Women’s Health

estrogen, Mom health, bones, stress

baby looking up at a baloon

Give Your Baby a Gut-Healthy Start

As you know, infants receive many health benefits when their Moms are able to make some simple gut-smart health choices via breastfeeding and vaginal delivery.

But how does natural childbirth and breastfeeding really benefit an infant and why?

It’s very possible those beneficial bacteria introduced first into the gut have a head start and make a lasting and healthy impression, according to new research from a group of American and Canadian scientists featured in the journal eLife.

Scientists came to this conclusion by transplanting four different species of gut bacteria from older mice into the gastrointestinal tracts of young, genetically identical mice raised in a germ-free environment.

The primary takeaway: The gut bacterial diversity of younger mice over several months eventually resembled or was often dominated by the species that was transplanted in them first in repeated experiments.

That’s an intriguing outcome, considering genetics, environment, diet, physiology and lifestyle — all important factors to human health on their own — only account for less than 30 percent of any variations of the gut microbiome, says Dr. Jens Walter of the University of Alberta.

“Each of us harbors a microbiome that is vastly distinct, even for identical twins. Microbiomes are important for our health, but they appear to be shaped by many unknown factors, so it’s hugely important to understand why we are all different.”

Not only does this research show how the introduction and timing of bacteria in newborns could grow and dominate, it may also provide a bridge to better understand how the microbiome may be disrupted and harmed due to the use of antibiotics or C-section deliveries.

Dr. Walter believes science will figure out ways that infants can be colonized with specific bacteria that will steer their health in beneficial ways, but even he speculates that’s a 30-40-year journey.

Until that time comes (if ever), there are steps new Moms can take to protect the gut health of their babies right now, even if natural childbirth isn’t possible.

Breastfeeding is a great first step, as it provides the right mix of fats, protein and vitamins for newborns along with antibodies that boost their growing immune systems.

Unfortunately, some new Moms may not be able to breastfeed for as long as they planned or can’t due to health problems. Plus, their babies may be missing out human milk oligosaccharides (HMO), the largest solid component of breast milk apart from fat and carbohydrates and a natural prebiotic component of breast milk.

In these cases, new Moms may want to consider giving their babies a multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Jr. Powder (recommended for young children up to age 3) that contains four strains of beneficial bacteria along with a natural prebiotic (FOS) that feeds their growing gut microbiomes.

Before you consider giving your newborn a probiotic, always talk to your pediatrician or doctor first.

someone sitting down showing a jagged spine

Taking a Probiotic May Protect Your Bones From Osteoporosis

Many people assume bone health is a condition only older adults need to worry about. That’s not a surprise, considering how harmful falls can be to seniors.

However, you may be shocked to learn that people reach their peak bone mass by age 30, and your body begins to lose more bone than it rebuilds after that.

Many variables affect bone health, from hormone levels and gender to specific medications and how much you smoke or consume alcohol.

Fortunately, there’s some really simple things you can do to protect the health of your bones, like staying physically active and making sure your body gets the right amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

Considering adding a daily probiotic to the list of preventative measures to protect your bone health, based on a recent study featured in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at Sahlgrenska University Hospital (Sweden) came to that conclusion after monitoring the bone health of 90 older women (average age 76) who took a probiotic containing a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus or a placebo for 12 months.

Women who received the active probiotic lost only half as much bone compared to patients taking the placebo, based on comparisons of CT scans taken before supplementation began and after it ended.

There’s one important advantage probiotics offer that bisphosphonates (a class of drugs typically prescribed by doctors for bone density loss) don’t: Probiotics would reduce the rare but very serious risks of side effects linked to the long-term use of these drugs, like fractures to the jaw bone and possibly more common ones like heartburn.

“Today, there are effective medications administered to treat osteoporosis, but because bone fragility is rarely detected before the first fracture, there is a pressing need for preventive treatments,” says Dr. Mattias Lorentzon, a chief physician and professor of geriatrics at the Sahlgrenska Academy.

“The fact that we have been able to show that treatment with probiotics can affect bone loss represents a paradigm shift. Treatment with probiotics can be an effective and safe way to prevent the onset of osteoporosis in many older people in the future.”

The results of this study are less surprising than you might assume, given research we’ve discussed previously about poor dietary habits harming one’s gut health and triggering auto-inflammatory bone disease.

