Eat your Boogers, Spanish Sunshine and Reflections on Motherhood

Hold the phone! It's May and I've totally fallen off the wagon with blog posts. It's been a busy spring here in Midwife land....I've caught a lot of babies recently and even squeaked in a week- long climbing trip to Spain (I wish I could have stayed a month!). While I work on a more intelligent post, here's a few things of things that have caught my attention lately. 

Mark Sisson's Post on "How to Establish a Healthy Gut in your Primal Baby ".  I've talked about this before but gut bacteria is a passion of mine! This is a good overall summary. I especially like the research about letting kids eat their boogers :) I knew there was a reason EVERY kid does this...hilarious

Megan Over at Detoxinista shares a great guide to help you get started with cloth diapers. I don't usually recommend them in the first few weeks when mom's are deprived, babies are clearing out all that sticky black meconium and it's just best to keep things easy. But, after the first few weeks, cloth is a great option and good investment especially if your planning on having a few more little paleo babies in the years to follow. 

This post on Mind Body Green is a beautiful reflection on what Pregnancy can teach you and how your changing body be a vessel for finding inner peace and acceptance. In celebration of Mothers Day today, check this article out. 

Finally, I connected with a lovely friend who is one inspirational woman! She flew from France to Spain to meet us for a few days of climbing. She flew by herself,  with a 4-month old baby and only carry on luggage (my packing hero!). Her baby was also insanely adorable!



Food and Feelings: The Effects of Gut Microflora on our brains and babies

Thank you for all your kind emails. I get so amped up and totally inspired by all your questions. I try my very best to answer each one, but these days it's been tough. I'm a bit run off my feet getting my midwifery practice re-established, buying my first house and trying to find some time for a social life..maybe even a love life too (?) 

Still trying to find time for a little bit of ski time play....my paleo friendly sandwich during this ski day had fermented pickles in in :) 

Still trying to find time for a little bit of ski time play....my paleo friendly sandwich during this ski day had fermented pickles in in :) 

With this insane schedule, I've had to work hard to keep myself healthy. Recently I've added fermented foods into my daily routine. I'm happy to report that I've noticed big changes in my immune function, gut health and even my mental wellbeing.  I've been consuming daily doses of Kombucha, kimchi and raw kraut and find that my body just can't get enough of this good stuff!   I firmly believe in the amazing power of probiotics and am fascinated by all the kick-ass research coming out about the effects of gut micobotics on both our physical and emotional selves.  

 In a spontaneous moment of nerdy pleasure this week, I came across a recent journal article that looks at a phenomenon called "developmental programming". This fascinating theory explores how environmental influences early in an organisms development affect an organism's later structure, and function. More specifically, this theory examines the effects of gut microflora and early colonization on human development. Most of the early data indicates that gut microbiota may have systemic effects on liver function. This raising the possibility that gut microbiota can and most likely does, have developmental effects in other organs elsewhere in the body.....like the human brain.

How does bacteria get into our guts in the first place?

Good question! I'm glad I asked :) 

Before we are born, our guts are sterile, a.k.a free of all bacteria. It is the process of birth that starts the colonization process.  A recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal  found that the mode of delivery significantly impacts the types of bacteria found in our guts. For example, babies born vaginally have significantly more of the health promoting Escherichia-Shigella and Bacteroides species while babies born by c-section have significantly more c.difficile bacteria. C. difficile is associated with increased risk of asthma, obesity and type 1 diabetes.

So how does this affect our brains if the bacteria is in our bums?

The human brain is suceptible to cues from both internal and external sources especially during the period of  infancy when it undergoes most of it's growth and development. Some studies have indicated that there is a possible link between common neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia, and microbial pathogen infections during the perinatal period. Animal studies have show that exposure to microbial pathogens during early developmental periods result in behavioral abnormalities, including anxiety-like behavior and impaired cognitive function. Interesting stuff! 

I'm no microbiologist...but this is pretty cool

I'm no microbiologist...but this is pretty cool

Our bellies are filled with neurotransmitter receptors for tryptophan, serotonin and GABA (AKA all the feel good chemicals) ...just like our brains. This is the reason that the gut is often called our "second brain".  So if these neurotransmitter receptors exist in our bellies....how does the health of our bellies and bacteria that colonize our guts effect our happiness?? 

Well....cliffhanger...I don't have all the answers..but it would stand to reason that if our guts help produce many of the chemical compounds that affect mood patterns in the brain, it could significantly contribute to our overall happiness and wellbeing. Perhaps overly simplified...but hey...simple is good. I'm so pumped to learn more about the science behind this all. 

