(Stillness in the Storm Editor) In our so-called world of modern scientific advances, the recognition of the organically perfected healthcare nature provided is downplayed or completely overlooked. But the organic environment, over billions of years of trial and error, developed a system for maintaining perfect health—perhaps it has something to teach us.
Nature provided breast milk as a way to nurture and grow the immune systems of babies and children. Instead of having to scavenge for food that feeds a baby’s body what it needs to become healthy, all a mother needs to do is eat healthy herself and everything her body has learned will be taught to the child.
When an infant is born, it effectively has no functioning immune system. It acquires immune knowledge via the mother’s breast milk, which not only transmits antibody information to the newborn but produces a superbly tailored brew of nutrients to feed the microbial ecosystem of the body. Breast milk is the ultimate superfood for children—nothing else compares to this magical living brew of probiotics, vitamins, nutrients, and proteins.
The Inner Ecosystem
The immune system strives to maintain a perfect harmony, coordinating trillions upon trillions of cells that make up the human body. A newborn relies on mother’s milk and its blend of probiotic compounds and nutrients to feed beneficial bacteria, laying the foundation for health throughout life. But when we are cut off from this vital knowledge and nutrient source, a host of health problems develop. Most of the modern-day healthcare epidemics can be traced to a poorly functioning body due to an out-of-balance immune system.
Modern day diets destroy the delicate balance of bacteria within the body. Probiotic supplementation can help but only if one eats properly. When high sugar and carbohydrate heavy foods are consumed, toxic bacteria flourishes, destroying the delicate balance within the body, manifesting as disease, rapid aging, and poor neurological function—to name a few.
Newborns, in particular, are incredibly sensitive to food stuffs, which is why nature provided a perfect mechanism to feed the developing body, while also imparting immune knowledge to the child. A baby breastfed for at least two years learns or acquires of all their mother’s immune knowledge, literally becoming resistant to all of the viruses and bacteria she encountered in life. This is one reason why breastfeeding children as long as possible is advisable. But of course, the quality of the mother’s diet and health directly affects what the child receives in the milk.
So what happens if you were never breastfed or you didn’t breastfeed your children?
This is a reality many in the modern world have to face, as generations of chronically poor diet, environmental destruction, and exposure to toxins ensures that disease spreads like wildfire. Since immune knowledge is transmitted generationally, each successive child born today has a severely depleted immune system due to modern-day eating habits, and diseases that used to only affect adults are afflicting children en masse.
Restoring Balance: Physically and Psychologically
Thankfully, no matter what your age, health status, or initial dietary conditions, the immune system—which is almost entirely dependent on the microbial makeup of the body—can usually be restored. In order to do this, one needs to eliminate toxic foods, high in sugars and low complexity carbohydrates, which cuts off the supply of food to the toxic bacteria in the body, like candida. Simultaneously, consuming raw milk repopulates the body’s vital storehouse of beneficial bacteria. While cows milk and goats milk isn’t as good as human breast milk, our organisms are similar enough to allow for immune knowledge to be transmitted. But animals should ideally be free range and properly fed. Consuming raw organic greens provide the materials needed by beneficial bacteria to flourish—so long as all processed foods are avoided.
The body, like nature, is a delicate ecosystem. Modern life has trained us to ignore this and focus only on what feels good in the moment. The vast majority of modern-day diets provides very little nutrition, flood the body with toxins that destroy beneficial bacteria, and feed deadly bacteria in abundance with sugary foodstuff. Add antibiotics, antibacterials, and vaccines to the mix, and nearly everyone suffers from a compromised immune system made possible by a poorly maintained microbial environment.
Consider this analogy. If a garden requires clean water, organic soil, and microbes to flourish, what would happen if you poured motor oil and gasoline on it every day for a year? Odds are before the first month, everything in the garden would die, and after year, the only thing that could survive would be organisms that flourish in toxic environments. Clearly, any food grown in such conditions wouldn’t be fit for human consumption. Is the body any different?
