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Benefits of Daily Probiotics

goodbacteriaProbiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines between harmful and beneficial bacteria and work to remove toxins from the body. The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt with live cultures, is the best known. Yeast is also a probiotic substance.

Probiotics promote healthy digestion by providing beneficial bacteria to recolonize and balance the GI tract, and hinder the growth of harmful, toxic bacteria, while also promoting a healthy immune system.

Probiotics may seem new to the food and supplement industry, but they have been with us from our first breath. During a vaginal birth while the newborn passes through the birth canal, a newborn picks up bacteria from his/her mother. These good bacteria are not transmitted when a Cesarean section is performed and have been shown to be the reason why some infants born by Cesarean section have allergies, less than optimal immune systems, and lower levels of gut microflora.

What are probiotics used for?
Some people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea, gas, and cramping caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill “good” (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria. This can help prevent diarrhea.

A decrease in beneficial bacteria may also lead to other infections, such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections, and symptoms such as diarrhea from intestinal illnesses.

Probiotics may also be used to:

• Help with other causes of diarrhea.

• Help prevent infections in the digestive tract.

• Help control immune response (inflammation), as in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

When using probiotics, the idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria. Our body does have a need for the bad ones and the good ones. The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good. An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.

Maintaining the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is necessary for optimal health.

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. On the flip side, it takes in the things that our body needs (nutrients from food and water) and absorbs and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.

The other way that probiotics help is the impact that they have on our immune system. Some believe that this role is the most important. Our immune system is our protection against germs. When it doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders (for example, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), and infections (for example, infectious diarrhea, Helicobacter pylori, skin infections, and vaginal infections). By maintaining the correct balance from birth, the hope would be to prevent these ailments. Our immune system can benefit anytime that balanced is restored, so it’s never too late.

Probiotics convert the fiber in food into healthy fatty acids that nourish the cells that line the intestines. They also help the intestines make short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to the overall health of the body.

Benefits of Probiotics in Pregnancy
Many women suffer from digestive issues, such as heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and intestinal cramps, during pregnancy. Probiotics help relieve constipation and other intestinal issues by improving gastrointestinal function. The healthy bacteria can also improve the immune system of both the mother and baby during pregnancy. Probiotics can help you fight off or avoid colds and other illnesses, which is essential during pregnancy due to a suppressed immune system. Taking probiotics during pregnancy may also help prevent allergies and eczema in both mothers and infants.

A study performed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology discovered a lasting impact on babies whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy. According to this study, babies and toddlers up to 2 years old were 40 percent less likely to suffer from eczema compared to babies whose mothers did not drink probiotics. Additionally, babies who did experience eczema had less severe cases. This study, which was published in the “British Journal of Dermatology,” highlights the effectiveness in preventing eczema in children and did not indicate any adverse risks to the mother or baby.

References
Parenting; Ask Dr Sears: Probiotics During Pregnancy?; William Sears;
http://alturl.com/354h8
Pregnancy Today; Probiotics and Pregnancy; Teri Brown
Colorado State University Extension; Food Safety During Pregnancy; J. Dean & P. Kendall; December 2006
San Mateo Medical Center; Acidophilus and Other Probiotics; 2011

Delaying Umbilical Cord Clamping

Clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord should be delayed for three minutes after birth, particularly for pre-term infants, suggests a senior doctor, Dr. Andrew Weeks, in the British Medical Journal. 28/08/2007.
Early clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord is widely practiced as part of the management of labor, but recent studies suggest that it may be harmful to the baby. Dr Andrew Weeks, a senior lecturer in obstetrics at the University of Liverpool, looked at the evidence behind cord clamping. For the mother, trials show that early cord clamping has no ill effects, he writes. But what about the baby?

