Does My Gut Health Affect My Breastfed Baby?
Q: How does my gut health affect my breastfeed baby and breastfeeding affect my baby’s gut health? My baby has a lot of food sensitivities which I have now realized I am also having a reaction to these foods too. There’s not much info out there on this topic. I was formula fed as a baby, is that why I have a bad gut? What can I do to make sure my baby has the best gut health possible?
A: The best way to invest in your baby’s gut health is to breastfeed as long as possible. New discoveries reveal a special nutrient in mother’s milk, appropriately dubbed “M.O.M.”, milk-oriented microbiota. These special nutrients become food – prebiotics – for your baby’s growing gut garden, which is called the microbiome.
If you suspect that your “bad gut” could be due to you having been formula fed, you could be right. In the first seven to eight months, a baby’s intestinal lining is very permeable – it leaks because the immature cells of the lining are not close enough to one another. Artificial food, germs, and environmental chemicals can leak through the gaps in the lining. The gaps start closing faster (a protective gut change called closure) in breastfed infants, due to a nutrient called human milk oligosaccharides. Also, breast milk is rich in immunoglobulin A, a protective sealant that coats the lining of the gut, preventing harmful germs and toxins from getting through.
Formula contains no live ingredients that can give these natural benefits. There are no good gut bugs, no white blood cells, no immune-strengthening biochemicals. This can set a baby up for an increased risk of inflammation imbalance later, even into adulthood. An easy-to-read resource on how breastmilk is so good for a baby’s gut and for general tips on gut health, download this valuable resource: AskDrSears.com/DrPoo. This is a free, colorful, and fun-to-read 50 page booklet on gut health. A good resource to help your own gut is our newest book,
The Dr. Sears T5 Wellness Plan.
Martha Sears, RN