Probiotics for all Stages of Life
A Probiotic Voyage Inside the Body
From Birth to Adulthood, and How it Can Change Life
You’ve heard the same record play the same health tune over and over: In order to be healthy and live a longer life, you need to eat healthy, be physically and mentally active, watch your stress level, and have a strong social network of friends.
But do you know that even after all that, it still may not be enough?
Let’s change the record. Because for many people, the root cause of illnesses, fatigue, stress and other ailments is not just being an unsociable couch slug with a poor diet. The root cause is an imbalance of gut bacteria: Having more bad bacteria than good (probiotics).
Let’s take what you already know about gut bacteria and go on a fantastic voyage inside the human body – from birth to adulthood – and how bad and good bacteria can change a human being’s life in so many ways.
Our voyage begins with Emma. She’s been in her mother’s womb for 38 weeks. Her time to enter the world kicking and screaming is now. But, like roughly 32% of births in the U.S., she will come through a c-section. Because of this, she will not receive the amount of healthy gut bacteria (probiotics) had she come through her mother’s vaginal canal.
Normally, a baby gets probiotics during the passage down the mother’s vaginal canal. – being it in and swallowing some. The baby picks up even more probiotics from mom through breastfeeding. This paves the way for future health – all the way into old age, when an aging human needs probiotics the most.
Babies born vaginally developed bacterial cultures similar to those in their mothers’ vagina, which are mainly lactobacillus. This is one of many healthy bacteria species. Those born by c-section developed bacterial cultures similar to those on their mothers’ skin. The lactobacillus strains help to protect the baby’s health.
(A strain is a subdivision of a micro-organism. Like a virus, bacterium or fungus. For example, a flu strain is a certain biological form of the influenza or flu virus.)
But no worries for Emma. Her mother has an exceptional obstetrician. After Emma makes her grand appearance, the obstetrician swabs her down with a gauze that has been in her mom’s bacteria-filled vagina. This insures that Emma will have the necessary healthy bacteria to outnumber the unhealthy bacteria – the kind of unhealthy bacteria that causes asthma, allergies, and other future health issues.
Probiotics also stimulates her system to produce white blood cells and other immune system components, including antibodies to deal with any disease-causing microorganisms that may be heading her way.
Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, Ph.D., an assistant professor and microbiome researcher at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, is testing a fast and easy work-around called the “gauze-in-the-vagina technique.”
It’s exactly what it sounds like: doctors soak a gauze pad in the mother’s vagina for one hour and remove it just before her c-section. When doctors remove the baby from the womb, they quickly swab him or her from head to toe with the gauze.
Dominguez-Bello says that this doubles the number of vaginal bacteria c-section newborns get.
Unfortunately, many babies have an imbalance of gut bacteria (the bad outnumbering the good). When this happens, unusual germs appear, which the immune system doesn’t like. Then a low-grade, long-lasting inflammatory response directed at these intruders begins. Quite often this leads to a weakness and “leakiness” of the intestinal lining. Proteins and carbohydrates that normally would not be absorbed from the intestinal contents—including large, incompletely digested food molecules—make their way into the infant’s bloodstream.
To make a very long story short, inflammation and the abnormal processing of food that results appear to increase the risk of asthma and eczema—and diabetes, obesity, and other chronic conditions—later in life.
Of course other things can be the cause, like genetics, but it usually begins in the gut.
Life jumps seven years, where Emma is now in school, learning her three Rs and dealing with boys who tease her.
A few of the other students in Emma’s class are finding it hard to focus and sit still for any length of time. They don’t know that their behavior and attention span could be because of the lack of probiotics in their gut, among other things.
But Emma, with her strong immune and central nervous systems, likes school; she likes to learn. She will take this quality with her all the way through life.
At thirty something, Emma is a bit perplexed. She doesn’t feel young, but she doesn’t feel old. She takes an audit of her life up to now. She takes a hard look at the person she is sleeping with, her career, her home, her bank account, and especially her health. Because her mother knew about the value of having probiotics growing up, Emma is healthy, which, in turn, she is well-off and wise. And she wants to keep it that way. Her healthy diet, along with being active, helps support not only her thirtysomething body, but especially her brain. This will come in handy as she gets older and having to deal with age-related issues.
Emma is also well aware of the food-mood connection that so many others take for granted. Anxiety and stress starts in the brain, and works its way down the body, so having more probiotics helps support Emma during trying times.
DID YOU KNOW?
There really is a brain-gut connection.
Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback about how hungry we are, whether or not we’re experiencing stress, or if we’ve ingested a disease-causing microbe. This information superhighway is called the brain-gut axis.
You know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach at times? Yup, it could very well be the brain-gut connection at work.
Emma also has more energy and drive, because probiotics helps break down toxins in her body, strengthens her immune and central nervous systems, and helps her body absorb more milligrams of vitamins and minerals. The probiotics also outnumbers the bad bacteria, which would drain her body’s overall energy level.
Dr. Seuss is quoted as saying, “How did it get so late so soon?”
Before she knows it, Emma finds herself at 60 years old. She has had her ups and downs in life, with a lot of downs. She went through a bad breakup, during a recession she lost a job she loved and lost a friend she loved even more. If you think about it, there is a good need for probiotics for all stages of life.
But she still kept her spirits up by continuing to be more active and having a good diet. She hasn’t forgotten nor has she taken for granted her health after this many years.
Research has shown that most age-related health issues, including arthritis, dementia, stroke, has been linked to chronic inflammation. And in many cases, the chronic inflammation has been linked to not having enough probiotics in the gut. When “foreign invaders” enter our body because there aren’t enough probiotics to keep watch and defend, our immune system lets loose with a barrage of inflammation that can do more harm than good.
Bad bacteria can also multiply, making the lining of the gut more permeable, allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream where they can travel around the body with various negative effects.
As we get older, our body gets weaker, our probiotic count also goes down, and we can’t absorb as many milligrams of nutrients. So, just like the day we were born, it’s vital that we have a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
At 80+ years old, life is winding down for Emma, but it was a good one. A healthy one. It still is. Her diet, along with her spunk, has supported her against age-related health issues associated with inflammatory response, her nervous system, heart, joints and eyes.
This, combined with regular exercise, gives her peace of mind in knowing that she is able to take better care of herself and keep her independence as long as possible.
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