ANTIBIOTICS – used so much more now with our children. Unfortunately, antibiotics not only kill the bacteria which is causing the infection, they also destroy a lot of the bacteria which live in our digestive tract (gut)….. the ‘good bugs’ . These good bugs help to provide us with ongoing immunity and the correct balance also helps to maintain a healthy and intact gut lining. If the gut lining is damaged it becomes susceptible to leakage. When leakage occurs, molecules of food which would not normally enter into the bloodstream do so and this sets off a reaction in the immune system which leads to the symptoms of intolerances.
Interestingly, recent research has indicated that if a mother takes antibiotics whilst pregnant, the gut flora of a baby can be adversely affected whist it is still in the womb. Generally women who have a caesarean section are given antibiotics to help prevent postpartum complications. Babies also born by caesarean are not exposed to the mother’s vaginal flora during delivery and this can disrupt the development of the baby’s healthy gut flora. Antibiotics as well as caesarean sections are necessary at times so it is important to be aware of the affect they have on our childrens’ bodies.
DIET – Our diets have changed rapidly over the last few decades with a shift from wholefoods to more processed foods. Processed foods are usually highly refined and have synthesised compounds as well as preservatives. These compounds and preservatives can be seen by our immune systems as foreign, leading to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. As I have mentioned before, this causes leaky gut and all of its associated problems. The other issue with processed foods is the potential lack of nutritional value which then deprives the immune system of the nutrients it needs to function properly.
HYGIENE HYPOTHESIS – This is simply excessive cleanliness. Not allowing kids to play in the dirt or get a bit grubby in the back yard deprives them of exposure to certain micro-organisms and bacteria which would help with the normal development of the immune system. So the immune system then over reacts to foods because it does not recognise them as being ‘normal’.