At birth, he says, the umbilical cord sends oxygen-rich blood to the lungs until breathing establishes. When a baby is born it must transfer from receiving oxygen from the placenta to receiving oxygen from its lungs. For this to happen, the baby’s lungs must first expand, and the burst of blood from the umbilical cord helps to get the newborn’s lungs to expand properly. So as long as the cord is unclamped, the average transfusion to the newborn is equivalent to 21 percent of the neonate’s final blood volume and three quarters of the transfusion occurs in the first minute after birth. For babies born at term, the main effect of this large autotransfusion is to increase their iron status.

This may be lifesaving in areas where anemia is endemic. In the developed world, however, there have been concerns that it could increase the risk of abnormally high levels of red blood cells and bile pigments in the bloodstream often leading to jaundice. But trials has shown this is not the case.

Umbilical cord blood is a baby’s life blood until its birth. It contains stem cells, red blood cells, and more recently scientists have discovered that umbilical cord blood contains cancer-fighting T-cells.
For pre-term babies the beneficial effects of delayed clamping is greater, he says. Delayed clamping is consistently associated with reductions in anemia, bleeding in the brain, and the need for transfusion.
He proposes that in normal births, delaying cord clamping for three minutes with the baby on the mother’s abdomen should not be too difficult. The situation is a little more complex for babies born by caesarean section or for those who need support soon after birth. Nevertheless, it is these babies who may benefit most from a delay in cord clamping. For them, a policy of ‘wait a minute’ would be pragmatic, he says.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) policy supports delayed cord clamping, stating:

“The optimal time to clamp the umbilical cord for all infants regardless of gestational age or fetal weight is when the circulation in the cord has ceased, and the cord is flat and pulseless (approximately 3 minutes or more after birth).” 

They continue:
“Clamping the umbilical cord immediately (within the first 10 to 15 seconds after delivery) prevents the newborn from receiving adequate blood volume and consequently sufficient iron stores.
Immediate cord clamping has been shown to increase the incidence of iron deficiency and anemia during the first half of infancy, with lower birth weight. Waiting to clamp the umbilical cord allows a physiological transfer of placental blood to the infant which provides sufficient iron reserves for the first 6 to 8 months of life, preventing or delaying the development of iron deficiency …

For premature and low birth weight infants, immediate cord clamping can also increase the risk of intraventricular hemorrhage and late-onset sepsis.13 In addition, immediate cord clamping in these infants increases the need for blood transfusions for anemia and low blood pressure infants and infants born to iron-deficient mothers being at particular risk …

Numerous research studies and experts are also confirming that waiting to clamp the cord offers significant benefits. Among them:
• In the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, researchers say delayed cord clamping is “mankind’s first stem cell transfer and propose that it should be encouraged in normal births.”
• In a BMJ editorial, James Neilson, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, states that delayed clamping should be practiced.

Resources, Support:
“Early versus delayed umbilical cord clamping in preterm infants”. Rabe H, Reynolds GJ, Diaz-Rosello JL http://tinyurl.com/4w63wv8 (Cochrane Review)

ACOG Recommends Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping for All Healthy Infants http://tinyurl.com/lopdtn8

