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Dr. Marie-Claire Arrieta says you bet we are. She is a scientist who has researched babies who are missing key intestinal microbiota and are more likely to develop asthma.
That’s why she and Dr. Brett Finlay put together “Let Them Eat Dirt:” Saving your child from an over sanitized world. So, do we need an attitude adjustment in thinking that bacteria is all bad to realizing that bacteria can be something good…and essential to your child’s well-being.
According to Dr. Arrieta, she really was adamant that we have to rethink our feeling about bacteria because it can affect our kids’ lifelong health. The past hundred years have brought advances in and more widespread use of antibiotics, antivirals, vaccinations, chlorinated water, pasteurization, sterilization, hand sanitizers, and even good old fashioned hand washing.
However, diseases and disorders like asthma, allergies, obesity, and autism are on the rise. According to the docs, there is a connection here.
The first five years are crucial because it takes about three to five years from the time we are born to become a fully established community for a solid foundation for future health. At the moment of birth, a child receives a big load of microbes from the mother.
Babies born vaginally encounter essential microbes. If medical interventions are necessary, such as C-sections and antibiotics, there are ways to re-populate babies’ microbiota.
Breast milk is the jackpot for microbes. We all know breast milk is rich with nutrients, but it also contains an ever-expanding list of antibodies, proteins, and enzymes that promote immunity and intestinal development. If breastfeeding is not an option, supplementary probiotics are crucial.
Antibiotics are overused. A recent study of 65,000 children in the U.S. showed that more than 70% of them had received antibiotics by the age of two, and those children and that those kids averaged eleven course by age five.
Here is what’s disturbing. Children who received four or more courses of antibiotics in their first two years were at 10% higher risk of becoming obese/
Kids need dirt. You don’t have to move to a farm (although Amish children raised among pastures have excellent gut microbiota). But making changes like less frequent handwashing after outdoor play, letting your dog snuggle with your baby (dogs are truly microbes best friend” and requiring daily time outside will all help build a stronger microbiome in your child.
Avoid sugar. The foods that babies eat in the first year of life determine the type of microbes that grow in them. Certain foods, like those with sugars and high starch, are absorbed in the upper intestine and don’t even make it to the lower intestine where microbes are waiting to be fed. Try legumes and fiber for microbes to flourish.
Probiotics are not approved by the FDA, so some products on the market may not have the exact microbes your child needs. Besides, probiotics are not enough. What’s better is not putting microbes at risk in the first place.
You can go to www.letthemeatdirt.com or check out “Let Them Eat Dirt.”
It will really go into detail. Cleaniliness? Yes! But don’t overdo!
From the files of Mary Jane Popp at KAHI Radio in Sacramento, California
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