Culture teaches us to eat what we want and worry about the consequences later. Most of us eat food because it feels good in the moment, and suffer health problems the rest of the time. We eat greasy pizza, high carbohydrate, and heavy meat diets that taste great, but cause chronic heartburn, constipation, and deplete the immune system. Clearly, this is not a wise or practical course of action.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”― Hippocrates
“Nature knows best” is a phrase falling into disuse—arguably because humanity is more divorced from nature now than any other time in history. And with this separation, disease, environmental destruction, and suffering have skyrocketed. Perhaps we should learn from antiquity, and look to cultures that were more in harmony with nature—the mother from which all life springs.
Maintaining health begins on day one. Breast milk is nature’s all-in-one organic immunization drink—the first, most popular, and hugely successful probiotic beverage that costs nothing but time and care to make. Children need it to flourish, and when they don’t get it, disease is sure to follow.
As adults, we can undo years of poor custodianship, if we’re willing to stop treating food as a temporary pleasure and start thinking about it as a way to maintain proper health. In this sense, staying healthy is a holistic enterprise, wherein the mind-body connection is well acknowledged and our relationship to food and health forms the basis of our food choices.
To claim that breastmilk is the gold standard in infant nutrition is an understatement. For a newborn, nothing comes close in nutrient density which is so perfectly customized for an infant as it grows. Breast-fed infants gain incredible protection from antibodies, proteins and immune cells in breastmilk. It defends against a myriad of pathogens in ways that are impossible through vaccination and other pharmaceuticals.
The molecules in breastmilk cells help to prevent microorganisms from penetrating the body’s tissues. Some of the molecules bind to microbes in the hollow space (lumen) of the gastrointestinal tract. In this way, they block microbes from attaching to and crossing through the mucosa-the layer of cells, also known as the epithelium, that lines the digestive tract and other body cavities. Other molecules lessen the supply of particular minerals and vitamins that harmful bacteria need to survive in the digestive tract. Certain immune cells in human milk are phagocytes that attack microbes directly. Another set produces chemicals that invigorate the infant’s own immune response.
Naturally-occurring sugars found in breastmilk provide protection against life threatening bacterium by acting as a food source for ‘friendly bacteria’ in a baby’s intestine.
Researchers have identified a specific sugar — lacto-n-difucohexaose I — in breastmilk that proved better at killing the bacterium Streptococcus agalacticae than breastmilk without this sugar.
Antibodies, which are also called immunoglobulins, take five basic forms, denoted as IgG, IgA, IgM, IgD and IgE. All have been found in human milk, but by far the most abundant type is IgA, specifically the form known as secretory IgA, which is found in great amounts throughout the gut and respiratory system of adults. These antibodies consist of two joined IgA molecules and a so-called secretory component that seems to shield the antibody molecules from being degraded by the gastric acid and digestive enzymes in the stomach and intestines. Infants who are bottle-fed have few means for battling ingested pathogens until they begin making secretory IgA on their own, often several weeks or even months after birth.
The secretory IgA molecules passed to the suckling child are helpful in ways that go beyond their ability to bind to microorganisms and keep them away from the body’s tissues. First, the collection of antibodies transmitted to an infant is highly targeted against pathogens in that child’s immediate surroundings. The mother synthesizes antibodies when she ingests, inhales or otherwise comes in contact with a disease-causing agent. Each antibody she makes is specific to that agent; that is, it binds to a single protein, or antigen, on the agent and will not waste time attacking irrelevant substances. Because the mother makes antibodies only to pathogens in her environment, the baby receives the protection it most needs-against the infectious agents it is most likely to encounter in the first weeks of life.
Second, the antibodies delivered to the infant ignore useful bacteria normally found in the gut. This flora serves to crowd out the growth of harmful organisms, thus providing another measure of resistance. Researchers do not yet know how the mother’s immune system knows to make antibodies against only pathogenic and not normal bacteria, but whatever the process may be, it favors the establishment of “good bacteria” in a baby’s gut.
Secretory IgA molecules further keep an infant from harm in that, unlike most other antibodies, they ward off disease without causing inflammation-a process in which various chemicals destroy microbes but potentially hurt healthy tissue. In an infant’s developing gut, the mucosal membrane is extremely delicate, and an excess of these chemicals can do considerable damage. Interestingly, secretory IgA can probably protect mucosal surfaces other than those in the gut. In many countries, particularly in the Middle East, western South America and northern Africa, women put milk in their infants’ eyes to treat infections there. I do not know if this remedy has ever been tested scientifically, but there are theoretical reasons to believe it would work. It probably does work at least some of the time, or the practice would have died out.
