All parents know that giving their child a good start with a healthy lifestyle means introducing healthy habits, and modeling them ourselves, from an early age.
Our bodies contain millions upon millions of microbes that control all the functions of our mind and body, and a great deal of study has been done to determine just how we can boost this good bacteria.
While more is being discovered every day, there are several things moms and dads can do now to ensure their child has an advantage in their health as they grow.
The microbes in the human body regulate our organ functions, including the brain, and also determine our metabolisms, immune system, and propensity for disease.
In recent decades, microbiologists have decoded much of the genetic maze of the bacteria that live within us – both good and bad.
In fact, there is a natural balance between good and bad bacteria, and the slightest shift can cause serious problems.
Obesity is one of those problems, one that a majority of Americans struggle with. Along with obesity comes heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Allergies, asthma, and other chronic illnesses can also be caused by a disruption in the balance of bacteria in our bodies.
And the simple truth is, most of these disorders can be avoided by maintaining the healthy microbes that our bodies use as a natural defense system.
Science has proven that by boosting levels of healthy bacteria, we can keep bad bacteria from overpowering our systems, thus leading to illness or chronic health issues.
We know part of this is related to our diet and giving our children the best start involves breastfeeding (when able, for as long as possible) and introducing healthy first foods as our children grow.
Babies’ infant microbes stay like those of their mother for up to six months after birth, and breastfeeding continues this healthy trend. Breastfeeding, especially, helps to maintain an infant’s healthy gut bacteria, with long-term protection against chronic illnesses like allergies and obesity.
Studies have found that both the placenta during pregnancy and breast milk after birth are critical in determining how a child’s microbial system develops.
Along with both mom’s and baby’s healthy diet, exercise and time outdoors also help to keep our healthy microbes to maintain this balancing act.
But there are other factors that may not immediately come to mind that can knock our microbial balance out of whack.
One of the factors comes into play predominantly during cold and flu season or during times of epidemic or pandemic. It is the message spread all over the airwaves that we must adopt the constant use of anti-bacterial hand soaps, wipes, and hand sanitizers in order to stay healthy.
But, in fact, these anti-bacterial products can do more harm than good, especially when used for an extended period of time.
These products can also destroy the good bacteria in our bodies, and this is especially damaging in early childhood, as they can create germ resistance as our microbes adapt to the chemicals contained in them.
Along the same lines, but even more potentially damaging down the line, is the overuse of antibiotics for common childhood illnesses.
They can kill off the good bacteria, and even alter a child’s genetic code in regard to their body’s “microbiome,” potentially setting off a tendency toward allergies, obesity, and other illnesses because of a shift in the good/bad bacteria balance.
Physicians seem to be more cautious these days than they were ten or twenty years ago about prescribing antibiotics. Many now urge parents to monitor minor illnesses before requesting antibiotics, allowing the body to fight for itself without interference.
In fact, a 2019 study studied children born between 2006 and 2013 and found that when children were prescribed antibiotics several times in the first two years of life, they were much more likely to be obese later in childhood.
And other studies have found that children who are not frequently prescribed antibiotics have greater resistance to allergens and respiratory illnesses as they grow.
The risk of asthma in children prescribed antibiotics in infancy lead to a shocking statistic – they were nearly twice as likely to develop asthma.
Diets consisting of vegetables and fruits and other plant-based ingredients, as well as the avoidance of refined, processed foods – including white bread, flour, and anything sugary – is one of the main takeaways for giving our bodies the tools they need to keep the microbial system well-balanced.
So, breastfeed if you are able, keep the whole family healthy with proper diet, get out and move around, and avoid unnatural products that contain chemicals that can alter the body’s natural microbiome.
Here’s to a great start for our little ones!
(h/t Mommy Underground)