How the Gut Microbiome and the Fruit of An Ancient Tree Can Help Keep Your Family Healthy and Happy.
The Microbiome, from pregnancy to preschool
By Dr. Luc Maes, cofounder of KAIBAE
Your body is home to a complex ecosystem of more than a trillion microorganisms. But before you get squeamish, you should know that they are actually incredibly important for a healthy immune system.These organisms make up what is called the microbiome: a living layer found on every surface that contacts the outside world, including the skin, nose, mouth, lungs digestive and reproductive system. (1) All these regions of our body communicate through a complex network of immune messaging. Early in life, the gut microbiome is influenced by the mother’s health, diet, breastfeeding and delivery method. As we age, the gut microbiome continues to evolve based on lifestyle, diet, and environmental factors.
Modern living comes with a whole set of stressors, environmental exposures that compromise the diversity of this living layer of microbiota inside and out. (2) This disruption starts at an early age, increasing vulnerabilities and susceptibilities to conditions such as asthma, allergies, eczema, and autoimmune diseases. The natural environment, on the other hand, replenishes the skin and the gut microbiome in ways that urban living does not. Therefore, we must take extra measures to fill this void and be more diligent about our health and lifestyle choices for ourselves and our families.
Before & During Pregnancy
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, or are pregnant, it is a good idea to take inventory of the diet, stress levels, environment, and lifestyle of both parents.
A Mediterranean diet forms a great foundation for healthy eating for all, and for expecting women can even prevent gestational diabetes. Consuming prebiotic fiber in a plant-centric diet enriches a diverse gut microbiome. Bonus: probiotic balance encourages the absorption of prenatal vitamins, including folic acid and B12 supplements.
Physical activity during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of excessive gestational weight gain, gestational diabetes, and conditions including preeclampsia, preterm birth, and varicose veins. Psychological benefits to physical activity during pregnancy include reduced fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as improved overall well-being. Physical exercise also encourages diversity in the gut microbiome. Outdoor activity is even better as it increases exposure to vitamin D from the sun, which supports gut health and pregnancy outcomes.
The foundation for each of our microbiomes starts during labor. At this stage of life, newborns are introduced to their first line of microbiota, called bifidobacteria. The use of perinatal antibiotics and cesarean delivery have been shown to disrupt this natural process, which is why many women feel strongly about a vaginal birth (of course, there’s much we can’t control in the delivery room, but this is where it all begins!)
Skin to skin
The skin contact during breastfeeding and through skin to skin contact with loved ones further develops the infant microbiome in the gut and on the skin. As our little ones become toddlers, their circles get larger as do the number of novel exposures from their environment from daycare to kindergarten. With their immune systems in training, snotty noses to ear infections are not an uncommon occurrence. All too often antibiotics are overprescribed, but often these conditions can resolve without a prescription.
There is a window of time in childhood where contact with a plethora of bacteria is important because it sets up the immune system for life. Playing outside in the dirt and breathing fresh air exposes us to all kinds of tiny little bugs, or bacteria which are essential to developing a healthy immune system. Research has shown that children who grew up in farm environments (lots of outdoor time, exposure to animal bacteria, etc.) were far less likely to develop asthma and autoimmune diseases than children in urban areas. In fact, children in extremely clean households were more likely to have autoimmune problems, despite their parents’ efforts to keep them safe from “germs”. It turns out that exposure to various bacteria trains our immune systems to be more effective.
Prebiotics for Kids
The good bacteria in your gut keep everything running smoothly. Probiotics feed off of prebiotic fiber, which can be found in fruits and vegetables. Making sure you and your children are consuming foods with high prebiotic content is key. Top trending ingredient, Baobab, is the prebiotic powerhouse that promotes optimal health for kids and their parents. High in vitamin B and C, amino acids and minerals, the Baobab fruit produces a powder that is naturally sweet, tangy and 28% prebiotic fiber! Just a tablespoon a day of KAIBAE’s Organic Baobab Fruit Powder will help your kids gut bacteria flourish. After a long day of rolling in the dirt, give your kids a treat that is secretly great for them: a healthy smoothie a Bao-pop!
About Baobab: The African Tree Of Life
The ancient Baobab tree is an icon of the African continent. The trees can live for up to 3,000 years, reach up to 30 meters and up to an enormous 50 meters in circumference. Baobab trees can provide shelter, food and water for animals and humans, which is why many communities have made their homes near Baobab trees.
Known as the ‘Tree of Life’ Baobab trees have a sacred association with childbirth in Africa. These majestic, prehistoric trees are considered by many tribes to be the resting place of their ancestors.
They are revered spaces and serve as ceremony altars and sources of advice in the spiritual center of the community. Baobab trees have large, swollen trunks which become hollowed out inside over time.
In some tribes, women choose to give birth inside baobab trees. They go into the tree alone, take everything they need with them and do not come out until after the birth of their baby. Giving birth inside the baobab tree provides these women with shelter, privacy, warmth as well as protection from wild animals and the spirits of the protest sisters.
Baobab fruit is the only fruit in the world that dries naturally on the branch. Baking in the sun for six months, the prickly green, furry coating of the fruit transforms into a smooth brown, coconut like shell. The fruit has a delicious sweet and citrusy flavor and is full of health benefits. It strengthens the immune system, bounces blood sugar, helps to absorb iron, improves digestion, acts as a prebiotic and is full of antioxidants.
Baobab contains six times the vitamin C of an orange by weight and as the human body cannot store its own vitamin C, it is important to get a good supply daily. Baobab helps the body to absorb iron, which is essential for reducing tiredness and fatigue.
Baobab fruit powder is almost 50% fiber (half soluble and half insoluble). The prebiotic soluble fibers in baobab support the growth and activity of beneficial probiotic bacteria helping maintain gut health.
Our Superkin kiddos LOVE these good for the gut Baobab treats. We’re thrilled to partner with our friends at KAIBAE for 15% off and free shipping this earth day, use code MotherEarth15, good thru 4/25/21.
About Dr Luc
With more than 30 years in Naturopathic Medical practice, I continue to be amazed by the power of plants to improve well being and make people feel better. I’ve travelled the globe to learn about traditional uses of plants. About ten years ago, a giant tree in Africa drew my interest for its incomparably beneficial nutrients. The Baobab tree, known as the ‘African tree life’, produces a fruit powder rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and prebiotic fiber. I ended up starting a supply chain in northern Ghana that now supports economic development in Africa. Baobab fruit is a staple of Hunter gatherer Hadza in Tanzania and has the most diverse microbiomes and do not have any of the conditions that we do. Check out Baobab by KAIBAE at gokaibae.com for your family’s health and health for future generations.