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Probiotics And Pregnancy - What You Should Know (Part 1)

Jan 15, 2008
My brother and sister-in-law have just had some marvellous news. They are going to be grand parents, not once but twice. That means I'm going to be a great aunt - hopefully, literally!

The pregnancies whilst welcome were unexpected. It has always been accepted by his parents my nephew would never be a dad - at least not intentionally. My niece, on the other hand, has always wanted to be a mother, especially since her marriage. However, she had Cancer as a child and was warned motherhood might not be easy so her recent news is particularly pleasing.

I'm sure my relations will make wonderful parents. They are sensible with drink, don't smoke or take drugs and are fit and active. They also eat healthily, but I'm willing to bet they don't take probiotics every day. Not many people do, so for the sake of my unborn great nieces or nephews I'm going to explain to them why they should. I wish I'd had an auntie who'd told me about them.

Probiotics, for those who don't already know, are good friendly bacteria, and incase you're now wondering why anyone would possibly want to eat bacteria, it's because they are good for your health. Correction, they are essential for your health.

Whether you like it or not, bacteria live inside every one of you, and stretch from your mouth to your anus. Infact, you have more bacteria in your body than cells. Depending on which research you read, almost 85% of your immunity is found in your gut, and we all know a good immune system is essential if you want to be healthy.

Our genes are responsible for our appearance and characteristics, and our immune system is partly determined by our parents. If the mother breast-feeds she can pass on some of her own immunity to her offspring, something not possible with formulated milk. It is vital, therefore, all pregnant mothers realise the importance of having strong gut flora to pass on but to give the baby a boost you can put some probiotics on your nipples. If you choose to bottle-feed your child you should introduce probiotics to the baby within the formulated milk.

Probiotics are food. When a woman is pregnant her own immune system is naturally suppressed so it's important she take probiotics to feed both herself and the baby growing inside her.

When a child is first born, his or her gut is sterile and needs to be populated by bacteria. There are two types, probiotic that are the beneficial ones, and the pathogenic ones, which you really don't want too many of. The ratio of good to bad should be 85:15. Most people get it the other way round. This compromises their immune system preventing appropriate responses to the many environmental insults to which our modern society is exposed.

Unfortunately, with each generation our immune system gets weaker, and you might have noticed a marked increase in childhood disorders such as allergies, asthma, eczema, diabetes and hay fever. My specific interest is in the area of autistic spectrum disorders and ADHD. When my son was diagnosed with autism in 1993 the rate was approximately 1:2500, now in 2008 it's 1:100.

If you have sufficient of the right kind of bacteria, your body will be protected from unwanted invaders. Toxins can be grabbed, neutralised, and removed. Importantly, you will be able to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from your food. It doesn't matter how good the food you eat is if you can't absorb it. Having your gut populated by bad bacteria prevents food being broken down properly. When undigested particles get into your blood they cause all sorts of symptoms, and when undigested food remains in your body it produces all sorts of toxins as it rots and putrefies.

Until the invention of the refrigerator, the human race was very good at naturally getting daily probiotic bacteria. Food was eaten fresh and grains, vegetables or fruit, contained healthy probiotics, as the fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides and herbicides, which were introduced after the Second World War, hadn't killed them off.

Any food left over was preserved, and the way this was done was by means of fermentation. Some foods are still prepared in this way, i.e. yoghurt and sauerkraut, but how many people do you know who eat these every day? Wine and some beer is also fermented which is why drinking in moderation can be considered beneficial.

Also, until relatively recently we weren't obsessed with sterilising everything and using anti-bacterial products. Soap, water and a bit of elbow grease worked fine. Anti-bacterial sprays, wipes, etc kill bacteria. Unfortunately, they kill ALL bacteria, both good and bad so how is anyone ever expected to build a good immune system? Ever heard the expression "A bit of dirt never hurt anyone"? Even a healthy person needs some pathogenic bacteria, just not too much. The way to keep it under control is to listen to Nature and fight like with like.

Fortunately people are slowly beginning to re-introduce probiotic bacteria into their diets. Good bacteria deal with all the bad stuff and keep the pathogenic strains under control. So how do you get it?

You will find all manner of formulations on the supermarket shelves. You can get powders, capsules, drinks, and yoghurts with manufacturers making all sorts of claims as to their possible benefits and potency. It's confusing.

However, replenishing your probiotic bacteria on a daily basis is essential because many different things including antibiotics, stress, pollution, chemicals, dental work, prescribed medication, contraceptive pills, and old age (to name just a few) destroy them.

If the probiotic bacteria are wiped out it provides a window of opportunity for pathogenic bacteria to flourish, and these are a major source of toxins in the body. Infact, it has been estimated 80% of toxins in the blood comes from the gut and since your blood nourishes your whole body it's not surprising many of us don't feel as well as we should.
About the Author
Jean Shaw writes true story books on autism and mercury poisoning and is the author of I'm Not Naughty - I'm Autistic, Autism, Amalgam and Me, and Mercury Poisoning - It's Not In Our Heads Any More

For more information on probiotics see http://www.ProbioticsforHealth.com
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