There is a great debate on whether to immunize children by vaccination, but what many people don’t know is babies are already immunized by the mother at birth. The fetus spends its first nine months developing in a sterile womb free from bacteria, but as the child passes through the mother’s cervix and birth canal, a healthy dose of beneficial (good) bacteria is passed to the child.
Health Benefits of Breastfeeding
As the mother breastfeeds her newborn, she also passes along more beneficial bacteria and enzymes to her child. The mother’s breast milk contains a substance called colostrum, which is rich in antibodies to help the child’s immune system develop. Colostrum also stimulates the development of the gut and the digestive system and lines the digestive tract with mucus. Colostrum contains proteins and hormones for rapid growth in the developing baby.
The birth process and the mother’s milk are nature’s way of preparing us for life by initially colonizing the digestive system; giving the ability to digest food, fight disease and enter a world full of bad bacteria (pathogens).
Good Bacteria vs. Bad Bacteria
Our bodies (particularly our digestive systems) are home to trillions of beneficial bacteria. In fact, the microflora are so intelligent and communicative that we actually have an enteric nervous system or “second brain,” in our guts that is directly tied to our brain and can affect our mood, energy level, metabolic rate and just about every aspect of our life.
Conversely, our brain can also affect our gut. Have you ever wondered why you lose your appetite? Or, on the other hand, eat profusely when going through stress or emotional turmoil? Everything in our gut affects our life and everything in our life affects our gut!
Drinking chlorinated water or eating chemical-laden foods can wipe out colonies of good bacteria in the gut that the body cannot naturally produce on its own, thus leading to intestinal disorders. When we lack good bacteria and enzymes, our food is often not properly digested and absorbed.
Antibiotics and Probiotics
When we get sick, we run to the doctor. The doctor’s knee-jerk reaction is often to prescribe an antibiotic. Antibiotics can be lifesavers in some cases when the body is over-run with pathogenic bacteria and is too weak to defend itself, but most of the time, the body has a wonderful army of microscopic soldiers that have the amazing ability to defend, heal and repair. This army in our bodies is fueled by probiotic substances such as nutrient-rich, enzyme-laden foods that strengthen and add to our army.
A probiotic is “for life,” whereas an antibiotic is against life. Antibiotics are substances that wipe out bacteria (both good and bad). Antibiotics have side effects related to the gut because they wipe out good bacteria and negatively affect our digestive system. If you must take an antibiotic as a last resort for infection or disease, then once the illness is gone and the antibiotics are finished, seek out some good probiotic supplements at a health food store to replace the lost flora in your body.
In order to improve your health, change your perception on disease, bacteria and life. Instead of worrying and fearing bad bacteria, concentrate on strengthening your good bacteria so that they are strong enough to defend you when diseases attack.