Breast protection for babies at risk of eczema or allergies

The fatty acids from breast milk are key to healthy baby development. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is well known for promoting a healthy brain, eye, and nervous system for example. But other fatty acids in breast milk may also help protect from allergies.

The fatty acids in breast milk may protect children from allergies
The fatty acids in breast milk may protect children from allergies

Could the sharp rise in allergic diseases like asthma, eczema, food allergies and hayfever be explained by a shift in the fatty acid balance in our diets? It’s possible that the widespread use of vegetable oils and the a low intake of omega-3 fatty acids (mostly from fish) are contributing to inflammation in the body.

Does breast milk affect eczema?
310 mothers and babies were examined according to their various lifestyles, (particularly noting the eating of organic diets and extended breast feeding) to see how the fatty acid composition of their breast milk compared with mums who ate a more conventional diet.

Mums with an ‘alternative’ lifestyles had somewhat higher concentrations of the omega-3 fatty acids in their breast milk (EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DPA (docosapentaenoic acid), and DHA). They were also higher in ruminant fatty acids (derived primarily from dairy fat), including the all-important immune-enhancing fatty acid, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).

By the time they were aged two, 31% of the babies had experienced eczema (almost half of these also had allergies). But (at one year) the risk of eczema and allergies was lowest among babies whose mothers’ milk was highest in omega-3. That risk was also seen to decrease as concentrations of ruminant fatty acids increased (regardless of the effect of the omega-3 fatty acids).

This suggests that ruminant fatty acids from dairy fat and organic dairy and, possibly, unpasteurized milk might have an effect on how much a baby can develop a strong immunity in early life.

How to protect your baby from eczema…

  • Breast-feed, if you can. For some women breast-feeding isn’t feasible, but it’s worth it for your baby’s health if you’re able to.
  • Eat more fatty fish. This is important during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Avoid high-mercury fish including albacore tuna and king mackerel.
  • Make it creamy. The latest study adds to a growing body of evidence of the inflammation-fighting potential of full-fat dairy products.

GoodnessDirect have a number of natural products for the treatment of eczema in babies including:
Green People Baby Salve Lavender

and Beaming Baby Organic Bubble Bath.

For children and adults try:
Comvita Medihoney Moisturising Cream,
Natraderm Shower Gel with Shea Butter,
Optima Allergenics Steroid Free Intensive Care Ointment

or HRI Clear Complexion.

Prebiotics and Probiotics could help tackle childrens’ asthma

By Kimberly Beauchamp, ND

A nutritional supplement combining pre- and probiotics may help prevent asthma in children with atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema.

In the first study of its kind, scientists have uncovered clues about how the health of the gut might affect immune system health to halt the progression of allergic conditions.

Itchy, wheezy, sneezy
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, inflammatory, itching skin disorder that often starts during infancy. Up to 40% of children affected by atopic dermatitis will go on to develop asthma later in childhood.

The prevalence of allergic diseases (including atopic dermatitis, asthma, and allergic rhinitis) has increased over the past several decades. It’s been suggested that changes in the intestinal flora—that is, the “good” bugs that reside on your insides—could be responsible for the observed jump in these conditions.

It starts in the gut
Probiotics like acidophilus are living microorganisms with beneficial effects in the gut and throughout the body. They can help

  • boost immune function,
  • increase resistance to infection,
  • inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria,
  • and promote healthy digestion.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients, such as fructooligosaccharides, that provide fuel for probiotics to thrive on. Since pre- and probiotics work synergistically, together they are referred to as synbiotics.

Researchers from the Netherlands investigated the effect of a formula supplemented with synbiotics on 90 infants with atopic dermatitis. The aim of the study was to see if synbiotics could help prevent children with atopic dermatitis from developing asthma-like symptoms and the need for asthma medications.

  • For 12 weeks, the babies were either given a hydrolyzed whey formula with the probiotic Bifidobacterium brevis and the prebiotics GOS (galactooligosaccharides) and FOS (fructooligosaccharides), or a placebo formula without the synbiotics.
  • They underwent blood test for allergies, including those to cats, dogs, and dust mites at the beginning of the study and after one year.
  • Parents kept tabs on their children’s respiratory symptoms and reported them to the investigators.

Of the 75 children who completed the study, children in the synbiotic group were 20% less likely to have frequent wheezing and 28% less likely to have wheezing and/or noisy breathing during the follow up period than were children in the placebo group. Babies who received the synbiotic-enriched formula were also much less likely to have to start taking asthma medications. Over the course of the study, 15% of children in the placebo group developed an allergy to cats, whereas none of the children in the synbiotic group did.

“These results suggest that this synbiotic mixture prevents asthma-like symptoms,” said lead author of the study, Leontien B. van der Aa of Emma Children’s Hospital in Amsterdam. “The infants that were included in our study will be followed up to age five to six, when they are old enough to determine whether this synbiotic mixture also prevents the development of asthma.”

Goat’s milk. A healthier pint?

When I was young myself, my mum suggested I change my milk to goats milk to help with asthma and eczema. This wasn’t a scientific experiment, so I can’t say categorically, but I think it helped.

Delamere Dairy produce a goat’s milk range; award winning goat’s milk cheeses; yoghurt and butter which are stocked by GoodnessDirect. Goat’s milk is reputedly very good in cosmetics and cooking but, of course, many people use it if they are wanting to avoid casein or cannot digest lactose. Although goat’s milk does contain lactose it has been seen to be easier to digest than that present in cows milk and so is acceptable to some who would otherwise avoid it. Goat’s milk is also high in calcium, low in cholesterol, and in general much easier to digest than cow’s milk, so perhaps it’s not surprising that goat’s milk is more widely used around the world than cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is renowned for creating mucus, but not so goat’s milk. So if you are a catarrh sufferer try it out.