Imagine what taking a more robust probiotic with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic could do to make a healthy difference in your gut and your bones.

group of woman smiling together after a hike

Estrogen Therapy Affects Women’s Gut Health

There are many reasons why women take estrogen therapy as they approach menopause, from relieving related symptoms leading up to and following menopause to improving vaginal health and guarding against bone loss.

Just like other drugs, taking synthetic estrogen has an effect on the microbial makeup, balance and activity in a woman’s gut too.

Moreover, this activity may affect how a specific enzyme in the gut — B-glucuronidase (GUS) — metabolizes synthetic estrogens in the gut, according to recent findings from a University of Illinois study featured in Scientific Reports.

Scientists made this discovery while conducting tests on five groups of female mice treated with various estrogens either alone or with bazedoifene (an estrogen-receptor drug). These test animals also had their ovaries removed and were fed high-fat diets.

What does this discovery mean for women taking estrogen? Depending on a woman’s gut health, it could affect how efficiently her body metabolizes estrogen.

Although the overall diversity of these test animals didn’t change significantly, levels of some bacteria did decrease along with some associated with the GUS enzyme, including Akkermansia.

This finding was fascinating to researchers because this specific bacterial family is linked to anti-inflammatory properties in humans.

Results from some fecal samples in mice treated with estrogen and bazedoifene showed significantly lower levels of Akkermansia. On the other hand, animals with higher levels of Akkermansia had larger livers, more estrogen and gained more weight.

“Our findings indicate that clinicians might be able to manipulate the gut biome through probiotics to change the half-life and properties of estrogens so that long-term users obtain the therapeutic benefits of estrogen-replacement therapy without increasing their risks of reproductive cancers,” says Dr. Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, lead researcher and director of the University of Illinois’ Women’s Health, Hormones and Nutrition Lab.

Gut diversity + estrogen does matter

You may be skeptical that gut health has any bearing on a woman’s ability to metabolize estrogen and, after all, the University of Illinois study focuses on mice.

However, a 2014 study of postmenopausal women determined gut health — specifically gut diversity — does matter.

In fact, postmenopausal women whose gut health is diverse may be more able to break down estrogen, which could reduce their risks of breast cancer, according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

These findings were based on an analysis of urine and fecal samples taken from 60 postmenopausal women between ages 55-69 in Colorado with healthy mammograms.

“Our findings suggest a relationship between the diversity of the bacterial community in the gut, which theoretically can be altered with changes in diet or some medications, and future risk of developing breast cancer,” says Dr. James Goedert of the National Cancer Institute who worked on the study, according to a press release.

“But we are hopeful that because the microbiome can change the way the body processes estrogens, it may one day offer a target for breast cancer prevention.”

The takeaway from these studies, especially if you’re a woman taking estrogen, is that it’s important for women, young and not so young, who take estrogen to pay much closer attention to their gut health.

Fortunately, the best way to maintain a healthy mix of bacteria in your gut may be easier than you think. Taking a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria, plus a prebiotic (food for the bacteria in your gut), can do a world of good for your health, and how your body uses estrogen.

a mother holding her bareskin baby

Protect Your Baby’s Health From Allergies Early

One of the best things an expecting mom can do to protect the health of her baby from all kinds of health problems, even before he or she is born, is to take a probiotic.

An extensive meta-analysis of studies by researchers at Imperial College London published recently in PLOS Medicine supports those benefits, showing how probiotics and fish oil may reduce problems in a baby’s early days with eczema and allergies.

Out of more than 400 studies that were examined, 28 trials determined moms who took a probiotic from the 36th week of their pregnancies, then for up to six months while breastfeeding, lowered by 22 percent their baby’s risks of eczema, a skin condition that causes the skin to be irritated or inflamed.

Overall, up to 20 percent of infants are affected eczema, which shows up as patches of red, dry or itchy skin.

Many of the probiotics identified by researchers in their meta-analysis contained Lactobacillus rhamnosus, one of 10 strains of beneficial bacteria found in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

A similar pre-birth benefit was discovered by moms who took fish oil daily. Starting from the 20th week of their pregnancies up to four months of breastfeeding, babies avoided common allergies to eggs by a nifty 30 percent.

Interestingly, a mom’s avoidance of foods like nuts, dairy and eggs during her pregnancy made no difference in her baby’s risks of experiencing allergies or eczema.