Eating Safely in Pregnancy

During your pregnancy, the body lowers its internal defenses against bacteria to accommodate the baby. Unfortunately, a less effective immune system puts mom and baby at a greater risk of food-borne illnesses. This leads expectant moms to become confused about food safety.
Coffee: For those women who would not be the same without their cup of morning coffee, take heart — coffee is considered safe during pregnancy. Because caffeine can cross the placenta and affect your baby, it is smart to limit your coffee to 2 to 3 cups per day, maximum. Pregnancy hormones and metabolism can wreak havoc on your digestive system, so coffee may make you a bit more jittery than usual. If you find yourself having a hard time dealing with coffee, try to cut back even more, or go half-decaf.
Caffeinated Soda: The same rules dealing with coffee pertain to caffeinated soda — moderation is key, so try to limit your intake of soda to no more than 24 ounces(680 g) per day. Since it has no nutritional value, try replacing it with water, milk( 2% of lower) or a healthy juice (watch the sugar content!)
Diet Soda: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and Splenda® safe to eat during pregnancy. However, it is artificial, and Splenda® hasn’t been around long enough to research long term effects. Unless you’re diabetic, it may be worth just splurging on an occasional non-diet soft drink, and avoid artificial sweeteners altogether.
Tea: A cup of tea can be a relaxing part of your day, and some teas can have added health benefits as well. Be sure to watch caffeine content.
Chocolate: Some women who fear consuming too much caffeine while pregnant and limit their intake of chocolate will be happy to know that because the amount is negligible, they can indulge in this favorite craving. Beware — chocolate during pregnancy is a notorious cause of heartburn! (watch the calories too!)
Vegetarian or Vegan Diet: because these diets tend to be very well balanced and healthy, most healthcare providers will not advise against a vegetarian or vegan diet. However, studies have shown that pregnant women on these types of diets may suffer from a B12 deficiency which can lead to serious anemia. Be sure to get extra calcium and protein if on these diets and your Vit. B complex.
Fish:women should avoid certain types of large fish that contain high levels of mercury. There are many other types of fish and shellfish that will give them the benefits of omega-3s: Shrimp, flounder, scallops, catfish and crab are all examples of fish that are safe to eat during pregnancy. Just be sure that they are fully cooked.
Spicy Foods: While spicy foods may wreak havoc on your digestion, and cause searing heartburn, it’s safe to eat during pregnancy. Interestingly enough, certain strong tastes can cross the placenta and babies learn to have a taste for what their mom likes.
Livestock with antibiotics: Because the levels of antibiotics in livestock are so
minute, red meat is safe to eat during pregnancy. If you’re concerned, eat organic, free-range meat to ease your worries. Be sure to cook your red meat medium to well done during pregnancy.
Sugar: Pregnant women can safely consume regular sugars, in moderation. These sugars include granulated sugar, honey and brown sugar.

Foods that Aren’t Safe to Eat During Pregnancy
Alcohol: Alcohol in any amount is unsafe for the health and development of your baby.
Un-pasteurized Juices: Un-pasteurized juice can harbor bacteria that can affect you and your baby. Unless you’ve washed, squeezed and bottled the juice yourself, you have no idea how it was handled before it got to you. The process of pasteurization should kill all bacteria, making it a safe during pregnancy.
Smoked/Cured Meats and Deli Meats: Cold cuts and smoked meats can harbor bacteria like E. coli and listeria, which can be very dangerous for a pregnant woman and her baby. Avoid them during pregnancy, as well hot dogs — even the ones you make at home.
Fish: although fish is generally safe to eat during pregnancy, certain large fish which prey on smaller fish may have unsafe levels of mercury in their flesh. Avoid shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel during pregnancy. Limit tuna to smaller types of tuna, and canned tuna, to about 6 ounces (170 g) per week.
Soft Cheeses: Certain soft cheeses can harbor bacteria as well — stick with hard or pasteurized cheese

Is it safe to each sushi during pregnancy?
From http://pregnancychildbirth.suite101.com/articles.cfm by Jody Morse
Why Eating Sushi During Pregnancy is Okay
According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are a few reasons why sushi should not be avoided entirely. Remember that fish offers numerous health benefits. The vitamins and nutrients which can be found in sushi can actually be beneficial to the growth and development of the baby. Keep in mind that sushi is also often cooked, so the risk of bacteria is not quite as high as one may think.

Sushi to Avoid or Limit During Pregnancy
Keep in mind that there are certain types of fish which should be avoided by pregnant women, no matter how they are cooked. Kajiki (swordfish), Saba (mackerel), shark, and tilefish are the four types of sushi that should be avoided during pregnancy. While most people are recommended to only eat these types of fish once a month, women who are pregnant are advised to avoid them altogether.

There are other types of fish would do not need to be avoided entirely, but should be limited because they are higher in mercury than other types of fish. It is recommended that pregnant women do not eat any more than three six-ounce servings a month. This list of sushi includes shiro, hamachi, makjiki, toro, inada, meji, buri, kanpachi, masu, ahi, katsuo, and maguro. The types of fish which are used in these sushi dishes include yellowfin tuna, albacore tuna, yellowtail, bonito, bluefin tuna, bluefin, big eye, trout, and blue marlin.