Check out the Delamere links for more info on all things goatish.

Autumn care

Autumn is my favourite season. Red leaves to kick about, eerie misty mornings, trees laden with apples, walking out in the fine crisp air, warm fires – it’s not difficult to see why.

It’s a great time for warming foods like apple crumble and pumpkin pie. And there’s a lot of goodness in the seasonal foods. Apples keep you full and lower your cholesterol. Beetroot helps reduce blood pressure, and it’s full of folate (crucial for cell growth), as are brussels sprouts and parsnips. Brussels have Omega 3 and lots of vitamin C and parsnips bring potassium and fibre (good for the heart). Cranberries also come packed with vitamin C and are a renowned antioxidant. Chestnuts are low fat, high in vitamin C and folate. And as for the infamous pumpkins, they do have lots of beta-carotine (vitamin A) which is thought to boost the immune system.

Immunity is certainly needed when autumn comes on. My asthma gets worse at this time of year, and my friend says her dad’s psoriasis is always more difficult in autumn too. What’s the reason?

In autumn the air dries out and dust and spores are blown about, I know this affects asthma and it seems the dry air affects psoriasis too. Both the skin and lungs are affected by dryness, so drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated (ginger tea is supposed to be very healing). Other illnesses like arthritis and eczema, not to mention the common cold and swine flu will get worse too.

Whatever ailment you live with the pestilent seasons are always more likely to cause trouble. But all those seasonal foods are going to be a great start in the fight against autumnal change, and make sure you still exercise and sleep well too – a brisk walk in the autumn air is great for both. Gain some contingency by investing in the health benefits of cider vinegar and echinacea; and selinium, vitamin C supplements, multivitamins or other immunity boosters, no doubt, will be useful too.

Some people might dread autumn as a sign that everything is dying, but for others it is a clarion call to the fight for life. Trees draw back in their sap and squirrels horde for the winter months – it’s a final chance to witness nature in all its glory before we too must wait through winter for new things to come. Everything is thrilling but the inner inclination is to withdraw and be close to those you love.

However you come through this autumn, make sure you wrap up warm, keep well and enjoy yourself!

Pine Tree Bark Pill Relieves Asthmatics

Roger Dobson of the Daily Mail told us of the reports appearing in a medical journal that Pine Bark extract from a French tree, Pycnogenol, can significantly reduce asthma symptoms.

The article said that some patients may be symptom-free after 3 months of taking the natural supplement. One 30 year-old man, who began taking them twice a day 14 months ago, has not needed his inhaler for over a year. He also used to spend £7 a week on hay fever medication & no longer needs this. In the medical journal “Asthma”, a team of specialists say increasing numbers of asthma patients have told doctors of their improvement after taking Pycnogenol.

Researchers tested this on 80 patients with mild to moderate asthma. The pine bark is thought to be anti-inflammatory & source of antioxidants. Pycnogenol was found to reduce leukotrienes, chemicals involved in inflammation & tightening of the bronchi. (I don’t expect inhaler manufacturers will be pleased!)

Roger Dobson © Taken from a Daily Mail article 01.06.04

Sea Salt v Table Salt

I’ve heard that too much salt can agitate asthma. One of my friends has recently died and he was a chronic asthmatic, and so this got my interest and I’ve been investigating a little.

What I’ve found is that in the recent study (see study) 24 patients with asthma and exercised-induced asthma were divided into two groups: Some followed a low-salt diet of some 1,500 mg. (a level teaspoon – ish) of salt, while others were put on a high-salt diet of nearly 10,000 mg. (3.5 heaped teaspoon fulls – the amount many of us eat every day).

After 2 weeks, results showed:
High-salt dieters demonstrated a dramatic decline in lung function after exercise; the standard measure for lung functioning — forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) — taken 20 minutes after high-salt dieters exercised dropped by 27.4 percent, compared with a 7.9 percent decline experienced by the low-salt group.

Those on the high-salt diet were also found to have more airway cells (another indicator of asthma) and pro-inflammatory mediators that spur airway constriction.
In light of these findings, researchers believe that adjusting one’s diet has the potential to adjust a disease state.

Now to me, that is reason to take action if I hadn’t already done so after the slug ads. And so much can be achieved in just 2 weeks.

But is salt all bad?

Generally we eat too much salt, mainly because we add it to our food, especially processed foods. If we eat a generally “healthy diet” which majors on home prepared foods we should get all the sodium we need from those foods. Around 1,500mg is recommended.

Then there is the type of salt we use?
There are some major differences between the standard, refined, table salt and sea salt.

Conventional table salt contains approximately 97.5 percent sodium chloride and 2.5 percent chemicals, such as moisture absorbents, and iodine.

Unrefined sea salts contain approximately 84 percent sodium chloride and 16 percent additional minerals. Some of these minerals, such as magnesium, can actually be helpful in cases of asthma.

Conventional salt is dried at over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit — this amount of heat changes the chemical structure of the salt, plus it is thought that conventional processing adds harmful additives and chemicals to salt, Potassium-Iodide (added to the salt to avoid Iodine deficiency disease of thyroid gland), Sugar (added to stabilize Iodine and as anti-caking chemical), Aluminum silicate.

My conclusion is, if you must add salt then add unrefined sea salt.