" Oh man...I had to have a c-section. Does this mean my baby is at risk? "

Paleo Mama's, if you required a c-section for medical reasons don't play the blame game! Mama guilt is the worst....fear not....these things can be fixed and here are a few good places to start: 

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BioGaia-ProTectis-droppar.jpeg

Bio Gaia - From a swedish company, this baby friendly probiotic will help support the development of beneficial bacteria in your babies little belly. 

Therbiotic Infant- Another great probiotic formula that can help optimize an infants gut colonization.

Breastfeed- Breastfed babies are have greater colonies of good bacteria. Breastmilk contains natural probiotics in addition to  large amounts of prebiotic oligosaccharides. Preboitics help support the healthy growth of beneficial bacteria in the belly. 

Further Reading:

Human Microbiome Project 

Daily Beast Article 

Chris Kresser Podcast Episode

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Reader Question: First Paleo-Friendly Baby Solids

I recently received a question (love your questions BTW!) from a passionate grandmother who was wondering what her daughter should start feeding her paleo baby as a first introduction to solid foods.  As a response, I've briefly summarized the 'chat' I have with all my clients about how to introduce solids into your babies diet. 

Canadian Paediatric Society, WHO and well as me, Meg the Paleo Midwife,  all recommend exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age and continued breastfeeding for as long as possible. You know your baby is ready to supplement breastfeeding with some solids when he/she can meet the following milestones: 

  • Can sit up and lean forward
  • Can communicate to mom and dad that they are full (e.g. turns head away)
  • Can pick up food and put it in their mouth and are usually interested in what's on your plate
  • Has good head control
  • Infants need a diet rich in iron and healthy fats (mostly from cholesterol)  for growth and cognitive development (BIG BRAINS).  At  6-months, babies nutritional needs increase considerably and are usually unable to be met by breast milk alone.

    In North America particuarly, for the past 50 years, the first recommended solid foods were iron fortified rice cereals (aka pablum).  I'm not too sure exactly why we started doing this. The ability to digest carbohydrates (besides lactose) usually comes later in digestive development around the age of two and I've never heard of a traditional culture feed their babies grains as a first introduction to food. This was likely clever marketing on the behalf of cereal companies.

    Recently, the Canadian government has recognized that whole food sources of iron are a better start for our babies and now recommend starting babies off with meats, beans, legumes and other "whole" protein sources. That being said, I am in no way recommending starting your baby off on tofu! Some things the government dieticians get right and some things they get so terribly wrong (aka Canada Food guide). 

    It is well known that the best way to absorb iron is via heme- iron, which is only found in animal sources such as meats, eggs and fish. In most Aboriginal communities, the first foods that are introduced include meat, fish and eggs. Introducing paleo friendly meats and animal protein early also helps your cavebaby's digestive system learn to produce adequate stomach acid, and sets the stage for good digestive health. 

    So what should you feed your paleo baby?

    The new Canadian guidelines state that babies should be offered iron rich protein sources twice a day and that the amount of food offered should be guided by the your babies hunger and satiety cues. That's pretty much bang on. The Weston A Price Foundation also has a fantastic guide for introducing solid foods. 

    Meat should be well cooked and pureed (think the Baby Bullet) and ideally mixed with breast milk which will provide supportive enzymes and fats which will aid in digestion and protect their immune function as these "foreign foods" are being introduced into the developing digestive system. Babies foods should be organic whenever possible, as their systems are extremely vulnerable to toxins and could place additional stress their developing liver. 

    Try foods a few times. Most mom's I talk to say it takes at least three or four times of trial and error with a new food before children will accept them. Remember, new tastes and textures take time to adjust to. After the third or fourth introduction, your baby should start to recognize them as familiar and will either accept or reject the food based on their individual tastes. The best strategy for developing "non-picky eaters" is to avoid making a big deal out of the food rejection,  just move on and offer something new. 

    Here's a quick list of nutrient rich paleo friendly foods to keep your little cavebaby happy and healthy: 

    • Grassfed Liver (think homemade pates)
    • Bone Broth
    • Egg Yolks
    • Pureed grassfed beef
    • Pureed Dark Poultry meats
    • Avocados
    • Yams (best offered later in development and fermented if possible to aid in carbohydrate digestion. Find the recipe here ) 
    • Coconut oil
    • Grassfed butter
    • Fermented cod liver oil (start with the unflavoured kind)