Written by Christopher Kelly
Oct. 6, 2016
Julia: Hello and welcome to the Paleo Baby Podcast. I am Julia Kelly and today I am joined by Megan Sanctuary. Megan is a PhD candidate at UC Davis. And she is a member of… I love the name of this, the MILK Group that’s been decoding mother’s milk for clues to lasting health for the past decades. She’s currently using this basic science information to develop effective clinical interventions. That is the most… vague introduction that I could possibly give to the incredible work that you’re doing. Welcome Megan, thanks for being with me.
Megan: Well thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here today.
Julia: So tell people, what is the MILK Group? What are you guys doing up there at Davis, with milk? What kind of milk are you using?
Megan: So it’s a vague introduction for a reason because the work that we’re doing at UC Davis is so broad. We’re looking at milk, both the human milk and other species milk although our focus is mainly on human milk and bromine milk at the moment from a lot of different perspective. We have a lot of different scientists with a lot of different backgrounds all interested in the components of milk and really how they contribute not only the instant health but how components can be potentially utilize therapeutics but also the population as well.
So yeah, with everyone participating from analytical chemist to our dissecting milks apart and trying to really narrow down the structural components of all of the molecules that are pregnant milk to microbiologist to our interest in the microbial content of milk and beyond that, how the components of milk implants the micro-bio cells of both the inter-gradual tracks as well as the general population consuming dairy products to gastro-geologists who are interested in how milk components affect the functioning of the guts, the biologists interested in how milk components shape the development of the immune system.
And we even collaborate with anthropologist who are interested in more on some of the social aspects of milk as well as comparisons of milk between prime ape species and some of the mammalian species who will give us clues in the development of the younger virus on mammalian species.
So really it’s a very broad field. We have a lot of people looking at some of the vast different directions and then now even bringing in information who are interested in the therapeutic potentials of different types of milk in the milk-components.
So really we’re taking a very deeper look into this and what we found is just some unbelievable things that we never knew about milk and how dynamic it is. So it’s a really exciting time to be in this field. And I’m very excited to be just a small part of that.
Julia: Yeah, it sounds incredible. And we talked briefly before we started recording about the work that I did in my work program. It sounds a little bit similar but we are really focused on a dairy-science perspective so we are only looking to go by milk. And also looking at the course of milk so I did a little work with Mary’s milk as well.
But we’ve just been taking some small type of plenary approach and looking at it because I think the whole things of what you just said it that only one substance. But on this one substance, we could have all of these inter-disciplinary views and all of these different pathways of how they important. And I think that that just kind of ark in to the importance of this substance and I think of all life.
So I think, one of them may take away to just be WOW, milk is basically incredible. I really loved… when I read through some of the work that you guys are doing and one things that popped out of me was this idea of a milk-oriented micro biota. But before we jump into that specifically, can you just briefly define in the terms of your work and in general, for people, what does a micro biota stuff really mean?
Julia: Right, so micro biota… there’s lots of different micro-biota. And they can have lots of different issues obviously. Today we’re going to focus at the gut micro biota. But you also have micro biota up your skin, even micro biota of your lung of any surface of your body that’s exposed to the outside environment can have a micro biota.
And it’s generally in ecosystem. So lots of different organisms that are all dependent on each other in even a food network and they can interact with each other and within a host and it includes a lot of different micro-organisms. People generally talk about the bacteria that are in the gut and in the skin.
And it will also include other microorganisms such as viruses, fungus and in any really single-celled organism. So micro-biota is a broad term for any sort of… micro beetle ecosystem and today we’re mostly focusing on all those microorganisms that are in the gut and interacts with the host in that location.
Julia: Okay, and when we talked about the milk-oriented micro-biota, are we talking about the interaction of milk and the gut or the interaction of milk and the infant or it does that user… like a different level of specifics they needed there.
Megan: Alright so we’re talking about how the milk component implements the commendation mainly of the internal gas track. Obviously, that can also be applied to anyone consuming milk products but when we’re talking about the human milk macrobiotics then we’re really focusing on the breastfed infants.
Julia: Interesting. Okay. So where does this kind of take root? What are you really hoping to get out of this more than anything? I mean like when you say that you’re turning your attention to like, use the basic science to develop like clinical interventions for example. Where do we see this coming out of the lab and into the real life?
You know, the work that you’re doing what parts of it do you think, are probably the most pressing to get out of the lab, with which ones do you see, it’s really affecting kind of currently. Or you want to help people sooner rather than later.
Megan: Right so, as everyone probably knows especially your listeners that the micro biota has now been implicated in multiple aspects of how anything from metabolic syndrome to diabetes, to obesity, to hampers… it really plays a huge role in our general well-being and overall health.
And so we need to learn more about the micro biota in general, how the micro biota functions, how different species within the micro biota interacts with each other and with a host. And more specifically we need to understand critical periods of development.
So now, there’s this idea of the developmental origins of helping with these and really understanding that there’s critical period and with such a commendation of the gut, we can really influence how the gut is colonized and that can set an individual up for a lifetime of health or predispose them to be in the future.
So we really need to focus on one- the development of the micro biota for early colonization of the gut and then how we can really affectively modulate the micro biota later in life. And it seems that that’s actually harder to do than we think. So we see commercials now for probiotic health and stuffs that you can take orally and it seems to partially improve certain things like that, suggestive functions. But you’re not really changing the micro-biota very much when you take probiotics.
