Supporting your baby’s healthy immune system
While you do all you can to keep your baby healthy and protected from the outside, your baby’s immune system is working hard to protect her from the inside.
Your baby’s healthy immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect and keep her healthy. One of the many ways the immune system works is by maintaining natural protective barriers that help block unwelcome elements from entering the body. The first and most important natural protective barrier is your baby’s skin. However, another equally important protective barrier is found inside the body, along the lining of your baby’s digestive tract.
Your baby’s mouth is more than just a gateway for nutrients, and her digestive tract is more than just a route for nourishment. They’re also the primary and the largest interfaces between your baby and her environment. So it’s no wonder that to protect your baby, the digestive tract is where 70% of the body’s immune system is found.1 This is also where the immune cells in the digestive tract make key antibodies.
The role of beneficial cultures
Your baby’s digestive tract is home to many groups of bacteria, or cultures. Many are “good” or “friendly” bacteria, called “beneficial cultures.” A healthy balance of the cultures in your baby’s digestive tract helps develop the immune system. Beneficial cultures in the digestive tract can foster this healthy balance and support the natural protective barrier found there.
Before babies are born, their digestive tracts are sterile, and no cultures are present. However, soon after birth, cultures begin to develop. What your baby is fed during the first few weeks and months makes a big difference in the types of cultures that begin to develop in her digestive tract. Babies who are breastfed have an abundance—about 90%—of one particular type of beneficial culture in the digestive tract. Many experts believe that this beneficial culture may provide immune-system support. This naturally protective beneficial culture is one reason health experts believe breastfed babies are generally so healthy.
Beneficial cultures in formula
Some formulas now include beneficial cultures, like those found in breastmilk, to help support your baby’s healthy immune system. One way these beneficial cultures can help support your baby’s healthy immune system is by increasing levels of key antibodies. They also can help support the natural protective barrier in the digestive tract.
1Approximately 70% of the cells of the immune system are found in Baby’s digestive tract.