Manufacturers proudly proclaim that box of milk you’re buying on the supermarket shelf is germ free, but germ free is definitely not the way Mother Nature serves it up.
When Spanish researches began counting bacterial strains in human breast milk, they were stunned to discover it is teeming with lots and lots of different types of bacteria aka GERMS.
The bacteria hunt in breast milk
18 women agreed to share their baby’s food supplies with the scientists.
Milk samples were collected from these women, just before their babies arrived, at the first feeding and then after one month and six months of breastfeeding.
The Spanish scientists used fancy DNA sequencing techniques to determine which bacteria were present in the milk.
Baby food or bacteria ?
The first milk a mom produces after giving birth, is known as colostrum.
Scientists already knew colostrum is important. The goodies inside colostrum help to “finish off“ the process of gut development, so that the gut is ready to receive and process its very first food.
The Spanish team discovered colostrum is FULL of bacteria. In some of the samples, there were more than 700 different species of bacteria.
Not 700 bacteria – 700 different kinds of bacteria.
The team observed that the types of bacteria present in the milk changed over time.
The baby deliver team
The team found that the make up of the “BABY DELIVERY TEAM”, impacted the composition of the milk.
Easy arrivals i.e. baby’s born via c-section ended up being short changed. The milk from moms who underwent a planned caesarean, was rather bland bacterially speaking.
The evidence suggested that the sweat and tears, associated with all that pushing and shoving during the birthing process, somehow slip into the milk machine. The extra ingredients fuel a bacterial explosion and create milk jam packed full of bacteria.
Interestingly – Moms who ended up having an emergency c-section, ended up producing milk full of bacteria too. So it is the initial sweat and tears of giving birth, which creates the chemistry that promotes the growth of all those bacteria.
The bacteria gathered, during the birthing process and from baby’s first foods, form the basis of an individual’s microbiota.
Better body chemistry is not always easy…..
The human milk microbiome changes over lactation and is shaped by maternal weight and mode of delivery. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012) 96 (3): 544 R. Cabrera-Rubio, M. C. Collado, K. Laitinen, S. Salminen, E. Isolauri, A. Mira.
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