Go ahead and read it if you’re interested. It’s not very long. The gist of the article is that the types and diversity of microbes that populate our guts have a direct effect on how we store fat and gain weight. The oh-we’re-so-surprised! (sarcasm alert) finding is how we end up with either a healthy mix of microbes, or one that piles on the pounds.
How we are born (vaginally vs. c-section), whether or not we were breastfed, and what we eat (refined, processed food vs. Real Food), are all directly related to the types and variety of microbes we have.
And by golly, if you were born vaginally, breastfed for six months or longer, and eat a varied diet of mostly plants, whole grains, and meat that you cook yourself, you will have a large and healthy mix of the best microbes in your gut, and you are most likely not obese.
And you know something? It’s not a mystery why. You may think, “eww” at some of this, but babies who are born vaginally are exposed to their mother’s bacteria in the birth canal. They actually swallow some of this (hey, birth is a decidedly intimate act – if this makes you cringe, just think about what you swallow while you’re fooling around making a baby), and the baby’s here-to-fore sterile guts are introduced to their first bacteria. Breastfeeding furthers this colonization both through bacteria picked up on mom’s skin and through the milk itself. No, formula cannot duplicate this. Breast milk is created by a woman’s body specifically for the baby that grew in that body. As breastfeeding proceeds over the first months and years of the child’s life, the milk constantly adjusts to meet whatever the baby’s current need is. This includes antibodies against disease and good bacteria to aid in digestion.
Baby’s solid food also introduces gut bacteria, as well as adjusting the gut environment to harbor a certain mix of microbes. If baby eats rice cereal and food from Gerber or whoever, his gut environment changes to a fragile system that can harbor only a few kinds of microbes, which are not very efficient at breaking down food.
If baby’s solid food is Only Food (bought as ingredients and prepared at home), then we have another by-golly adventure: he ends up with a varied and active mix of helpful microbes that easily breaks down plant starches and fibers into somethng his body can use, rather than just store.
My sarcasm meter goes off the scale at this kind of thing, but I AM always happy when science finally catches up with common sense. There are a lot pieces to human health and it is extremely difficult to study all of it. But just because we don’t know for a fact how processed food damages our bodies, we will all be better off to shun the food industry’s offerings and feed our bodies the real thing. Just because we can’t see immediate and obvious injuries from interfering with the natural process of birth, doesn’t mean we can interfere without consequences. Just because most people are bottle-fed and they all seem to be okay, doesn’t mean they ARE okay, and that it doesn’t make a difference if we breastfeed or not.
We are an extremely adaptable species and we can do a lot of damage to our bodies without immediately dying or going extinct. But I fully expect that science will one day KNOW how all these things have made us sick, weak, dumb, violent. depressed, psychotic, nervous, or any number of things. At that point, all we can do is mourn what we could have been. There’s no do-over here.
There’s a price to pay for everything. Seems that the price for doing right by our bodies would be a lot easier to pay in the long run.