As part of our observance of World Immunization Week this month, we are pleased to share a guest blog post from Robert E. Smith, taken from his newly published book Systems Thinking in Medicine and New Drug Discovery: Volume Two. Robert holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Missouri, and he has served as an Assistant Professor at Park University, USA, and as a science advisor for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for 16 years. This new book is the second part of a two-volume set that explores a ‘Systems Thinking’ approach to medicine, vaccination, and immunization. Part of this second volume discusses and analyses breast milk as the only true human superfood, and it is this that Robert focuses on in this post.
Even though the superfood cult may want us to believe that there are many foods that are good for everybody, the only genuine superfood is human breast milk. Breastfeeding is good for both the mother and her babies. It helps them form a strong, loving bond that can last a lifetime and help during difficult times later in life. Moreover, love and happiness are important for good health. Furthermore, mother’s milk is designed to meet the baby’s nutritional needs.
Nursing starts with the colostrum then becomes transitional milk and finally mature milk. Colostrum contains high concentrations of whey protein, but this gradually decreases from the second month to the seventh month, after which it levels off. Colostrum contains low concentrations of both lactose (milk sugar) and fat compared to mature milk. Lactose production is highest in the fourth to seventh month, after which it decreases, while the concentration of healthy, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fats gradually increases. Breast milk also contains small molecules, growth factors, hormones, lipids, carbohydrates and even healthy bacteria. This helps babies grow and develop a healthy set of bacteria in their gut. Breast milk protects babies from neonatal sepsis and subsequently promotes their growth and development.
It also supports the baby’s immature immune system, and helps it mature properly. Immunoglobulins target the infectious agents encountered by the mother during the perinatal period and then target the same infectious agents that are most likely to be encountered by the baby. Breast milk contains antibodies against many harmful bacteria (such as Vibrio cholerae, Campylobacter, Shigella, Giardia lamblia). The mother’s antibodies also protect against respiratory tract infections. At the same time, growth factors help babies and infants develop a healthy neuroendocrine immune system. The WHO (World Health Organization), the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have recommended breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life and including it in a mixed diet at least until the infant is two years old.
There is much more information about mother’s milk, nutrition and overall healthcare in my two-volume set Systems Thinking in Medicine and New Drug Discovery, published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Robert has also recently published an open access article in EC Microbiology on the importance of the human microbiome in maintaining our immune system, which can be read here. As part of our observation of World Immunization Week, we are offering a 50% discount off Robert’s new book and other selected titles via the discount code IMMUNE18. Please see here for more information and to see the other titles included in this offer.