Your breastfeeding wakeup call

At this juncture, It’s good to remind moms that breastfeeding (along with natural delivery) does a great deal of good for the health of their newborns, as it gives them an extra gut health boost that helps their tiny bodies fight off diseases naturally.

While most experts recommend that moms breastfeed their newborns for as long as they’re able — the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 12 months — even the best choices can fall by the wayside due to unexpected health concerns, like a caesarean (C-section) delivery.

However, moms who can’t breastfeed as long as they planned or at all can do a lot to protect the health of their babies, just by giving them a probiotic made just for them, like EndoMune Jr. Powder recommended for children up to age 3.

Like its “big brother,” EndoMune Jr. Chewable, EndoMune Jr. Powder contains four strains of beneficial bacteria from the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus families along with a prebiotic (FOS) that feeds the growing and diverse group of critters in your baby’s gut.

a woman holding a baby

Help Your C-Section Baby With Breastfeeding and Probiotics

Nearly a third of all babies born in America are delivered via C-section (Cesarean), surgery that brings an infant into the world through incisions in a woman’s uterus and abdomen.

There are many reasons why your obstetrician may recommend a C-section, especially if your baby isn’t getting enough oxygen or your baby isn’t positioned head first in the birth canal (breech or transverse).

Yet, a fair number of women request C-sections merely for the sake of avoiding labor or convenience, and even some hospitals tend to encourage them.

As common as C-sections are, they do come with long-term health risks for your baby via problems with their tiny gut microbiome, according to a recent Canadian study appearing in JAMA Pediatrics.

Gut health a factor

This study from the University of Alberta (Canada) tracked the health of 935 pairs of Moms and their babies to determine if C-section deliveries made babies more prone to obesity, paying close attention to babies born to overweight Moms.

Compared to being born naturally by a Mom of a healthy weight, babies born to overweight women were three times more likely to be overweight at ages 1 and 3.

Those risks of early weight problems for babies exploded to a factor of five among overweight women delivering their babies via C-section.

While examining infant gut microbiomes, scientists found a major gut health disparity – larger amounts of Lachnospiraceae — in babies born by overweight women and those delivered via C-section.

“Given that infant overweight and obesity are a major public health problem, our results reinforce increasing concerns over rising Cesarean deliveries and affirm the role of the gut microbiota as a ‘super organ’ with diverse roles in health and disease,” says lead study author Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, according to a press release.

Probiotics and breast milk

If a Cesarean may be the best health choice for a new Mom, what can she do to protect her newborn from obesity? In a recent interview with the New York Times, Dr. Kozyrskyj mentions breastfeeding as an effective tool.

In fact, breastfeeding in tandem with a beneficial probiotic may do just the trick, according to research appearing in mSphere from the University of California, Davis.

Scientists tracked the health of 66 breastfed babies over several months. A little more than half of the infants were treated with a subspecies of Bifidobacterium longum (one of four strains of beneficial bacteria found in EndoMune Jr. Powder and EndoMune Jr. Chewable) for three weeks, while the remainder received no extra probiotic help.

Compared to the smaller group, larger amounts of the Bifidobacterium longum subspecies were found in fecal samples taken from babies treated with the probiotic. Plus, those beneficial concentrations remained intact for at least 30 days after the probiotic period ended (and were still thriving up to six months later).

The probiotic babies had lower amounts of potentially harmful pathogens and high levels of acetate and lactate, important, beneficial products produced by the fermentation of human breast milk sugars by the Bifidobacterium subspecies.

Even more revealing were the changes in the gut health of babies born via C-section versus vaginally. In the beginning, both groups of infants were colonized by different gut bacteria.

After both groups were given the same Bifidobacterium longum subspecies, the microbiomes of the C-section group began to resemble that of the naturally born infant group.

“The probiotic was able to eliminate the differences inherent to C-section delivery,” lead study author Dr. Mark Underwood told Popular Science.

So, what if Mom can’t breastfeed? Dr. Underwood suggests giving your baby a three-week course of this probiotic and a formula with added human milk oligosaccharides could help with colonization and may continue as long as he/she is on that formula.

Before you consider giving your newborn a probiotic, always consult with your pediatrician or doctor first just to be on the safe side.

friends cheering their glasses of wine over plates of food

How Wine and Chocolate Work With Your Gut to Fight Disease

There has been a lot of recent interest among food researchers investigating the health benefits of resveratrol, an antioxidant found naturally in red wine, dark chocolate, peanuts and some berries.

