Baby’s Gut Instinct: Why Having a Healthy Gut is Critical to Infant Health

Today we’re talking about one of my favorite topics: poop. And we’re finding out that the most important time to pay attention to our poop and what it can tell us about the microbiome is in the earliest months of life. I recently did a really interesting webinar on this topic. It's such a critical aspect of creating lifelong health that I wanted to share it on the podcast, to make sure anyone who missed it had a chance to listen. With the huge rise in inflammatory diseases from obesity and diabetes to autoimmunity and so many more, it’s imperative we look at the gut to optimize whole body health—this is a fundamental piece of Functional Medicine that I’ve been using with my patients for decades.

To dig into the specifics of how we can start kids off with the best health possible, I sat down with Dr. Tracy Shafizadeh. She is leading the work in understanding the infant microbiome, as a nutritional scientist who helps new and expectant moms learn about creating healthy gut bugs in their babies. While focusing on babies’ health is important for future generations, this is really a topic that impacts all of us today.

Modern society has created the perfect storm for a depletion of our good gut bacteria. Overuse of antibiotics, poor diet, glyphosate, C-sections, and so many other factors are leading to an epidemic of missing microbes—especially one of the most essential ones called Bifidobacterium infantis or B. infantis, for short. There is even a new condition related to this called Newborn Gut Deficiency (NGD). This is when there is an overwhelming shortage of good bacteria in a baby’s gut, and bad bacteria then have room to take over and cause inflammation. NGD is linked to some of the most frustrating issues parents deal with, like colic, diaper rash, fussiness, poor sleep, and eczema. And it’s estimated that 90% of babies being born in the US fall into this category, with numbers rising in other industrialized countries as well.

Dr. Tracy and I dive into what the research on B. infantis reveals about optimizing health in our tiniest humans. Babies are born with a clean slate, so to speak, when it comes to gut bacteria. We want to help B. infantis set up shop, because it might struggle to become well established for the reasons I mentioned above. Dr. Tracy has been leading the way with research on how to promote optimal levels of B. infantis and has developed the Evivo probiotic to make it easier for parents to foster this important bacteria in their babies early in life. We also talk about why the strain of B. infantis matters, the topic of vaginal seeding, and so much more. This is a really interesting and important topic that will help our children and grandchildren thrive. I’m even excited to work on improving my own levels of B. infantis to see what kinds of benefits I notice myself!

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