family wellness

Microbiome

By on March 2, 2018

Untitled design-8This is my word of the day. Here is my obligatory disclaimer– I am writing as a mom, not as a medical professional, or a scientist, or any of that jazz. I am a mom of a kid I need to understand from a functional perspective. There are a ton of articles and books out there on the gut microbiome. The way I am understanding it; being born vaginally, with a full-term healthy pregnancy and breastfed is the ideal way to go. During a vaginal birth, the microbiome exposure begins to take place as soon as mom’s water breaks. The baby is exposed to its mother’s vaginal microbes and cellular structure. These microbes enter the babies ears, eyes, and mouth. The ones that enter the mouth, make their way down the digestive tract and begin to do their work. Passing through the vaginal canal, leads to more exposure– all of which are helpful to the babe. A newborn has a very weak/immature immune system, so these microbes enter the baby’s body and begin to colonize quickly to protect the immature system. The colonization works as a security system, teaching the immune system what to let in, and what is an invader. Fast forward to step #2. Skin-to-skin contact and breast milk add to this colonization. The sugars in mama’s milk feed and allow the biome to multiply and get stronger.

For someone born like Ezra, he missed out on a lot of crucial good gut microbes. Like I said in my previous post, he was born a month early at a low birth weight of 4lb. 13oz., he was born via C-section, so did not have this exposure for his immature immune system. He did begin breastfeeding quickly, however he was missing the digestive microbes that the milk would help multiply in his gut to strengthen his immature digestive system. Also, he had to have my milk fortified in the NICU which is standard for a preemie. On top of that, he was quickly infected with enterococcus and had several rounds of heavy antibiotics to kill the infection. So, any good bacteria he had colonizing were quickly being destroyed. And the other kicker was that I was preeclamptic– which means my liver and kidneys were not functioning appropriately, so he had exposure to the waste I could not release, and I had antibiotics since he was surgically born. Whammy, whammy.

Now, that he is a little over a year old and is dealing with a severely low hemoglobin level, my research is pointing it back to problems in the gut. I shared in my last post the way I’m starting us off on the healing track, and eventually will add in some supplements and other necessary items. Another step in our wellness is that we keep our home free of toxic chemicals. This is where I had a heads up, since I have been on that path since environmental toxins first crept into my awareness when my oldest son was born 12 years ago. I am a mom that likes to have a plan, and today my mind took me into the microbiome of the gut.

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diet

Lectin-Free

By on February 26, 2018

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The past week has been a stressful one for our family. Our little Ezra went in for his 1-year well check and did not quite meet all of his requirements. This little kid has given us a few scares in his short life. He began his life being born a little more than a month early; preeclamptic mama, emergency c-section, low-birth weight, could not maintain glucose, body temp, and was finally diagnosed with an enterococcal infection which required a 21-day NICU stay and a lot of antibiotics.

Otherwise, he seems to be doing quite well. He is still a breastfeeding champ, has started solid foods, is almooossttt walking– he is a super happy, active boy. The issues we are currently dealing with are low hemoglobin levels, eczema, and recurrent respiratory issues. The low hemoglobin alarmed a large crew of medical personnel and now we are being referred to a hematologist to take steps to diagnose and treat.

I have worked in natural health for several years. I began my wellness journey as a yoga instructor, have added in doula work, lactation counseling, and work teaching people how to lead a toxin-free life. My husband is on a similar career path, so jumping on medications and procedures is not us. I immediately started researching and putting the steps together to figure out what the cause of this issue could be. I have a lot of friends who are in this holistic world as well– so I called in my troops to help figure out the root of what this could be before we get thrown into the realm of specialists. The first place I began to look is our diet. Ezra has just begun his journey into the food world, I am still breastfeeding so I am his main source of major nutrients/immunity.

The information we have and have to sort through is daunting. USDA rules/regulations, pediatrician recommendations, standard American diet recommendations, etc. I am good with a plan, and from my research I am finding this kid is dealing with an autoimmune issue…. and so am I. Our gut health is extremely poor. The amount of antibiotics we were dealt last year has definitely done a number on both of us. Ezra has several factors going against him in the world of gut-health. Birth via c-section, antibiotics, NICU stay– although necessary steps, can really wreck havoc on the digestive system. I have been aware of mine for quite a few years and I have tried different elimination diets. The problem with many of the diets I’ve tried is that they are not sustainable over a long period of time. So, today begins our journey into another food plan. This time I am beginning with a lectin-free diet cleanse. 3 days of this, and then moving on to the lectin-free diet.

My blog is my accountability and journal of how this goes, as well as our struggles and successes over the next few weeks of this lifestyle change. So far, the biggest struggle is finding pastured chicken. I’ve been to Publix, Earth Fare, Trader Joe’s, a local farm market, and a health food store. Nada. As I am making this change, Ezra will be eating some of the veggies on the plan and breastfeeding at his request. I am the one cleansing, and will see how his body reacts to my diet change. Tomorrow, my book the Plant Paradox arrives– so I will delve a bit more into this philosophy.

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