Breastfeeding and gut health – is there a link?


I’m out in nature having a dog walk in Beckenham Place Park and it’s absolutely beautiful out here. If you are reading this inside, see if you can get out and get some exposure to natural light, even if it’s just a couple of minutes.

This week I want to talk to you more about the links between breastfeeding and gut health. And recently there has been a fascinating discovery made that there is something in a mother’s breast milk that the baby can’t actually tolerate.

Scientists were trying to figure out, “Now why is this, why would we put something into breast milk that babies can’t tolerate?” And then they realised that whilst the baby can’t tolerate it, there is something contained in that breast milk that is good for the baby’s microbiome – it’s there to feed, and nurture, and develop the baby’s microbiome.

And that’s one of the reasons why scientists prefer women to breastfeed, but obviously not everyone can do that, and that’s fine if you can’t. There are ways of expressing breast milk, it doesn’t have to be directly from the breast itself. But isn’t that a fascinating discovery, that actually nature is so clever, and there is something in that breast milk, that’s not only good for the baby and its systems as a whole, but specifically for its microbiome so it can cultivate a good diversity of bacteria as that baby is growing up.

It goes some way towards explaining more and more what we’re finding out about the gut microbiome and its importance for overall health, and how that can start from the very beginnings when we’re being breastfed or fed mother’s milk – a very interesting little fact for you.

Other ways you can look after your gut health would be eating lots of diversity of vegetables – all sorts of different colours and shapes and sizes, and mouth feels and textures. Prebiotics like onions, garlic, things like that, and Probiotics would be things like Kaffir, Kombucha, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, fermented foods, and that’s all good for the microbiome.

The last thing I would add is minimal stressors, like alcohol and caffeine and lack of sleep – minimise the stresses, it’s all good for the gut microbiome!

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Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit or email to register your interest in our services and connect with us on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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