So I’m sitting listening to Ben Greenfield’s interview in The Thyroid Sessions on “How Exercise Destroys Your Thyroid and What You Can Do About It!” and he starts talking about colostrum and breastfeeding. I kind of pause for a minute wondering what happened to the interview I was listening to about the connection between exercise and thyroid health. As a mom I was, of course, multitasking at the time but I was learning a lot from the interview so I know I hadn’t totally spaced out and somehow moved on to a different video.
As a breastfeeding advocate I know, as well as others do, about the many benefits that breastmilk has for a baby. Breastfed infants are better able to ward off infections, have decreased rates of diseases such as asthma, Type 2 Diabetes and obesity, and lower incidences of SIDS (Source: womenshealth.gov).
But, what the heck does breastmilk have to do with a healthier thyroid?
Greenfield mentions that many people with thyroid conditions suffer from leaky gut syndrome. According to webmd.com, leaky gut symptoms include “bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivities, and aches and pains. But it’s something of a medical mystery”, meaning physicians don’t yet know the exact causes and treatments. Greenfield also mentions that many people with leaky gut syndrome suffer from thyroid problems. And then goes on to say that leaky gut issues are most likely in those people who were not breastfed as infants or were given soy formula (as I learned in Dr. Sara Gottfried’s interview in The Thyroid Sessions a few days ago “A single serving of soy can slow down your thyroid by about 7 percent”).
When baby’s are born their intestines are immature and their intestinal lining is not fully closed, just like an adult with a leaky gut. The early breastmilk that a mother creates is known as colostrum and is thicker and more yellow than the breastmilk that follows. It is very nutrient dense, contains growth hormones, and is full of antibodies which specifically target baby’s immune system and really jump starts healthy development in newborns. Studies have shown that animals who receive colostrum, which contains high concentrations of growth factors, have guts that mature faster (Source: kellymom.com). It also spurs baby’s own immune system to start working.
Greenfield mentions using colostrum as a supplement to heal a leaky gut. I looked further in to this and there are actually supplements using colostrum from cows milks that adults can use and are believed to offer the same benefits as the colostrum that babies get as newborns (if you are curious if there are adults out there drinking breastmilk).
The connection between a healthy gut and breastfeeding is pretty well known. But it just goes to show you that the benefits of breastfeeding can last far in to adulthood and prevent or decrease health problems later in life by boosting and balancing everything right from the beginning. Even just by providing your baby with the early colostrum for a week or two has proven to provide extra benefits. Any length of time spent breastfeeding is beneficial for your baby! And who knows, maybe you can prevent the issues of leaky gut or a dysfunctional thyroid later in life.
The Thyroid Sessions is no longer available for free but you can purchase the entire conference with lifetime access to all interviews and the special bonus items (great recipes!) for just $79! It is totally worth it.
Some of my favorite interviews were:
- Managing Hypothyroidism and Motherhood
- The Thyroid’s Effect on Conception and Pregnancy
- Your Fertility Depends on Your Thyroid Gland. Support It!