As we’ve talked about previously in this space, good gut health is one of the variables that allows resveratrol-rich foods like dark chocolate and red wine to offer some pretty nifty advantages, like sharpening your brain.

Consuming resveratrol-rich foods may also be responsible for these perks by making changes to your gut health, according to a pair of reports related to protecting your cardiovascular system from disease.

Resveratrol vs. diabetes

A fascination about the benefits of resveratrol piqued the curiosity of Dr. Jason Dyck, who has spent years studying this antioxidant at the University of Alberta.

Previous studies found resveratrol benefited the health of diabetic patients by lowering their blood sugar levels, but scientists didn’t understand how because resveratrol levels circulating throughout the human bloodstream are so low.

That is, until Dyck and his research team examined how resveratrol affected the gut microbiomes of mice in a study appearing in the medical journal, Diabetes.

In step one, feeding obese mice resveratrol for six weeks was enough to change the makeup of their tiny microbiomes and improve their tolerance to glucose.

The positive results from stage two of their study – giving new healthy mice fecal transplants from that previous group of diabetic mice – were far more dramatic, rapid and impressive than feeding them resveratrol alone.

“We performed fecal transplants in pre-diabetic obese mice and within two weeks their blood sugar levels were almost back to normal,” says Dr. Dyck, according to a press release.

After some deliberation, scientists concluded this gut health change may be the result of one or a group of metabolites that could be triggering healthy changes in blood sugar levels.

“It’s going to take a herculean effort to find what that molecule is,” says Dr. Dyck. “Maybe it’s one, maybe it’s a combination of four or five, or maybe even a hundred. We don’t know, but we intend to find out.”

Resveratrol vs. heart disease

Resveratrol may also play an important role in reducing the production of TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide), an organic gut byproduct that promotes heart disease by triggering the accumulation of plaque in the arteries by gut flora, according to a report appearing in mBio.

A group of Chinese researchers fed mice bred to have an elevated risk of developing atherosclerosis food with or without resveratrol for 30 days. Then, the mice were fed TMA (trimethylamine) or choline to trigger any unhealthy reactions.

Resveratrol had a very similar calming effect, not only on TMAO levels, but the production of TMA in the gut that generates TMAO. Additionally, feeding mice resveratrol also increased levels of various bacterial species, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Too much of a good thing

Before you start stocking up on resveratrol-rich foods, it’s important to remember too much of a good thing can cause health problems too.

For example, increasing your resveratrol intake by eating dark chocolate is OK, so long as you don’t overdo it. Be sure you’re eating minimally processed dark chocolate that contains high percentages of cocoa.

Consuming wine, along with beer and baked goods, can also be a problem for your gut, as these foods contain sulfites that can inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut if you’re not careful.

Feeding your gut by taking a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria may shield your heart health from cardiovascular diseases, like diabetes and chronic inflammation too.

Breastfed Babies With Colic Need Probiotics Too

There’s little doubt, colic is one of the most frustrating and upsetting problems Moms face with their newborns.

Although colic is a short-term problem that typically goes away by month 4 of an infant’s life, this knowledge provides little comfort to new Moms trying and failing to calm down their tearful babies after hours of non-stop crying.

Several health factors – food allergies, acid reflux, milk intolerance and gas – may contribute to colic, but no one really knows what triggers this alarming condition.

Over the years, probiotics have slowly emerged as a safe, cost-effective way to treat colic in previous reports we’ve cited here.

There’s even more evidence of such benefits for breastfed babies in a recent international study featured in Pediatrics that has attracted lots of attention.

A study of data collected from four double-blind trials conducted on three continents and 345 babies concluded that a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus reuteri reduced colic-induced crying after three weeks for children who are exclusively breastfed.

Breastfed babies treated with a probiotic were twice as likely to experience a 50 percent reduction in colic symptoms by day 21, says Dr. Valerie Sung, lead author of the study and Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

That’s a great step toward treating colic, but only for breastfed babies. Unfortunately, formula-fed infants weren’t included in this study, and there’s plenty of health-related reasons why some new Moms should breastfeed their babies.

Medical resources like the Cleveland Clinic and WebMD offer a variety of methods for treating colic ranging from the sensible (calming your baby) to the unproven and possibly unsafe (using herbal remedies).

