Did you know that a considerable portion of human breast milk is indigestible by the nursing infant? Does that issue have a purpose? Yes. It is a system that has evolved over millennia to actually help the baby. Specialized sugars in mother’s milk cannot be digested in the small intestine or stomach. Rather than feeding the infant, they provide food for bacteria living inside the baby’s large intestine.
The gut microbes are crucial for the baby’s long-term health. There is a sophisticated system for delivering and maintaining them. This includes inoculation by healthy bacteria in the birth canal, microbes in breast milk, and bacteria transferred from the mother’s skin around the nipple to the infant.
What’s more, research suggests that microbes from the mouth of the nursing baby convey information to the mom about the baby’s health needs.
These are several amazing functions of our microbiome, which is composed of bacteria, viruses, and yeasts that live in and on us. Some experts estimate that humans have outsourced up to 90 percent of their day-to-day metabolic functions to the microbiome.
We have co-evolved with microbes, and they are found everywhere in our environment. Researchers are gaining new insights into how crucial they are for the health and balance of all ecosystems and their inhabitants.
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