Types of Sushi Women Can Enjoy While Pregnant
Although women should avoid the above mentioned types of sushi at all times during their pregnancy, there are other types which are lower in mercury. These types of fish can be enjoyed by women who are pregnant on a more regular basis.

Preconceptional Counseling and Care

Becoming a parent is a major commitment in life. It can be met with challenges, rewards and informed choices. Before you conceive, be sure to incorporate a healthy life-style to ensure optimal health for mom and baby. Receiving pre-conceptional counseling and care can lay the ground work for a healthy lifestyle and healthy pregnancy. Good health before pregnancy can help you cope with the stress of pregnancy, labor and birth. Obtaining good health care before you conceive will help you throughout your pregnancy. It also provides you with the opportunity to find out your risks, treat any medical problems that may affect the outcome of your pregnancy and adopt or continue a healthy lifestyle.

If you are planning to conceive, schedule a pre-conceptional visit with your healthcare provider. Included in your visit is a comprehensive history of your health including: Family history and risk factors, your medical history, surgical history, medications that you are presently taking including vitamins, supplements, OTC (over-the-counter) meds; your diet and lifetstyle and any past pregnancies.

Your preconception visit is a time for you to ask questions. Do not hesitate to seek advice, discuss your concerns and your options. Your healthcare provider is there to provide information and guidance to help you make informed choices in your healthcare to help you obtain and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Women who are planning to conceive should stop their form of birth control several months in advance. Even though methods vary in use, it may affect when your menses resumes and becomes regular. During this time you may also want to start taking a prenatal vitamin daily to ensure you are getting added vitamins and increased folic acid.

Your lifestyle includes diet, exercise, weight, substance use, living/working environment and infection history. Current immunizations are important to prevent any infections during your pregnancy that can harm you and your baby, even if you were vaccinated as a child (measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus), you may not be immune now. If you are vaccinated prior to conceiving, you will be protected. The vaccine for mumps, measles and especially rubella should be given at least 3 months
prior to conceiving. During this period of time, you should use a reliable method birth control.

Optimal health at any time during your lifetime involves a healthy diet and the proper amount of exercise. Ideally, you should be in good physical shape and follow a regular exercise regimen before your conceive. If you are not used to being active, you should start an exercise program gradually.

Tobacco, alcohol and recreational (illegal) drug use is addictive and can harm you and your baby that can last a lifetime or even result in death. They can have detrimental affects on the organ formation, causing damage. The misuse of prescription medication can also harm the fetus. For the sake of your own health and that of your baby, now is a good time to cut back on smoking and alcohol and quit all recreational drugs. It takes time and patience to quit a habit, especially if you have had that particular habit for a long time. Ask your healthcare provider to suggest ways to get through the withdrawal state or quitting and to refer you to support groups. Your decision to quit may be one of the hardest things you have ever done, but it will be one of the most worthwhile.

Does your work environment impose any hazards? If you are trying to conceive, it is a good idea to look closely at your work place and surroundings. Are you exposed to toxic substances, chemicals, or radiation? Discuss your level of exposure to specific substances with your employee health division, personnel office or union representative.

Exposure to lead or certain solvents, pesticides or other chemicals can reduce your partner’s fertility by killing or damaging sperm. Unlike women, who are born with a complete supply of eggs for their entire lifespan, men make new sperm on a daily basis for most of their lives. Unless the damage to a man’s reproductive system is very serious, he will probably be able to make healthy sperm against a short time span after his exposure to the harmful material stops.

Questions to Consider…
• Do I or a member of my family have a disorder that could be inherited?
• Do I need to gain or lose weight to prepare for pregnancy?
• Should I make any changes in my lifestyle?
• Could any medications I am taking cause problems during my pregnancy?
• Can I continue my present exercise program?
• Does my work expose me to things that could be harmful during pregnancy?
• Do I need to be vaccinated for any infectious diseases before I try to conceive?