August 27, 2018

(working title)

Maternal Nutrition and the Microbiome

Part two:

Mom has a gut microbiome that directly seeds her babies microbiome. This microbiome dictates human long term and short term health. Eating a diet loaded with fiber based fruits, legumes and vegetables will cause a highly diverse bacterial microbiome to exist and this existence is correlated with health.

Moving on: The standard American diet that many of us consume is not replete with healthy fibers and whole foods. It comes loaded with animal fats, refined

and processed carbohydrates and lots of processed oils. When a young women consumes a high fat refined diet, the outcome for her microbiome is detrimental with less biodiversity and likely increased inflammation. (Mann et. al. 2018)(Chu et. al. 2016) This loss of microbial biodiversity is believed to be part of the driving force in the rise of diseases of all types.

Looking at pregnancy specifically, what is becoming clear now is that alterations in the maternal microbiome can alter the events of pregnancy including the timing and normalcy of labor as well as inflammation and glucose metabolism. (Koren et. al. 2012) (Zhang et. al. 2015) Thus, increases in preterm births, birth complications are believed to related to the maternal diet and microbiome. Any alteration that can negatively affect a pregnancy and healthy birth is of profound interest to a mother.

Since we know that the maternal microbiome directly affects a newborn's microbiome and in turn her health long term, it seems imperative that we would look to mom and provide her with the tools to have a healthy microbiome. We know that mom's diet and exposure to chemicals/drugs are the primary drivers of her microbiome.

Further research has shown us that the infant's microbiota at any time in infancy is most similar to the mother's microbiota during the first trimester, which is a reflection of her diet and environmental influences prior to conception, despite the fact that her microbiome changes dramatically over the 10 months of pregnancy toward a reduced biodiversity (less species) and a metabolic storage/weight gain pattern. The reasons behind this shift are still unknown but thought to be related to energy storage in preparation for breastfeeding. (Koren et. al. 2012)

Pause number two:

Mom's microbiome naturally changes in between stages of her pregnancy in order to maximize the storage of energy towards the latter stages yet her babe's microbiome reflects her microbiome only in the first 3 months post conception. That is amazing. Her gut bacteria are working for her to hold onto calories to prepare to have and subsequently feed a baby, but this caloric storage pattern is not passed on to her baby unless it existed in the first trimester. The dynamic changes of the human body during pregnancy are nothing short or miraculous.

This change in microbes is very similar to the dynamic shifts that a mother's breast milk undergoes over the course of the first year to suit the babies growth and ever changing needs.

Looking further at this research brought up another interesting finding. The microbiota of the third trimester pregnant female is very similar to a patient with metabolic syndrome defined as a person with obesity, elevated blood sugar, high blood pressure and abnormal lipids. Clearly, these microbes have the ability to enhance energy extraction and storage for defined events like starvation, pregnancy and lactation. (Koren et. al. 2012)

I point this out because while these changes are highly beneficial for historical pregnancy or starvation, they are devastating for a child or adult that consumes a standard American high fat, refined carbohydrate diet. These energy extraction and storage systems evolved to perform in a normal whole foods world where food scarcity cycles existed and could harm a pregnancy. They did not evolve to deal with a persistent standard American diet that is highly processed and laden with fat and sugar.

Let us prove whether it is the bugs that do the work. A research group looked at the effects of transferring intestinal microbes from the first and third trimesters of pregnancy into germ free mice to assess the microbes metabolic effects in a non pregnant state. What they found is as follows: "The transfer of specific gut microbiota to otherwise healthy germ-free wildtype mice is sufficient to induce symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which, in addition to inflammation, include reduced insulin sensitivity and excess weight gain" (Koren et. al. 2012)

This study proves that the microbes are necessary for the change in metabolism to a storage energy profile. The earlier data showed us that the diet of humans drives the types and volume of resident bacteria in the gut prior to pregnancy. Therefore, if a mother consumes a highly processed, high fat and sugar diet prior to pregnancy, we would see a change in her microbiota towards a dysfunctional pattern. When you couple this with the pregnant bodies natural inclination to store energy as calories, we see the beginnings of a metabolic breakdown. The end result of which is increased pregnancy complications and the seeds for a newborn's microbiome to be dysfunctional out of the gate.

Let me try and summarize this very difficult topic:

Mothers have a gut microbiome that is dramatically affected by diet. If the diet is of high quality whole foods with lots of fiber, her bacterial makeup will likely be diverse and associated with healthy outcomes to pregnancy. The child's gut microbiome reflects that of mom during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Therefore, mom's diet has a profound effect of her baby as well.

Next: What non diet related events affect the maternal microbiome?

Dr. M

Advances in Neonatal Care Dunlop Article
Nature Sonnenburg Article
Nature Velasquez-Manoff Article
Frontiers in Microbiology DeFillipo Article
Nature Schnorr Article
Gut Microbes Mann Article
Genome Medicine Chu Article
Cell Koren Article
Medical Hypothesis Zhang Article
Frontiers in Microbiology Nuriel Ohayon Article
The Scientist Gren Article