Many children today find it very hard to concentrate. Many are hyper active. Many are on the autism spectrum. Many have very serious allergies. Many are consistently ill. Most of these kids have digestive problems. All of this presents the child with a barrier to learning.
There is a link.
The main thesis of this, and the related posts, is that we as parents have much more influence over our child's ability to learn and to develop than any school. This influence is at its most powerful in the first 3 years of life and our influence begins prior to conception.
We know that we give our kids our genes. We also see, over time, the mystery of how our kids pick up our habits and gestures.
But there is a new element that we inherit that science is just now starting to see as being very important and, unlike genes and habits, this inheritance is largely in the control of the parents. It is the innate gut flora and immune system. More information here. In the womb, your baby is a blank slate in terms of gut flora and immune system.
Ideally, and of course we can't always have the ideal, when your baby is born vaginally, she picks up mainly mum's gut flora and sometimes a bit of dad too. So if your gut flora is healthy then, your baby will inherit a healthy system herself. Then if you breast feed, she will pick up your immune system. If you have a good immune system, then your baby will quickly develop a good immune system too.
I am now going to do a dangerous thing. I, a man, will offer adivice to women.
I know being a man makes it odd to give advice - I can never have a child or breast feed, but as a father and a grand father, I hope that you can have give your baby the best start possible and so I offer you all that I know to help you in this. And BTW, Dads to be, your gut flora is in the vagina too so it is up to us to get with the program as well.
Why should this matter?
We are learning that gut health is at the core of not only general health but also it is strongly linked to the development of the brain. There is a strong link being made between gut flora and autism and many kinds of attention disorders. Here is a series of articles on Gut Fora and why it is important and what you can do to improve it.
So what to do? Great gut flora and a great immune system is the best start you can give your child.
- Work to have the best gut flora and immune system you can have prior to delivery
- Test your gut health
- Do your best to give birth vaginally and then to breast feed for as long as you can
So what might compromise your gut flora? The two risks are anti biotics and grains.
The easy risk to deal with are antibiotics. You know if you have taken them and so, if you have, you can work to repair the damage. For while they kill off the bacteria that we worry about, they also kill off the bacteria that we depend on. If you as a mother to be have been on a course of antibiotics before or during pregancy, work hard to restore your gut health. Probiotics are very useful in repropagating your gut. Fermented food such as sauer kraut and kefir help too. Cereals and legumes work against good gut health. Animal fat and fish oil help too.
Get your gut health tested after you know that you are pregnant. You can get it tested here right now in the largest citizen science project ever.
The harder part is to reduce or eliminate grains from your diet. Cereals are the foundation of the western diet. They are the core of most of our meals and snacks. But they contain elements that disrupt our gut flora.
The best science resource for all of this is Dr Natasha Campbell McBribe - Here is her site.
Then after birth, please think about your baby's diet then. It makes no sense to be careful with your diet before she is born, and then revert back to the diet that can compromise her gut health. The challenge is that all of our culture tells you to feed your baby cereals. The culture makes it hard to continue breastfeeding.
So all I can do is to ask you this one question. Do you want your child to have the best start that you can give her, or not?