Why having and healthy gut microbe from birth is important for the rest of the child life and in adults too.
You have a narrow window where the good microbe needs to colonize the intestinal tract, if that goes then the fate of the health of the child might be set. This is according to studies; however, I think you can change the entire colony, with the dietary healthy choices, a set of positive healthy mind affirmation and attitude to life and healing the old patterns!
According to the latest research, the intestinal bacteria and the ecosystem of each of them can drive the behaviour of the babies and children in their adulthood. Our intestinal tract ecosystem is essential for health. I know that any disruption to the intestinal barrier and protection can lead to major diseases and disorders. This can be combined with slow detox from the liver that is genetically compromised. Many also do not know how well or badly their liver detoxifies which it means when they consume a lot of toxins they might get rid of it quickly or very slowly. This includes their own internal hormones.
In many latest studies the intestinal microbes shape the human behaviour. According to the Cochrane collective research of Dinan (1) there is a bidirectional communication between the gut microbes and the brain which happens via one of the cranial nerves that is essential for the digestive system to work well and also for relaxing the entire body and mind. This is called the vagus nerve. According to his research, he found that this nerve acts also as anti-inflammatory. So, if you are under a lot of stress and your stress mode from the sympathetic division is on, you will have a lot of inflammation caused by higher histamine level and also by the stress process. This stress mode can be activated in children and babies too, depends on what shock and trauma they had from birth, which might be minimal for an adult but big for a baby.
In order for the inflammation to go down, for the immune system to do his job and get rid of any viral infection that are on your way, the parasympathetic division the vagus nerve needs to be on. In a nutshell you need to have more relaxed mind and healthy gut microbe if you want to be healthy for a long time.
The reason why there is this big connection with the brain and the gut microbe is that many of the good gut microbes rely on the activity of the vagal nerve to be functioning well and stay alive, or to communicate with each other for their activity. It seems also that the immune system is also influenced directly by the good friendly bacteria. This connection of the brain, immune system and gut is very much influenced by the so called “Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenal axis (HPA)”, which communicate with each other during the stress response by releasing hormones that can shut down part of the immune system. The reason that the probiotics, including the Bifidobacterium infantis from birth, helps with the brain activity, is because bacteria release certain metabolites that in turn are used by either the intestinal tract for its cellular repair or for the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain which includes dopamine, serotonin precursors such as 5HTP and many more.
How that is circulated back to the brain it is not quite clear yet, but it seems that certain nutrients go through the blood brain barrier and therefore into the needed neurons and brain cells.
In babies, as far as we know the infant intestinal tract at birth is sterile, even though that seems to be questioned right now. The infant gets its first bacteria from a normal delivery through the birth canal, so the health of the mother vaginal bacteria is important during pregnancy or before pregnancy. There is a question about bacteria also be passed on in water birth (even though very healthy and nice to experience for both mother and baby). After birth the colonization of the intestinal tract depend on being breastfed or if taking antibiotics after birth. It seems that the when a baby is bottle fed, the colonization of the intestinal tract bacteria is differently promoted than in breastfed babies.
Hence my suggestions for babies who had C-section, waterbirth and had antibiotics (before birth through the mother as well and afterbirth), and bottle-fed baby to have the Bifido infantis in order to start the colonization with the good appropriate bacteria. Also, nowadays many formulas do add baby bacteria in them.
Many of the studies have shown that there is a window of opportunity for the baby to have a healthy colonization of the gut up to 2 and half years. This grounding healthy bacteria will pave the way for a healthy mind for their entire life.
There are many more research connecting the good intestinal bacteria with the health of the brain and also to the immune system. It has also been suggested that the good healthy gut bacteria might be involved in the autistic behaviour in some children. Even though this has not yet been proven completely in humans, it is worth to have a healthy gut from the beginning as there is a possibility that having a healthy gut from birth might prevent the opportunistic bacteria to do some damage to the intestinal tract and hence the health of the child.
I have seen many people also having some major problems when they had a lot of antibiotics as an adult and their gut ecosystem has changed, which has left them with Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms and a bit of altered emotional state.
As I have been hearing and seeing since 1998 when I started my University that a healthy gut is the major prevention for a healthy mind and body, I am a big promoter of making everybody have a healthy gut at all times, and I have seen the change in many people when they do that. The fact is that if babies start with a healthy gut, their choice of food also changes, as will tend to go for a healthy snack or meals, while if the intestinal tract is higher in yeast or other harmful bacteria then the child and adult will go more for the sugary foods and unhealthy food in general.
If there the majority of the diet is geared towards a healthy choices than the friendly and beneficial gut bacteria will thrive more than the other, leading to a healthy life and prevention of illness and disorders.
- Dinan G. T. et al (2015). Collective unconscious: How gut microbes shape human behaviour. Journal of psychiatric research 1-9.
- Moschopoulos C. et al (2018) The Neurodevelopmental Perspective of Surgical Necrotizing Enterocolitis: The Role of the Gut-Brain Axis. Hindawi Mediators of Inflammation. Volume 2018, Article ID 7456857, 8 pages.
- Lerner A. et al (2017). The Gut Microbiome Feelings of the Brain: A Perspective for Non-Microbiologists. 5, 66.
Maria Esposito BSc (Hons) R-Nutritional Therapist – NAET – R-Craniosacral Therapist