers.
For example, a 2016 Italian study has shown that taking probiotics while pregnant and during breastfeeding can have a tremendously positive impact on both the mother and the child’s immune system, digestive functioning and overall development.
Probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding boosts infants’ developing gut bacteria
The study of women showed that those who took a probiotic daily from the 36th week of pregnancy and four weeks after delivery enjoyed substantial positive health results. The probiotics increased the levels of cytokines in the breastfeeding women; these are the molecules that support immune system responses.
The infants’ fecal samples also showed increased levels of sIgA, a key antibody that helps block potential invading bacteria. In fact, probiotics have a profound ability to stimulate antibody production.
The infants in the probiotic group also experienced fewer issues with regurgitation and less abdominal pain. These distressing and all too common digestive problems in the first months of life can extremely stressful for the whole family.
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It’s plain to see that the state of the mother’s microbiome is a key factor in the health of the developing infant. This is why we, at NaturalHealth365, always push conventionally-trained healthcare providers to learn more about the power of good nutrition. (it’s a great way to help your patients!)
Mothers are encouraged to optimize the microbiome for a healthier pregnancy
The gut microbiome refers to the diverse ecosystem of gut bacteria in the digestive tract. It is also the location of around 70-80 percent of the immune system.
The beneficial gut bacteria protect the gut barrier from unfriendly bacteria as well as produce and regulate antibodies, enzymes and short-chain fatty acids used by the immune system to help keep you healthy.
Babies are born with immature immune systems with minimal bacteria exposure. While they have the beginnings of a microbiome, breastfeeding offers exposure to friendly flora to help continue to build and cultivate the immune system.
Maternal immune cells transport probiotics from the gut of the mother to her mammary glands via the enteromammary pathway. Mothers can take steps to optimize their own microbiomes and ensure they will pass ideal bacteria to their little one as follows:
Take probiotics. When trying to conceive or immediately after conception, start taking a women’s probiotic formula.
Eat healthy. Eat microbiome-friendly foods like yogurt, fermented vegetables, bananas, honey, asparagus and plenty of fiber. Naturally, avoid as many chemicals as possible by eating organic, locally grown food.
Live healthy. Avoid antibiotics and exposure to unwanted food additives and toxic household chemicals.
Breastfeed. Continue a probiotic lifestyle and breastfeed your baby for at least six months.
These simple steps can help to ensure a healthier pregnancy and a more robust gut microbiome and immune system in your new baby.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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