There is a study being carried out at the University of Washington (where I got my MA~ go Dawgs!) which is looking at probiotics in a slightly different way than the usual probiotic news. They are studying how birth by C-section vs. through birth canal effects the baby’s microbiome, and also the differences that occur in only breastfeeding, only bottle feeding, or mixing the two. As you might guess, the baby gets probiotics by actually traveling through the birth canal, kind of like the mama’s last parting gift as her little one moves into our germy world. I can’t help but think of it as a parting party bag…only the beginning of many party bags for the next 6 years at least. The baby does get some probiotics when delivered by C-section, but not anywhere near the same quality or quantity that the birth canal gives. And also as you might guess, breastfeeding offers the baby a host of probiotics that bottle feeding cannot replicate. What you might not guess, and what seems to have surprised the researchers, is that when mixing breast and bottle feeding the baby does not get the same amount of probiotics that pure breastfeeding gives. This is intended to inform only~ anyone who has a baby to feed needs to decide for themselves how best to do it. If you happen to have been a C-section, bottle-fed baby (like many of my generation) then it is yet another reason to look at taking probiotics. Or if you are a parent, then the same information can be used when making decisions for your kids. It makes me think about the rise of food intolerances and allergies of late and the part that infancy and the actual birth might play in those issues. Obviously the causes are multifaceted, but I do not doubt that our modern birthing and feeding changes play a role. A person’s microbiome is a magor player in their immune system their entire life, and it is never too late, nor too early, to start building a good defense system.
This is an interesting article about one neurologist’s belief that gluten and carbs are responsible for many brain ailments, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, ADD and such. He talks about inflammation being caused by carbs which in turn is the root of many brain diseases, with gluten being especially damaging because of blood brain barrier issues. The part I found most personally verifiable is where he says many gluten intolerant symptoms are not felt in the digestive track at all, but in other parts of the body, and I can readily attest to that. Other foods majorly affect my stomach and such, but when I eat gluten I feel it almost immediately in my head. I had a low-grade headache from childhood until my 20s when I began to figure out the wheat connection. It is like clockwork, eat something with gluten and I start to feel ‘off’, like maybe I’m coming down with something and need to sleep it off, but then I slowly realize it isn’t just fatigue, but the a headache that is different from a normal headache, which incidentally I rarely get now that I don’t eat gluten. My whole body feels fatigued, I feel slightly depressed, and my head hurts for 3 days, and then it all fades into feeling good again. Very predictable. As for Doctor Perlmutter’s assertion that gluten and carbs are innately bad for us, I tend to disagree. It seems he’s stumbled upon some truths, (carbs cause inflammation, inflammation is bad for our brains, gluten causes the worst problems, etc) but he made some suppositions that go to far. There has long been a link between brain and gut health~ this has been long-established and shows up in products such as MindLinx, a probiotic that emphasizes the link between a healthy intestinal tract and the mind, hence the name, and before gluten intolerance was recognized it was thought that all carbs were equally responsible for digestive troubles. People have singled out gluten, sugar, PH balance (remember that craze?), blood type, fat, and many other things as the be-all-end-all deciding factor in health, always just until the next thing comes up. Granted, they usually have at least a nugget of truth in them, but they are never the golden nugget that they are made out to be. If you look at the world’s healthiest populations with the least amounts of disease you find communities that focus on whole foods~ fruits and vegetables, grains and vegetable fats, with small amounts of meat/fish/poultry. A fantastic book (with recipes!) about these healthiest cultures and their diets is The Jungle Effect by Dr.Daphne Miller. Real food, despite valiant efforts, could not be improved, and in fact has only deteriorated in nutrition and taste since the industrial revolution. We live in an age of amazing medical technology and knowledge, and goodness knows I’m happy to not be living in the middle ages with leaches being the latest and greatest, but sometimes the old ways, the jungle ways, can teach us more than any doctor.