Breastmilk and Probiotics
Updated: Sep 29, 2019
So what are probiotics and how does our baby get them?
Probiotics are defined as live organisms that provide health benefits when consumed by improving and restoring gut flora (gut microbiome).
Breastmilk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are the main form of sugars that make up the content of breastmilk, they are exclusive to breastmilk and cannot be found in any other food source (aka not found in formula) .
One of the main benefits of these oligosaccharides is that they are indeed probiotics ---they nourish the good bacteria within the infant's gut therefore helping the development and sustainability of their gut microbiome.
What is the gut microbiome again?
It is more than just a trendy, health buzz word--- the body has many separate microbiomes that live on certain areas of the body in order to aid organ function and prevent illness.
One of the most important microbiomes (as well as most easily influenced) is the gut microbiome. Tiny 'good' bacteria found in the gut work to fight disease and promote increased nutritional absorption to promote optimal health. By doing so, the 'good' bacteria also prevents the growth harmful 'bad' bacteria.
Your gut microbiome is essential when maximizing overall health--- and it is JUST AS essential for your infant. The probiotics found in breastmilk prepare them for maximized immunity and growth.
Please note: The difference between infants who consume breastmilk and those who consume formula is significant. Infants that exclusively breastfeed are less likely to develop viral and bacterial infections, necrotizing enterocolitis, asthma, and allergies later on in life.
And for the Mamas...
Studies are now suggesting that women taking a probiotic supplement (or whom increase probiotics through food such as; yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, tempeh, etc.) throughout pregnancy and lactation may positively affect the composition of the HMO's in their own breastmilk. Of course this would not only positively affect the mother's gut microbiome --- but also that of her infant's through her breastmilk.
To learn more, check out our website here!
Until next time!
Cassie and Mikayla
Mamas Maternal Health Dietitians/Lactation Counselors
Photo by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash
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