We all know by now we are more microbe than human. The Human Gut Microbiome Project provided us in-depth information and details about the vast community of microbes that collectively form an ecosystem that is vital to our health. The average human being has about 100 trillion of these organisms at any given time. Although most are located in your lower intestines, you’re literally bathed and surrounded by microbes that have a vast array of metabolic roles in the body.
Understanding your gut microbiome is vitally important to take action and live a healthy life!
This is especially true for people suffering from obesity, diabetes, the metabolic syndrome, chronic diseases of digestive system, autoimmune disease, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular disease and so much more.
The gut microbiome is a living and breathing ecosystem, its dynamic and constantly shifting and changing in response it its environment.
We are born with a gut microbiome that is determined early in infancy by the rapid colonization by maternal microbes. The first few years of childhood determines the constitutive communities of bacteria which directs immune system development and have been shown to prevent or portent towards a number of allergic and autoimmune conditions.
Several studies have shown that birthing via the vaginal canal fosters the acquisition of Lactobacilli and other microbes that being the process of colonization.
Science in the News
The New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study
Cesarean delivery has been associated with an increased risk for obesity, asthma, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes mellitus, whereas breastfeeding has been related to decreased risks for illnesses such as asthma, obesity, infection, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes compared with formula feeding.
Breast feeding fosters the development of a healthy gut ecology in a number of ways by providing prebiotics for the developing friendly flora but also providing immunoglobulins and Bifidobacterium to the developing infant’s microbiome.
Investigators studies the combination of formula feeding in the breast fed infant does not support the proper development of the gut microbiome in infants in a study published in JAMA Pediatrics.
This study was conducted by a number of investigators led by Dr. Juliette Madan from Dartmouth University evaluated the gut microbiome of 102 infants born via C-section (32) and via vaginal delivery (70). In the first 6 weeks of life, 70 were exclusively breastfed, 26 received combination feeding, and 6 were exclusively formula fed. The gut microbiome biodiversity of infants were significantly different in those born by C-section when compared to those born via vaginal delivery. Likewise significant differences in gut microbiome biodiversity also existed for those who were breast fed vs. formula fed independent of mode of birth.
A previous study from Venezuela showed that the infants’ intestinal tracts colonize within hours of delivery by Lactobacillus whereas C-section is with skin microbes such as Staphylococcus. The Dartmouth-based group found that by 6 weeks Bifidobacterium emerged as a more dominant microbe compared to Lactobacillus.
Per the authors:
“The infant intestinal microbiome at approximately 6 weeks of age is significantly associated with both delivery mode and feeding method, and the supplementation of breast milk feeding with formula is associated with a microbiome composition that resembles that of infants who are exclusively formula fed. These results may inform feeding choices and shed light on the mechanisms behind the lifelong health consequences of delivery and infant feeding modalities.”
So the lesson from this Science in the News is to feed your infants with 100% breast milk if at all possible as introducing infant formula during the first 6 weeks of life will be counterproductive.
Another interesting article published February 1, 2016 in Nature Medicine showed that dabbling infants delivered by C-section with vaginal secretions helps improve the infants gut microbiome development compared to those who were not.
Furthermore, there is recent data showing that the transition of early infant feeding to family foods is a major determinant for the development of the baby’s gut microbiome.
Scientists from the University of Denmark analyzed the gut microbiotas of two populations of infants, one born from a random sample of healthy mothers (n=114) and the other born from obese mothers (n =113). The researchers analyzed stool samples from the children at nine months (the transition to family foods) and 18 months.
The results were eye-opening! Once would have expected that the maternal weight status would be the driving factor in the child’s gut microbiome.
Per the authors:
“We found that maternal obesity did not influence microbial diversity or specific taxon abundances during the complementary feeding period. Across cohorts, breastfeeding duration and composition of the complementary diet were found to be the major determinants of gut microbiota development. In both cohorts, gut microbial composition and alpha diversity were thus strongly affected by introduction of family foods with high protein and fiber contents.”
“Our results reveal that the transition from early infant feeding to family foods is a major determinant for gut microbiota development.”
Recommendation: Increased alpha diversity means a higher complexity, robustness and health of the biological ecosystem. Fiber is a magic fertilizer for the growth of good gut bugs-the lesson here is to start feeding your children with fermentable foods and high quality proteins.
Birth via Caesarean–section (C-section) on the other hand, involves the acquisition of skin microbes and maternal antibiotics have been shown to be present in babies at birth-not a good way to start a gut ecosystem.
There are many outcome studies of how babies born by C-section are at a disadvantage. I recently spoke at Johns Hopkins Women’s Journey about The Gut Balance Revolution and discussed the influence of mode of birth to the infants’ health and well-being. I also spoke of how antibiotics and the harmful foods that have antibiotics within them destabilize our gut ecosystem but can be stabilized and rebalanced with a strategic food-based approach.
There are many experts who have written and taught in this crucial area of health and collectively have come together to provide a one of a kind summit to shine a guiding light to the public of how to live better, more healthy lives by growing a good gut garden!!
The Microbiome Medicine Summit will give advice on the importance of leveraging the “good” bacteria in your body to develop a natural immunity to your most challenging health issues. Join Dr Gerry Mullin and 32 experts at The Microbiome Medicine Summit on Feb. 29 – Mar. 7!
Raphael Kellman, MD, created The Microbiome Medicine Summit to present ground-breaking information and a whole new perspective that could help you improve your health and spark your vitality!
Register for FREE now here.
The Microbiome Medicine Summit will teach you about:
- Strengthening your immune system
- Reducing inflammation
- Impacting genetic expression
- Improving metabolism
- Controlling caloric absorption
- Guiding your brain
- And more!
Attend and listen to the following experts (33 total!).
- Gerard Mullin, MD
- Deepak Chopra, MD
- Mark Hyman, MD
- David Perlmutter, MD
- Amy Myers, MD
- Larry Dossey MD
- Leo Galland MD
- Expert Talk #1: Healing the Skin with Essential Oils by Dr. Eric Zielinski
- Expert Talk #2: Macro Implications of the Microbiome by Sayer Ji
The Microbiome Medicine Summit is online and free from February 29 – March 7, 2016!