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(StatePoint) In the last 10 years, scientists have learned that having enough beneficial gut bacteria is a critical component of overall health. Now, research shows that ensuring newborns have sufficient exposure to probiotic bacteria during infancy and early childhood can give them a head start on lifelong wellness.
What makes bacteria so important? Well, with nearly 80 percent of the immune system residing in the gut, a healthy microbial makeup from birth is essential for proper immune system development and optimal digestive, metabolic, and brain function.
When looking to encourage a healthy infant microbiome (AKA the array of bacteria and microorganisms in the body), science tells us that the mother’s gut health is key.
Here’s how it works: during pregnancy, babies are exposed to their mother’s bacteria in the placenta, which harbors a variety of microbes. A baby’s immune system begins to develop just after birth, during which a mother passes on her beneficial bacteria to her child (often termed “seeding the microbiome”) as he or she passes through the vaginal canal and partakes in breast milk and skin-to-skin contact.
Then, through an interactive connection between host cells and the baby’s brand new gut microbiome (inherited directly from the mother), helpful microorganisms selectively colonize the gut and participate in the maintenance and promotion of the child’s immune system.
Expecting and nursing mothers can be proactive by ensuring their gut health is in tip-top condition, since the microbes they pass on to their infant can help establish a solid foundation for lifelong health.
In addition to directly replenishing their good bacteria, moms should do their best to stay well-rested and properly hydrated while paying close attention to their diet. Focusing on getting proper prenatal nutrition in the form of whole and plant-based foods, especially those rich in prebiotic fiber is important. It’s also helpful to be mindful of factors that deplete good bacteria, like antimicrobials, stress, environmental toxins and exposure to unnecessary antibiotics.
Many doctors, midwives and other experts are touting the health benefits of one supplement for expecting and new mothers believed to increase a child’s chances for a healthy start at life: probiotics.
“As a mom, the best gift you can give your baby is a healthy microbiome,” says Jamie Morea, co-founder of Hyperbiotics, a company that specializes in probiotic supplements and has developed the first probiotic formula designed specifically for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Hyperbiotics PRO-Moms includes time-release delivery for enhanced effectiveness, ensuring the living organisms survive stomach acids to colonize within the gut.
Not only can probiotics help with digestive discomfort during pregnancy, but an effective supplement can repopulate a mother’s system and help ensure she is passing on the best and most beneficial bacteria to her children.
To learn more about how to support optimal gut health for moms and babies, visit hyperbiotics.com or join the conversation on social media at #followyourgut.
Because gut and microbial health have an overwhelming impact on lifelong wellness, tending to it while expecting is one of the most important things to consider for mothers-to-be in order to properly pave the path of health for little ones.
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