Here are some safe, simple steps you can take to relieve your baby’s colic:

  • Cutting back on certain foods if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Introducing a pacifier.
  • Diverting your baby’s attention by playing soft music or rocking him/her.
  • Decreasing your baby’s exposure to outside stimulation.

Giving your baby a probiotic with four strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic that feeds the good guys in his/her gut like EndoMune Junior could make a difference in your infant’s colicky symptoms and help you get a good night’s sleep too.

If you’re a new Mom and your baby’s colicky crying persists even after these simple and safe treatments, we urge you to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician for guidance.

When Traveling in Space, Don’t Forget Your Probiotics

The very last thing you’re probably thinking about when watching exciting science-fiction films like Interstellar or Gravity is the gut health of the astronauts flying through space.

But that doesn’t mean Earth-bound scientists aren’t studying or thinking about it… a lot!

Some of these studies could have some important real world implications and benefits, even for the 99.99 percent of us who will never fly higher than 39,000 feet (slightly more than 7 miles) in the air.

The Twins Study

The most current and popular project has been the Twins Study, encompassing 10 NASA-funded studies that compared the molecular structures of identical twin astronauts: Scott Kelly who spent nearly a year in space living in a zero gravity environment and his brother Mark who stayed on the planet as an “Earth-bound control subject.”

One of these research projects, based in Chicago at Northwestern University, Rush University Medical School and the University of Illinois, discovered some interesting fluctuations in the gut microbiomes of both brothers.

Researchers found imbalances in two dominant groups of bacteria (Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes) had shifted in Scott Kelly’s while space bound, and returned to pre-flight levels after arriving back on Earth. Interestingly, Mark Kelly’s gut microbiome fluctuated in those two areas too, however, not as drastically as his twin.

Another very surprising result: An expected change in gut diversity while Scott Kelly was in space never happened.

Female astronauts need probiotics

A pair of Canadian researchers at Western University made a good case for female astronauts taking probiotics in a 2016 report appearing in the health journal Women’s Health.

Scientists believe the unique challenges female astronauts face — osteoporosis, breast cancer, compromised vaginal health and urinary tract infections (UTIs) — could be more problematic during space flights.

For instance, women experience more UTIs during space missions than their male counterparts. Treating women with antibiotics may be problematic due to gravity, not to mention the complications associated with overusing them, which is why researchers believe probiotics may be a better option.

“It’s important to look at the health of women,” said Carmilla Urbaniak, a Ph.D. candidate working at the school’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, according to a press release.

“We know that drugs interact differently in males and females. The impact of probiotics are also different between males and females, and it’s time we focused our research on female astronauts.”

Studying gut health on a microchip

Preventing disease isn’t the only concern on the minds of one lab funded by NASA at the University of Arizona’s Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine.

Researchers there have created amazing “gut-on-a-chip” technology that mimics the internal workings of the human gut. Its primary function for this research is to test how the human gut will respond to cosmic radiation exposure during long periods of space travel.

Among the more practical applications for this microchip technology include the development of probiotics that could treat or even prevent radiation damage, says Dr. Frederick Zenhausen.

Don’t forget traveling on planet Earth

Back a bit closer to planet Earth, you may be travelling long distances in airplanes, especially over the long holiday season, to see family members far and wide.

Doing so creates opportunities for jet lag, a temporary sleep problem that happens when people travel quickly across multiple time zones.

These abrupt time shifts can also create problems for your gut, not only by messing up your body’s natural 24-hour circadian rhythms but playing a role in triggering the accumulation of body fat that leads to obesity.

Getting the right amount of sleep and eating a healthy, balanced diet go a long way toward combating the effects of jet lag, but so does protecting the health of your gut.

Taking a probiotic with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, every day gives your gut the extra protection it needs when travelling on land or in the air.

Breastfeeding feeds your baby’s gut

One of the most important things Moms can do for the health of their newborn babies is to breastfeed them for as long as possible. Breast milk provides an ideal mix of fats, protein and vitamins, nearly all the nutrition your newborn baby needs from the get-go (with the possible exception of vitamin D).

New Moms should breastfeed their babies exclusively for at least six months, and in combination with solid food until age 1 at minimum, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Not only does breastfeeding provides babies the basic nutrition they need, it works to “seed” their developing gut microbiomes with the bacteria, giving them a natural boost to their immune systems that can protect them from disease.

