As most of you know - one of my daughters has eczema. Not a lot. And it's gotten way better. But she's prone to it. And one birthday party is all it takes for the itchy-scratchiness to stick around for weeks. Guess what I learned during my studies that struck me like a dagger through the heart:
WE HAVE UNTIL THE AGE OF TWO YEARS OLD TO DETERMINE OUR GUT'S BASELINE FLORA.
After the age of 2 years old, our gut flora becomes static. The good bacteria you have been living with from birth solidifies its long term relationship with your genetic make-up and cannot be changed.
So basically, I might be able to get to a point where I can control my daughter's eczema but she will be susceptible to it for life.
My eldest doesn't have eczema but she's always been prone to constipation and as a baby she was prone to upper respiratory tract infections -- as most C-section babies are.
She turns 8yrs old today, so I'm also too late to permanently alter her gut flora for life.
And if I may indulge in a tiny rant....I'm kind of upset that this golden nugget of information never once came up in any of the pre-natal classes or at any of the DOZENS of paediatrician visits I took my babies to in the first two years of their life. Now, I'm doomed to have one more thing to add to what seemingly is the never-ending list of Mother's Guilt Issues.
Seriously - if there's one thing that really upsets me it's Mother's Guilt. We can't know what we don't know or should know to find out. So, I'm going to take "a glass half-full approach" on this one and say - hey! I'm doing the best I can and the results have been a-okay to date.
But still the question remains - NOW WHAT? Are my children doomed to a future plagued with eczema, asthma, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, leaky gut and all the autoimmune diseases out there? Am I going to have to follow them to university with a refrigerated crate of probiotics and sneak them into their vodka-cranberries?
Because frankly....that would be creepy....
Here's what I've determined from my research.
All is not lost if your child is over the age of two and has gut issues.
You can safely supplement probiotics from the time of birth and over the long-term to overcome the gut flora you were born with. The trick is to find the right probiotic and to take it frequently so that you always have those strains working their magic in the gut.
My next post will be on the various different strains of probiotics out there, what those strains are good for and which are the best brands to buy, so that you know you're getting bang for your buck.
Don't miss it!
Cristina Tahoces is a holistic nutritionist and owns Thrive Nutrition Practice.