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Health Tips
Stay healthy by reading wellness advice from our top specialists.

All health and nutrition experts as well as doctors recommend only breast milk for infants as it is considered the complete meal for the baby. Breast milk is said to have antibodies that are important for the baby's immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses. This is why it is said to be imperative that mothers feed their babies in the initial few months after birth. A new study has further shed light on why human breast milk is better for the babies than cow's milk or baby formula. The study has found that the presence of a small molecule called glycerol monolaurate (GML) is the reason why breast milk has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The study revealed that the molecule is present in much larger concentrations in breast milk as compared to bovine milk.

The study report titled, "Glycerol Monolaurate Contributes to the Antimicrobial and Anti-inflammatory Activity of Human Milk" was published in the journal Scientific Reports. The study demonstrated the GML concentration in breast milk was 3000 micrograms per millitre, as compared to just 150 micrograms per millitre in cow's milk. Infant formula milk had no GML presence whatsoever, said the study. The researchers also tested the action of GML against bacteria namely Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli. It was found that human breast milk was the most anti-microbial against the bacteria tested.Furthermore, the researchers also found that when GML was removed from the milk, there was a loss of antibacterial activity against pathogenic elements.

The study report described GML as a "fatty acid monoester with broad antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties". The report further said, "The antimicrobial properties of GML and free fatty acids extend to nearly all Gram-positive bacterial species except certain lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and enterococci." Additionally, the molecule was also found to be effecitve against pro-inflammatory processes.The study concluded by saying, "Collectively, our data suggest that human milk is both inhibitory to pathogen growth and exhibits anti-inflammatory activity with both activities in part dependent on GML. In contrast, bovine milk and commercial formula lacked or had greatly reduced GML and exhibited neither antimicrobial nor anti-inflammatory properties."

All health and nutrition experts as well as doctors recommend only breast milk for infants as it is considered the complete meal for the baby. Breast milk is said to have antibodies that are important for the baby's immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses. This is why it is said to be imperative that mothers feed their babies in the initial few months after birth. A new study has further shed light on why human breast milk is better for the babies than cow's milk or baby formula. The study has found that the presence of a small molecule called glycerol monolaurate (GML) is the reason why breast milk has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The study revealed that the molecule is present in much larger concentrations in breast milk as compared to bovine milk.

The study report titled, "Glycerol Monolaurate Contributes to the Antimicrobial and Anti-inflammatory Activity of Human Milk" was published in the journal Scientific Reports. The study demonstrated the GML concentration in breast milk was 3000 micrograms per millitre, as compared to just 150 micrograms per millitre in cow's milk. Infant formula milk had no GML presence whatsoever, said the study. The researchers also tested the action of GML against bacteria namely Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli. It was found that human breast milk was the most anti-microbial against the bacteria tested.Furthermore, the researchers also found that when GML was removed from the milk, there was a loss of antibacterial activity against pathogenic elements.

The study report described GML as a "fatty acid monoester with broad antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties". The report further said, "The antimicrobial properties of GML and free fatty acids extend to nearly all Gram-positive bacterial species except certain lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and enterococci." Additionally, the molecule was also found to be effecitve against pro-inflammatory processes.The study concluded by saying, "Collectively, our data suggest that human milk is both inhibitory to pathogen growth and exhibits anti-inflammatory activity with both activities in part dependent on GML. In contrast, bovine milk and commercial formula lacked or had greatly reduced GML and exhibited neither antimicrobial nor anti-inflammatory properties."

Pregnant women are advised to be very careful about their diet. Certain foods are said to be a strict no for expectant mothers and nutritionists and health experts always advise pregnant women to omit these foods and drinks from their diets, lest their harm their babies in some way. This is why during pregnancy a healthy meal plan should ideally be in place to ensure health of the mother and the baby. A new study has pointed towards the harmful effects of consuming potato chips and vegetable oil during pregnancy. The study warns mothers about the side-effects of consuming too much of these two foods, saying that such a diet may increase risk of complications during pregnancy and may even hamper development of the baby. However, it's the reason behind this warning that's a shocker- omega 6 fatty acids.

Researchers have said excessive presence of omega 6 fats, particularly linoleic acid, in pregnancy diet may result in increased inflammation and in the mother's body and may even increase the risk of heart diseases. The results of the study were published in The Journal of Physiology and they said that consuming linoleic acid that equaled three times the safe consumption limit, was harmful for mothers during pregnancy term. The study was conducted on rats and it was observed that pregnant rodents who consumed diets rich in linoleic acid had high concentrations of inflammatory proteins in their livers.

Additionally, they also had high concentrations of a protein which could induce contractions in the uterus during pregnancy, as well as low levels of a hormone which is important for regulating growth and development of the baby. Human diets rich in linoleic acid, also tend to be rich in fats, sugar and salt, said the researchers. Study lead author Deanne Skelly, Professor at Griffith University in Australia said in an IANS report, "It is important for pregnant women to consider their diet, and our research is yet another example that potentially consuming too much of a certain type of nutrient can have a negative impact on the growing baby."

Motherhood is a big responsibility. Being a caretaker and a nurturer requires a lot of hard work and time. Staying active physically, emotionally and spiritually is the most difficult work of all. It is even more tiring as the entire process of giving birth is a tiring task in itself.
In order to get over this tiredness, according to Ayurveda, one should try to calm their Vata. Spiritual elements of the body are collectively called Vata. Vata is responsible for maintaining the balance and order of the body.

How to calm Vata?

