Did you know a healthy digestive tract and a strong immune system are something you can help develop from birth? While it’s possible to improve damage done on both as you grow older, a healthy tract and immune system start from the second you’re born.
Research has shown that children delivered via a natural birth are given their first real exposure to good bacteria in the vaginal tract, while children delivered through a C-section are exposed to microorganisms that are found on both the skin and outside environment. Exposure to these contaminants can potentially lead to a weaker immune system and a higher potential of autoimmune diseases. But don’t worry if you’ve given birth via a C-section.
Research has found a link between the healthy growth and development of both the immune system and digestive tract, and breastfeeding. Breast milk is shown to contain cytokines, lactoferrin, glycoconjugates, oligosaccharides, white blood cells, and immunoglobulins. All of which have a role in reducing allergies, reducing the chance of autoimmune disease and supporting the production of good bacteria. Infants delivered through C-section can still develop a healthy immune system and GI tract by being breastfed for 12+ months.
The introduction of what foods when also plays a major role in the development of intestinal flora:
- 6 months: Food that starts to be introduced should be high in iron, antioxidants, and polyphenols.
- 9 months: Food should be high in zinc and fibre.
- 12 months: Foods should be high in protein, fats, and fibre.
- 21 months: Around this time more complex foods are introduced and able to be tolerated. These should be high in protein and nutrients in order to support a strong and healthy growth of a child.
Remember, a healthy gut and immune system start from day one. If you’re looking to undo some of the damage on your digestive tract, or to optimize your health and that of your family, be sure to book a consultation with one of our naturopathic specialists today.