First 1,000 days of a child’s life may be the most important time for complex growth
Mothers can give the most important gift, the starting of a strong gut microbiome
The new microbiome of a child can set them up for optimal brain, gut, and immune development
Mothers are key to the health, vitality, and sustainability of all life on this planet! Wow!
Every May we celebrate Mother’s Day to honor moms and the love, devotion, and sacrifice they provide their families. It’s no secret that every mother wants to give her kids the absolute best and set them up for a bright future. What you might not know is the first 1,000 days of a child’s life – from conception to the age of two – provide a critical and unique opportunity for mothers to set the foundation for their child’s lifelong health.
The first 1,000 days of life are a time of fast growth and development, and the nutritional choices made during this period have a huge impact on a child’s brain development, gut health, and immunity.
During the first 1,000 days of life, the human brain grows faster than during any other time. It is vital that children are provided with the right nutrition throughout pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood to support the creation of neural pathways, and to prepare the brain for future cognitive skills and learning.
Nutrients of particular importance during pregnancy include protein, iron, folate, fatty acids, copper, iodine, and zinc, which all play key roles in fetal brain development.
Our Favorite Synergistic Good Gut Food Sources
As the brain continues to develop in infancy, children begin to gain motor skills such as balance and coordination. Breast milk remains the gold standard during this life stage with its abundance of nutrients, hormones, and growth factors that support healthy brain development.
By early childhood, more elaborate skills are being learned as the brain continues to grow rapidly. During this stage of development, it is important to focus on key nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc, and iodine, as the child’s diet shifts from liquid to solid foods.
Did you know that the microbiome composition of pregnant women differs from that of non-pregnant women? And it continues to change throughout the pregnancy! This unique maternal microbiome impacts fetal growth and the length of pregnancy. It may even start influencing the baby’s microbiota in utero.
However, the majority of microbial colonization occurs during childbirth. As a newborn passes through the vaginal canal and is inoculated with the mother’s microbiota, the establishment of their unique gut microbiome begins. After birth, the child’s diet continues to develop the gut microbiome further until it stabilizes around the age of two.
As mentioned before, breast milk remains the gold standard when it comes to infant nutrition thanks to its numerous health benefits. Beneficial microbes are passed from mother to baby through breast milk as microbial colonization of the gut continues to develop after birth. What’s more, breast milk contains HMOs (Human Milk Oligosaccharides) – special prebiotic fiber that acts as food for the developing microbiome that helps it to grow and flourish.
As you may already know, approximately 70% of our immune system is located in the gut, so providing children with gut-friendly nutrition helps them develop a powerful immune system to fend off environmental risks.
Breast milk plays a crucial role in immunity by transferring maternal immune components from mom to baby, which provides them with passive immunity. This is especially important in the first few days of life, before a newborn's immune system has had time to develop.
On top of that, breast milk has been linked to a lower incidence of common childhood health problems such as allergies, asthma, and atopic dermatitis. It truly deserves the nickname “Nature’s Superfood!”
What We Recommend
Eat a diversity of plant foods, nutrients, and avoid environmental toxins before getting pregnant.
During pregnancy continue to add nutrient rich plant foods and complement nutrients appropriately as added insurance for your baby.
Post-partum, breastfeed and continue to provide optimal nutrition including omegas, B vitamins, and trace minerals as that is what will be in your milk.
We hope you continue to ‘Heal with Each Meal’!TM
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Nuzzi G, Di Cicco ME, Peroni DG. Breastfeeding and allergic diseases: What’s new? Children. 2021;8(5):330. doi:10.3390/children8050330
Robertson RC, Manges AR, Finlay BB, Prendergast AJ. The human microbiome and child growth – first 1000 days and beyond. Trends in Microbiology. 2019;27(2):131-147. doi:10.1016/j.tim.2018.09.008
The First 1,000 Days: Nourishing Americas Future. Accessed May 13, 2023. https://thousanddays.org/wp-content/uploads/1000Days-NourishingAmericasFuture-Report-FINAL-WEBVERSION-SINGLES.pdf.
Walsh C, Lane JA, van Sinderen D, Hickey RM. Human milk oligosaccharides: Shaping the infant gut microbiota and supporting health. Journal of Functional Foods. 2020;72:104074. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2020.104074