Breast milk helps maintain the healthy microbes in our gut
Taking probiotics supplements can improve human gut health. However, the positive effects of colonization by the good microbes are often short-lived. Researchers found that breast milk could help maintain these colonies in the long run.
Scientists at the University of California, Davis found in their current study that breast milk appears to help maintain the gut health benefits of probiotic supplements over a long period of time. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "mSphere".
How does it work if children consume breast milk and probiotics?
Breastfeeding babies and then taking probiotics that consume human milk for three weeks means that there are still colonies of these beneficial gut microbes 30 days after the end of probiotic treatment. The results of the study show for the first time that a combination of breast milk and a probiotic organism can lead to permanent changes in the intestinal microbiome, the authors say.
Healthy organisms are preserved longer
"Although we stopped giving the probiotic after 28 days, the particular organisms that we gave remained in the faecal community for 60 days or even longer," explains study leader Dr. Mark Underwood in a press release from the American Society for Microbiology. The healthy microbes have survived and dominated, something that has never been seen before.
Researchers study 66 breastfeeding mothers in their study
The doctors examined a total of 66 breastfeeding mothers for their study. These were divided into different groups, with 34 mothers providing their newborns with a probiotic supplement for three weeks. This was called: Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis EVC001. The mothers in the other group did not administer probiotics. The researchers analyzed their stool samples during the first 60 days of newborn life. These showed clear differences.
The colonies decrease when the child is no longer breastfeeding
Genetic sequencing, PCR analysis and mass spectrometry showed larger populations of B. infantis, which improved intestinal health in infants with probiotic supplements. These colonies remained for at least 30 days after the end of the supplement. This suggests that these changes were permanent, the scientists suspect. They hypothesize that the colonies will decrease as soon as the child is no longer breastfed.
B. Infantis uses sugar molecules in breast milk better than any other intestinal microbe
B. infantis appears to combine well with the sugar in breast milk to affect the gut microbiota. B. Infantis is a really effective consumer of milk oligosaccharides. Infantis can use the sugar molecules in breast milk better than any other intestinal microbe, the experts say. The results of the study showed that infants who received probiotic supplements had lower levels of milk oligosaccharides in their faeces. This means that larger amounts of B. Infantis milk oligosaccharides have been consumed.
Microbiota disorders increase the risk of disease
A microbiota disorder, especially early in life, can increase the risk of many diseases inside and outside the gut, including diabetes, allergies, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and some cancers, says author Dr. Underwood. If doctors find ways to colonize children's intestines with the beneficial bacteria, this could reduce lifelong health risks.
More research is needed
Several other differences could also be identified. Stool samples from infants who received the dietary supplement showed a lower number of potential pathogens and higher lactate and acetate levels, which are advantageous products of the fermentation of human milk sugars by B. infantis, the researchers explain. If it were possible to include the oligosaccharides in an agent, this would be a significant advantage for children who cannot be breastfed. Adding the probiotic for three weeks and an agent with additional milk oligosaccharides could cause colonization to take place and last as long as the children take the agent, Underwood adds. (as)