Recent research has shed light on the crucial “conversation” between gut microbes and infant genes that appear to help the breast-fed infant make a safe transition from life in the womb to life outside. The study was published April 29, 2012, in the open-access journal Genome Biology reports.
This confirms earlier findings that show breast-feeding gooses the developing immune system. It elucidated the chemical chatter between genes in the developing infants and their gut bacteria by comparing the bacterial communities and genes found in the guts of breast-fed vs. formula-fed (cow’s milk) 3-month-olds.
The researchers studied the gut microbiome information and gene expression levels in the infant gut; they identified genes involved in immunity and defense with altered expression levels in relation to the gut bacteria in breast-fed infants.
Breast-fed babies, it emerged, had more diverse gut biota, but their immune systems were ready primed for it. This was almost paradoxical. The babies’ fecal matter had more of the obnoxious, virulent organisms (including resistance to antibiotics and toxic compounds), yet the infant immune system was well primed and ready to shoot!
What seems to happen is that killer defence genes are activated in the young immune system by the challenge of meeting hostile pathogens.
So it is, in a way, confirmation of the so-called “hygiene hypothesis: if you stay too clean and try to hide from germs, they will get you, because your immune system is compromised from the get-go. Our human microbiome actually EDUCATES the immune system.
The key part, though, is the finding suggesting that human milk promotes the beneficial crosstalk between the immune system and microbe population in the gut, and so maintains intestinal stability.
It’s yet another reason not to give kids that garbage from cows, raw or sterilized. Dump that raw milk pansy story, once and for all. It has no relevance or benefit to human development and weakens the immune defences.
Breast is best!
Of course this strongly re-inforces everything I wrote in my new book “Fire In The Belly” about why inflammatory human microbes in the gut MUST be suppressed and replaced with healthy organisms of the kind we need. A healthy immune system and our very lives depend on it!
If you don’t have Fire In The Belly, go here and see why you need it:
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Hatch Project Division of Nutritional Sciences Vision, and the United States Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA–NIFA) Grant Designing Foods for Health. One author is supported by the College of Arts and Science at Miami University. The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
[Genome Biol. Published online April 30, 2012. Abstract]