When you were little and living with your mom, your microbiome was probably closer to hers than after you moved out. Studies show similar microbiome profiles between individuals that lived in close interaction with each other. They had more similar skin and gut microbiomes with each other than even with their relatives that they didn’t live with. When mom made you your favorite comfort food, she was also sharing her beneficial and probiotic bacteria with you. That special chicken soup probably also had some of her immune-supporting Bifidobacterium probiotic species to help you get over the sniffles faster.
Regardless of what stage you and your child are: pregnant & preparing for a possible C-section, freshly post C-section and trying to breastfeed, or introducing your toddler to a wider variety of foods, there are a host of ways to help your child develop the healthiest gut possible.
Pregnant Moms: Motherhood Starts Here
With all the changes that your body undergoes when it’s growing a baby, how your gut microbiome is shifting probably isn’t at the top of the list. However, more and more research is coming to light about how important the role of a healthy gut microbiome is to the health of your little one. Here are some of the ways that a woman’s gut microbiome shifts naturally during pregnancy and some food recommendations that you can drive it towards a healthy microbiome for you and your little one before you give birth.
It’s not much of a surprise that the typical Western diet, one that is high in saturated fat, processed sugars, and salt, isn’t one that will best promote a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. What does help to promote a healthy microbiome is a diet that includes low-fat protein (beans, lean beef), unsaturated fatty acids (olive oils, avocado, flaxseeds, salmon), organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains and probiotics according to recent studies.
Increasing dietary fiber would not only help to relieve constipation during pregnancy, but also provides essential prebiotic nutrients for healthy gut flora so don’t be afraid to double your kale intake. Naturally fermented foods are also important to incorporate into your diet when pregnant. Feel free to branch out from the mainstay of yogurt and explore kefir, miso, and even kimchi. These probiotic-rich foods can help to reduce elevated blood pressure (essential for preventing pre-eclampsia) as well as improving your mood.
If you’re thinking it might be hard to make dietary changes when so much is changing already during pregnancy, just remember that you’re saving yourself a lot of trouble down the road. At 21 weeks into gestation, a baby has already developed his/her taste buds and will be developing a taste for all these nutritious foods. By introducing your child to healthy foods early, you may also be shaping their likes before they’re even born.
Moms of Newborns, Toddlers, and Up
We all want to give our children the best, and that includes giving them the healthiest start to life. What we are also learning, is how we can help our little ones cultivate a strong and healthy microbiome, even if mom isn’t able to produce enough breastmilk or if the delivery was C-section instead of vaginal, or even if the delivery was preterm.
Babies are sterile inside of the womb and only begin to develop their own microbiome at the moment of birth when they’re introduced to the outside world. Ideally, they are bathed in a fabulous cocktail of vaginal microbiota from head to toe and then minutes later are popped onto the breast where their pristine guts are colonized immediately with the antibody-rich golden nectar of prebiotic-rich colostrum. It’s not long before that colostrum gives way to breastmilk that contains a probiotic strain that is so connected to human baby’s gut health that it is believed to have co-evolved with humans – Bifidobacterium longum infantis. They help to modulate our immune systems, keep the lining of our gut strong and healthy, and alleviate the symptoms of:
The breastmilk is so powerful, that even the smallest amount given to your baby, even after a C-section, can offset the negative effects of missing out on the microbial benefits of vaginal birth. Turns out that pumping also falls behind on the scale of the beneficial microbial transfer. The strains of bacteria and yeast that live on your skin are introduced to baby once they begin breastfeeding and help to protect them from harmful bacteria that want to take up residence.
Later on, when the baby begins to take on more solid foods, it’s definitely beneficial to include some probiotic foods like yogurt or kefir in order to establish a healthy microbiome early. Some studies have even shown that introducing prebiotics (in this case: oligofructose, galacto-oligosaccharides, and lactulose) into breastmilk or formula can help to increase probiotic diversity during the transition from milk to solid foods. Other recent studies have looked at even a single probiotic strain supplementation and have found that to be highly beneficial at helping pre-term infants gain weight and develop healthy metabolisms.
After your little one starts eating solid foods, try a very wide variety of fruits, vegetables, beans (don’t forget hummus), and probiotic foods (yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha). You may be surprised by what they like! Young children also receive beneficial and probiotic organisms from other members of the household and the healthier mom’s gut microbiome is, the more likely she is to transfer some good microbes to her family members. So, the next time someone comments about you sharing your food with your little one, just tell them that you're sharing your Bifidobacterium as well.
Where Floré Comes in…
Another way you can help not only your gut health but your child’s as well is to take custom probiotics. Our probiotics are formulated based on your unique DigestiveDNA, so they’re personalized just for you. If you’re pregnant, this would help transfer those good probiotic organisms to your baby. For moms who have newborns, toddlers, and up, custom probiotics can help if they suffer from any digestive issues, food allergies, or even colic. Our Tots formula comes in an easy to digest formula as well. Once we have both of your tests, we lab-craft formulas for each of you. You can access your results, health and wellness recommendations, and more on our mobile app or online portal.