“Breast is best” is the slogan new mothers are consistently taught after birth nowadays. There is significant pressure on new mothers in the first few days after giving birth to attempt to feed their babies from the breast. Doctors and nurses underline that it is the best way to ensure children develop healthy immune systems and get proper nutrition. Science Daily outlines how researchers have now found more benefits to breastfeeding; including lower incidences of diabetes, obesity, allergies and inflammatory bowel disease later in life. A study released by the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen found that breastfeeding promotes healthy gut bacteria development and this can all be attributed to the growth of healthy lactic acid bacteria which are helpful to the immune system.
Tine Rask Licht from the National Food Institute said that they are becoming more and more aware of the relationship between healthy gut bacteria and a healthy immune system. Babies are born without healthy gut bacteria but develop these in the first three years of life.
The study reveals that babies gut bacteria evolve from nine to 18 months after breastfeeding stops and new foods are introduced. The bacteria become more complex and stable by the age of three. According to Licht, the study helps support the assumption that gut microbiota is not stable from the time a child turns one. Instead, changes occur up to the age of three. This means the intestinal bacteria are more susceptible to outside factors at this age. He goes on to say that this will be helpful advice for new breastfeeding mothers and to those wanting to develop formula with ingredients to promote healthy gut bacteria development.
Currently, there are a few brands of formula that address healthy tummy issues in babies and toddlers. Nestle Good Start has a probiotic option as well as a GO formulation with galacto-oligosaccharides. Both promote digestion. Similac and Enfamil also contain galacto-oligosaccharides that promote the growth of good bacteria in the intestinal tract. They promote softer stools similar to breastfed babies. Galacto-oligosaccdarides encourage the growth of healthy bacteria such as lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, which are two bacteria the Denmark study hoped to stimulate.
It appears that formula companies are already beginning to take an interest in the gut health of their clients. Further study will likely allow them to replicate mother’s milk in the future. This would be of significant relief to those mothers that were unable to breastfeed for various reasons. Replication of breast milk is highly sought after, but the act of breastfeeding a baby has so many more benefits than just the physical ones. There is a deep bond that develops.
Currently, many women are turning to formula as a means of convenience rather than necessity. This could be a dangerous trend and medical professionals are working towards decreasing this phenomenon. There is much pressure on women after they have given birth for breastfeeding to commence and the latest finding, that it promotes healthy gut bacteria development, confirms that it is important to try to breastfeed if one is capable.
Opinion By Nicole Drawc