##Diet

#For the Mother:
A mother is tired, sleep deprived, and in pain after the daunting process of giving birth.

-She should be present in cold and dry environment at all times
-To calm her Vata, she should maintain her diet as well
-This includes having light food, good fruits, and a lot of water
-It is very important to remember she shouldn’t eat spicy food at all
-She should try having food that provides nourishment to the body by including special herbs in the food, like Fenugreek, Ashwagandha and Pippali. These herbs stimulate the nourishing quality of food and provide the perfect balance to body.

#For the Baby:
When it comes to taking care of infants, the best medicine and nurturer is the mother’s milk.

-After the toddler is 10-11 months old, Ayurveda can play a major role in their diet.
-Rasayana and Chyawanprash can boost immunity in children and calm their Vata.
-Swarna bhasma when mixed with ghee and honey can be a very effective medicine during cold.
-Shankhapushpi is also a medicinal herb that is very useful to boost immunity during the winters.

#Physical Care
-Physical care is important for both the mother and the baby. This includes mild massages and exercises from time to time.
-Massages in the mother should be focused on the hip and the lower back region, as those are the places that experience most pain in the body. Ashwagandha and Bala oils are the best to massage with.
-When it comes to the child, the most focused part is the skin. Though infants shouldn’t be subjected to massages at first, after a year, one can massage a baby with Snehana and Ashwagandha oils to improve the skin.

#Emotional Care
-The mother and the child need emotional support more than anything. This requires a mother to spend time with her child as much as possible.
-A mother should get ample amount of sleep during the nights. So, as much as possible, the father should take care of the child during the nights.

Above are some of the best practices to nurture mother and the child. But it's not an easy task. It's going to be challenging and confusing, but once this becomes a habit, everything will fall into places. Consulting an Ayurvedic doctor is very helpful at this stage.

Are you using baby wipes for your infant? If yes, then stop doing so because a new study has found that baby wipes increase the risk of developing life-threatening food allergies in children.

The genetics that alters skin absorbency, use of infant cleansing wipes that leave soap on the skin, skin exposure to allergens in dust and skin exposure to food from those providing infant care are some of the factors contributing to food allergies in babies.

Researchers said that food allergy is triggered when these factors occur together.


Joan Cook-Mills, a professor at Northwestern University in the US said,"This is a recipe for developing food allergy. It's a major advance in our understanding of how food allergy starts early in life."

Cook-Mills said that factors leading to food allergy can be modified in the home environment.

She said,"Reduce baby's skin exposure to the food allergens by washing your hands before handling the baby."

She added,"Limit use of infant wipes that leave soap on the skin. Rinse soap off with water like we used to do years ago."

Cook-Mills made the discovery by using clinical evidence about food allergy in humans, the effects of food allergen and environmental allergen exposures and neonatal mice with genetic mutations that occur in humans.

Clinical evidence shows up to 35 per cent of children with food allergies have atopic dermatitis and much of that is explained by at least three different gene mutations that reduce the skin barrier.

Cook-Mills used a neonatal mouse model with skin barrier mutations and tried exposing its skin to food allergens like peanuts. The peanuts alone had no effect.

Babies are exposed to environmental allergens in dust in a home.

"They may not be eating food allergens as a newborn, but they are getting them on their skin. Say a sibling with peanut butter on her face kisses the baby. Or a parent is preparing food with peanuts and then handles the baby," she said.

The top skin layer is made of fats, and the soap in the wipes disrupts that barrier, Cook-Mills said.

Skin problems that occur with skin barrier mutations may not be visible until long after a food allergy has already started.

The neonatal mice with the mutations had normal-appearing skin, and the dry itchy skin of dermatitis did not develop until the mice were a few months old, the equivalent of a young adult in human years.

After the neonatal mice received three to four skin exposures of food and dust allergens for 40 minutes during a two-week period, they were given egg or peanut by mouth.

The mice had allergic reactions at the site of skin exposure, allergic reactions in the intestine, and the severe allergic food reaction of anaphylaxis that is measured by decreased body temperature.

A skin barrier dysfunction was necessary for food allergy to develop in the mice, but there is a wide continuum of severe to mild skin dysfunction with eczema or atopic dermatitis, which in its mildest form may simply appear to be dry skin.

In patients with skin-barrier defects, there are changes in the proteins in the skin that are a result of mutations in the genes.

These gene mutations in patients are primarily heterozygous, which means there is a mutation in one of the two copies of a gene.

Accordingly, in the preclinical studies, neonatal mice were also heterozygous for skin barrier mutations.

The mice were co-exposed to food allergens such as egg and peanut proteins, allergens in dust (house dust mite or Alternaria alternata mold) and sodium lauryl sulphate, a soap present in infant cleansing wipes.

Cook-Mills said, these novel animal studies provide a basis to test interventions that will more effectively block the development of food allergy in infants and children.

Dr. Amar S. Shete
Dr. Amar S. Shete
BAMS, Family Physician, Pune
Dr. Prashant Wankhede
Dr. Prashant Wankhede
MS/MD - Ayurveda, Pune
Dr. Akash Kadam
Dr. Akash Kadam
BDS, Dentist Oral Medicine Specialist, 4 yrs, Pune
Dr. Pradnya Shirke
Dr. Pradnya Shirke
MS/MD - Ayurveda, Gynaecologist Infertility Specialist, 17 yrs, Pune
Dr. Virag  Kulkarni
Dr. Virag Kulkarni
BAMS, Ayurveda Panchakarma, 14 yrs, Pune
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