By NICHOLAS WADE
- We've always known that mother's should breast feed their newborn babies and infants until at least 6-12 months of age for building healthy immune system and forming a close bond between mother and child.
They have now discovered that the milk itself has particular properties related to the infant's guts variety of bacteria development.
University of California at Davis researchers — Bruce German, Carlito Lebrilla and David Mills discovered a particular strain of bacterium, a subspecies of Bifidobacterium longum, possesses a set of genes that enable it to thrive on an indigestible component of human mother's milk.
This subspecies of genes are commonly found in the feces of breast-fed infants. It coats the lining of the infant’s intestine, protecting it from noxious bacteria.
What's most peculiar is that this subspecies is not found in adults.
The indigestible substance that favors the bifido bacterium is a slew of complex sugars derived from lactose, the principal component of milk. The complex sugars consist of a lactose molecule on to which chains of other sugar units have been added. The human genome does not contain the necessary genes to break down the complex sugars, but the bifido subspecies does, the researchers say in a review of their progress in today’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
- What I find most interesting is the milk products such as kefir and yogurt and even soymilk marketed today, and the recommendations to ingest lacto bifido bacterium to assist indigestion.
Breaking Down Milk Sugars
- The researchers have broken down the components and point directly to the sugars within the milk, rather than the complex structures and synergy of all the milk components. Until scientists find some particular properties or recognize some action, they feel there is "no biological significance." This reminds me of what they think of the appendix, that it is an ancient remnant of an organ that once upon a time had a purpose.
- This type of thinking bewilders me. Just because I haven't figured something out or found a reason for something does not mean it has NO reason or purpose for being. Can you imagine that the complex sugars composed 21 percent of the milk, yet would have no specific function? They have discovered the milk sugars promote growth of the bifido strain and act as decoys for noxious bacteria that might attack the infant’s intestines.
The sugars are very similar to those found on the surface of human cells, and are constructed in the breast by the same enzymes. Many toxic bacteria and viruses bind to human cells by docking with the surface sugars. But they will bind to the complex sugars in milk instead. “We think mothers have evolved to let this stuff flush through the infant,” Dr. Mills said.
A Non-Homeopathic View of Birth
Dr. German sees milk as “an astonishing product of evolution,” one which has been vigorously shaped by natural selection because it is so critical to the survival of both mother and child. “Everything in milk costs the mother — she is literally dissolving her own tissues to make it,” he said. From the infant’s perspective, it is born into a world full of hostile microbes, with an untrained immune system and lacking the caustic stomach acid which in adults kills most bacteria. Any element in milk that protects the infant will be heavily favored by natural selection.
How Can We Explain This Fact?
- In what way does this make sense that milk has components that are not digested in the traditional way? Could it be that they do not understand the true mechanism and function because they are thinking in an Allopathic, oppositional mind-set?
“We were astonished that milk had so much material that the infant couldn’t digest,” Dr. German said. “Finding that it selectively stimulates the growth of specific bacteria, which are in turn protective of the infant, let us see the genius of the strategy — mothers are recruiting another life-form to baby-sit their baby.”
Dr. German and his colleagues are trying to “deconstruct” milk, on the theory that the fluid has been shaped by 200 million years of mammalian evolution and holds a wealth of information about how best to feed and defend the human body. Though milk itself is designed for infants, its lessons may apply to adults.
What Happens to the C-Section Infants of Modern Society? Are they missing an important aspect of development and evolution?
The complex sugars, for instance, are evidently a way of influencing the gut microflora, so they might in principle be used to help premature babies, or those born by caesarean, who do not immediately acquire the bifido strain. It has long been thought there was no source of the sugars other than human milk, but they have recently been detected in whey, a waste by-product of cheesemaking. The three researchers plan to test the complex sugars for benefit in premature infants and in the elderly.
Finding the Components As 'Attack' rather than 'Cooperation' Gives Pause to Think
The proteins in milk also have special roles. One, called Alpha-lactalbumin, can attack tumor cells and those infected by viruses by restoring their lost ability to commit cell suicide. The protein, which accumulates when an infant is weaned, is also the signal for the breast to remodel itself back to normal state.
Ending on a Note of Spirit. Thanks to God
Such findings have made the three researchers keenly aware that every component of milk probably has a special role. “It’s all there for a purpose, though we’re still figuring out what that purpose is,” Dr. Mills said. “So for God’s sake, please breast-feed.”