The findings on breastmilk antibodies serve to reinforce the superior nutritional value of breastmilk for newborns, which offers the baby long-term benefits that infant formula has been unable to match.
“Furthermore, the quantity of sugars produced by the mother changes as the baby ages so that a newborn baby will receive a higher amount of sugars in the breastmilk compared to a six-month-old.”
The presence of these sugars allows ‘friendly’ bacteria to flourish and out-compete any harmful bacteria that may be in the baby’s gut, such as Group B streptococcus.
Since protection by breastmilk occurs primarily at the mucosal surface from factors including secretory IgA (sigA) and human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) such as lacto-N-difucohexaose I, it becomes more more resilient to protein breakdown and so is able to exert its function in the gastrointestinal tract.
The pathogens attach onto the sugar, which is subsequently excreted by the body’s immune system.
Research from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine explored this paradox demonstrating that breast milk has a strong virus killing effect and protects against oral transmission of HIV.
Vaccines vs. Breastmilk
Vaccines inhibit the growth of essential immune cells early in life, and avoiding vaccines could actually improve an infant’s response to infection. More specifically, vaccines suppress very specific types of proteins found in breastmilk which inhibits the growth of specific cancers.
“What happens at an early age is that natural killer cells, like many other immune cells, do not complete their functional maturation until adulthood,” says study senior author Yasmina Laouar, Ph.D., assistant professor in the U-M Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
“During this time we are left with an immature immune system that cannot protect us against infections, the reason why newborns and infants are more prone to infection,” she says.
Vaccines promote and extend the immature immune system of infants preventing the natural formation of immune cells. This is not only accomplished by interfering with DNA but introducing heavy metals such as aluminum, mercury and other toxic preservatives found in vaccines.
There is a large gap in understanding infant immunity, specifically why the natural killer cell responses are deficient. The study by immunologists at the U-M demonstrates the role of a cell called transforming growth factor beta that can explain why most vaccine scientists mistakenly believe that suppression of the body’s natural signaling mechanisms benefits immunity when it actively suppresses it.
As is true of defensive molecules, immune cells are abundant in human milk. They consist of white blood cells, or leukocytes, that fight infection themselves and activate other defense mechanisms. The most impressive amount is found in colostrum. Most of the cells are neutrophils, a type of phagocyte that normally circulates in the bloodstream. Some evidence suggests that neutrophils continue to act as phagocytes in the infant’s gut. Yet they are less aggressive than blood neutrophils and virtually disappear from breast milk six weeks after birth.
Milk lymphocytes manufacture several chemicals-including gamma-interferon, migration inhibition factor and monocyte chemotactic factor-that can strengthen an infant’s own immune response.
Infants aren’t allergic to human milk protein but are often allergic to proteins in vaccines. Proteins in breast milk are soft, easily-digestible whey, have lactoferrin for intestinal health, antimicrobial lysozymes, rich growth factors and sleep-inducing proteins.
When mother is exposed to a germ, she makes antibodies to that germ and gives these antibodies to her infant via her milk. In vaccines, there are no live white blood cells and no immunological benefit for infants since there are no functional immunoglobulins to enhance the body. Breastmilk is rich in living white blood cells, millions per feeding and rich in immunoglobulins which benefit the immature immune system.
Unlike breastmilk, vaccines contain no digestive enzymes to promote intestinal health. Hormones in human milk contribute to the overall biochemical balance and well- being of baby. By taking on the flavor of mother’s diet, breastmilk shapes the tastes of the child to family foods. Vaccines on the other hand create synergistic toxicity which is a well-known phenomenon where the combination of toxic substances can be greater than the sum of its parts.
Vaccination for infants, especially newborns is being slowly established as one of the more risky medical interventions in conventional healthcare. While vaccines have been correlated with allergies, respiratory infections and type 1 diabetes, breastmilk has been shown to prevent all of the above.
If we allow an infant’s immune system to naturally develop with optimal nourishment, breast milk, and vitamin D, there is little more that any infant will need to optimize health. If we continue to pursue artificial means of immunization, it will only lead to the polar opposite result, immune suppression and inevitably disease.
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