A gut health boost

How much does breastfeeding really help your baby’s gut health? A recent JAMA Pediatrics study led by UCLA researchers tracked the health of 107 Moms and their babies, collecting samples of breast milk, stool samples from infants and skin swabs around the nipple for an entire year to find out.

Scientists learned that breast milk accounts for nearly 30 percent of the beneficial bacteria in a baby’s gut and an extra 10 percent from skin contact with a Mom’s breast.

Plus, the gut microbiomes of babies who were mostly breastfed were a little more diverse compared to infants who were breastfed less.

“We’re appreciating more and more how these bacterial communities, particularly in the intestine, help guard against the bad guys,” says Dr. Grace Aldrovandi, a professor of pediatrics and chief of infectious diseases at UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital, according to a press release.

“We know from animal model systems that if you get good bacteria in your gut early in life, you’re more likely to be healthy.”

What if you can’t breastfeed?

Despite the many benefits breastfeeding provides Moms and their babies, some health conditions require specific prescription drugs — not to forget chemotherapy for cancer treatments — that prevent women from doing it.

Plus, your baby may need an antibiotic to fight common infections, although you’ll want to guard against exposing their growing bodies too often to them.

Moms can still give their babies a gut healthy boost whether they can breastfeed or not with the help of multi-strain probiotics made just for them like EndoMune Junior.

Each dose of EndoMune Junior contains four strains of beneficial bacteria plus a prebiotic that can be easily sprinkled onto foods or added to liquids to protect and enhance their developing gut health.

The importance of breastfeeding your baby

There’s no denying newborn babies get a very healthy start in lives when their Moms delivered them naturally and breastfed them for as long as possible. This one-two punch inoculates their tiny gut microbiomes with the bacteria that helps their bodies thrive and fight off diseases naturally.

As we’ve discussed previously, even the best laid plans of parents and their pediatricians change, making a caesarean (C-section) delivery a tough choice but a necessity for some, nonetheless.

Still, Moms have an important say in their young baby’s gut health by choosing to breastfeed, as shown by a pair of recent studies.

C-sections vs. breastfeeding

A Swedish study tracking the development of the infant microbiome by comparing fecal samples from 98 infants reached some of the same problematic conclusions about C-section births as have previous researchers.

For the record, the microbiomes of young babies born vaginally more closely resembled their Moms than those delivered via C-section, according to the study appearing in Cell Host & Microbe.

Although C-section babies receive less microbial help due to their delivery, they still receive some of Mom’s bacteria through direct contact with their skin and mouth.

However, Swedish researchers also found that infant nutrition — making a decision to breastfeed — also drives the development of young microbiomes as they shift to adapt to their new environments.

The big surprise to researchers: How the end of breastfeeding was the key factor in a baby’s shift to an adult-like microbiome, rather than the introduction of solid foods, says lead study author Fredrik Bäckhed of The University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, important bacteria young growing babies need, dominated the gut composition of babies who were breastfed at 12 months.

Conversely, the gut microbiomes of babies who were no longer being breastfed were dominated by the Clostridia species prevalent in adults.

How many species of bacteria are found in breast milk?

If Moms needed any more reasons to breastfeed their young babies, Spanish researchers gave them an important one in a 2012 study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

DNA sequencing of colostrum (the first liquid secreted by the mammary glands after a woman gives birth) identified more than 700 species of bacteria, far more than expected.

But there are some interesting caveats that may affect the diversity of bacteria a new Mom produces. For one, overweight Moms or women who gained more weight than expected during their pregnancies produced less diverse breast milk.

The kind of delivery also affects the microbial diversity, but not how you might assume, according to the study. As expected, women who delivered their babies naturally had richer breast milk compared to new Moms who had planned a C-section.

However, women who experienced an unplanned C-section delivered breast milk whose composition was bacterially very similar to mothers who gave birth vaginally.

Differences in diversity could be explained by the state of a new Mom’s hormones and physical stress at the time of birth. “The lack of signals of physiological stress, as well as hormonal signals specific to labor, could influence the microbial composition and diversity of breast milk,” according to researchers in a press release.

These results seem to mirror findings in a more recent report about a Mom’s stress levels triggering changes in the ways her baby’s gut health and brain develops.

The good news: Moms can provide their babies a gut healthy boost by giving them a multi-strain probiotic like EndoMune Junior, which contains beneficial strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, plus a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in their guts.

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