It Takes Guts
Bacteria is all around us. We have been told to wash our hands after we use the toilet and before we eat, but do you know that there are some “good” bacteria that are necessary for health and long-term wellness? Not just for you, but baby too!
Our bodies are designed to function best with millions of friendly bacteria living in our intestinal tract. It may sound absurd but it is absolutely true. These helpful bacteria in our guts are actually probiotic bacteria—digestible live microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses and yeasts, which are beneficial for health when consumed in adequate quantities. They build up immunity, maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining and assist in digestion.
Normally there should be a balance of 85% probiotic bacteria and 15% harmful bacteria in the intestinal flora but here’s an interesting fact: The immune system learns to recognise and tolerate the bacteria that colonised it in the first year or so of life. Once this colonising process in the gastrointestinal tract is complete, the composition of the intestinal flora will remain roughly the same throughout the person’s life. This could explain why you were a sickly child in your early years or have ailments persisting even in adulthood. Nevertheless, the point is to expose your baby right from birth to a healthy mixture of beneficial microflora (good bacteria and beneficial yeast) and wean him onto necessary probiotics as he grows.
First guts exposure
Babies receive their first contact with bacteria themoment they enter the world. Bacteria, both good and bad, are passed on to baby from the birth canal of the mother and his intestinal flora is quickly established. If he is nursed by his mother, he will pick up milk-based bacteria, such as acidophilus and bifidus, from her through the breastfeeding process.
On the other hand, the gastrointestinal composition of babies delivered by caesarean section or formula-fed is slightly different and more complex. They tend to contain less Bifidobacteria but higher amounts of Bacteroides and Clostridium difficile bacteria originating from the hospital environment and health care workers.
Babies with insufficient beneficial bacteria in the beginning stages of their development can have very painful gastrointestinal sickness like colic, constipation and skin allergies like eczema. They did not develop the right level of immunity to fight off bad germs and clean out the toxins surrounding them.
This is why probiotics are vital to help treat and build a strong system and foundation of good health.
Colostrum for Guts
An increase in allergic diseases is linked to a lack of an optimal inner ecosystem observable in newborns within the first week of their lives. It matters what newborns are exposed to since birth, especially the milk he is being fed.
During the first few hours after birth, newborns have a permeable gut lining that can fully benefit from the nourishing benefits of their mother’s first milk, colostrum.
Colostrum is a treasure trove of growth factors, antibodies and nutrients. Its concentrated but microbes-rich form provides the first line of defence for baby’s intestinal lining. This is because the earliest bacteria to arrive into the intestines have a distinct advantage in colonising the gastrointestinal tract and laying the foundation that would last the baby for a lifetime.
If the defence barrier on the gut lining is not effective enough or lacking in good microflora, food can be mistaken as foreign invaders. His little body reacts by creating antibodies against the food, which leads to “food allergies”.
The bottom line: Denying your baby of this liquid gold is akin to depriving him of a valuable inheritance, an arsenal against diseases.
Guts and Colic
Colic has been considered to be the result of abdominal pain arising from trapped gas in the digestive tract. Recently, studies have shown that colicky babies have an inflammation in the gut and this could be accounted by a lack of certain beneficial bacteria in the gut flora. The administering of the probiotics, Lactobacillus acidophilus, can improve colic and other commonly associated conditions like lactose intolerance, gastroesophageal reflux and gastric inflammation. Although probiotics need time to take full effect, it will promote the build up of the “missing” microflora in baby’s intestinal tract to a level where the right balance is achieved, thus protecting your baby from further allergies.
Guts and Infant Constipation
It is normal for your baby’s bowel movements to decrease around 2-6 weeks of age and constipation to occur. This is because his digestive system is maturing and becoming better to digest and absorb the nutrients. The sign of constipation is within the consistency of the stools, not frequency or strain on its own. Introducing probiotics as a dietary supplement can help with constipation. Friendly bacteria are needed to aid in the digestion of food and can build immunity at the same time. It is recommended that parents increase water and fibre intake as a more natural approach first, before starting with probiotics.
Guts and Eczema
In many cases, infant eczema is a reaction to a food allergy with rashes forming on the cheeks, elbows or knees. Probiotics can help baby’s eczema by lessening the impact of those food allergies. While it doesn’t reverse the effect of being allergic to a food, it alleviates the irritation the food allergy causes to the baby’s body. In that sense, probiotics can make your baby more resistant to eczema. One study conducted in Finland demonstrated that infants who were given probiotics regularly and from an early age tended to have a 20 percent rate of allergy. This was in contrast to another group of infants who were fed the placebo and showed a more severe affect, with 40 percent rate of allergy.
Healthy Guts, Happy Baby
Gradually start introducing your baby to probiotics supplements to kickstart their immune system. There are many to choose from in the market, from tablets to chewable capsules to powdered formulas. Find the most suitable for your baby and give him the advantage he needs for a healthier and more vibrant start to life!