So generally, those bacteria aren’t able to colonize. They are beneficial as they transcend, as they pass through in tracks they take, produce special byproducts and improve gut health clinically, but they don’t colonize. They don’t stick around. And so we really need to figure out how to really modulate the micro biota and really, what’s the most important way to modulate the micro biota.
So currently we’re trying to figure out which species, which taxa seemed to be beneficial and are important for health. But we can get really bogged down in the details of that because there are hundreds of different species that are probably there.
No 2 people have the same species. And so trying to describe an optimum so to really now, we’re trying to focus on the functional aspects of the micro biota so people don’t have the same taxa or type of bacteria in their gut, but they generally have the same functions of bacteria.
So if we can figure out ways to functionally profile the micro biota people and if they figure out what functions of micro biota they might be lacking, then they can sort of start to personalize treatments and where human milk comes at is truly, milk does have the ability to modulate the micro biota especially in early life, there’s a lot of different factors in there that play many different roles.
Some factors are prebiotics needed up there, food for bacteria so there are sugar that are present in milk that are only metabolized by bacteria and not by the infant. There’s also a lot of immune factors in there that can not only prevent commendation of pathogenic bacteria but actually promote colonization of special bacteria.
So we can kind of used milk as a tool to kind of explore the micro-biota and how it modulates the bacterium. We kind of assume however, that milk is modulating the micro-biota so that it could be more beneficial composition so to speak. So we can kind of use milk not only to investigate normal development of the micro-biota but also to generate potential therapeutics for people who might have problems with the micro-biota also.
So really build therapeutics for numerous diseases really anything that explains to the micro-biota and so, we’re just starting to apply that now for certain populations. So…
Megan: There’s a lot of potential there.
Julia: What are the main components of the milk that you’re focused on in terms of working directly or are you in modulating the bacteria? Is it specifically the oil and sack rice that I read about in some of your work? Is that what you’re primarily focused on?
Megan: Primarily… yeah. Primarily a lot of the factor as well as the immunity factor during that time is what we’re interested in because I am interested in not only the micro-biota but how the micro-biota interacts with the host and a lot of that communication is stirring the immune system.
So I’m interested in the immunity component and there’s a lot of them in glabulin, lactus-serum is a major milk protein that is responsible for shaping the micro-biota. It has bacteria side activity so it can kill potential pathogens but is also then shown to actually modulate the immune system. So it can be a transaction factor for starting side and really, it is interesting how dual roles a lot of this components can take.
They’re not only serve as prebiotics but have other biolytic functions also, the kind of exploring the different roles of this components just adds another layer of debt to the research.
And the [0:11:04] [inaudible] are really interesting just because they’re so complex and we’ve just started to really figure out what their structures are and then figuring out how the micro-biota sort of interact with those structures because there’s difference.
Lozenges between sugars that can be broken down by certain bacteria and so you can potentially screen bacteria to see if they are able to produce enzymes that might be able to break down those sugars so there’s the pole interplay that we can kind of explore and so yes, my focus has been on the illegal sack rice and the immune factors in there and therapeutic potentials.
Julia: I think one of the biggest and most interesting thing is that I took from the was that… what you guys found and what the research has showing is that these note components it’s not you’re acting milk component to conferring benefit to direct nutritional support to the infant. And it’s actually providing nutritional support to the beneficial bacteria in the gut or even providing information to the gut, to what to lay down and what to avoid.
All of that, also the immune factors as well. And that to me since, is like… some things that bother me when I think about it that way because then it seems like that system where it’s almost just a locking key so it seems like this system, this milk system because I don’t think it. It’s not just a substance. It’s a system… is very specific to the micro biotic to the gut to the need of its intended recipient right? So…
Megan: Exactly… yeah, we like to say that. Mom is in natural breastfeeding to feed one child. She’s actually breastfeeding to feed one trillion. So it’s also the bacteria in the gut that she’s actually evolved this whole system to feed them. And you’re right it is a very lacking of cheese so to speak, sort of mechanism where all of these things interacting with each other and the part in the gut is another big thing.
So the micro-biota can influence most of the gut but certain factors and milk can actually directly influence the development of that gastro-intestinal chart that are shown in some animal studies that animals are officially weird on formulas. Whatever the formulas made of, but they’re not drinking known mother’s milk and they basically have to lay development of their gastro-intestinal chart.
And I’m of the mindset that the butt is sort of the root of help right? Because you intake all of your food, absorb all of your nutrients to the gut. Obviously the micro-biotic house in your gut 70% of your immune system is housed in the gut, but if something is going wrong with the gut, then you are not healthy overall.
And so really the fact that milk has such an influence on the development of the gut at such an early age, that could really predispose you to either have health of the gut and overall body systems are your life. Or you could always be struggling with different problems in your gut that can now plow in other systems in your body especially this new idea of reaching gut which gotten a lot of press lately.
Now we’re learning more about the interactions between the micro-biota and the gut barrier and the immune system. So that can apply a role and really every systems of your body…
Julia: Yeah, the more we know, the less we know.
Megan: Yes, exactly.
Julia: Yeah, I just think I get asked all the time. I think one of the most questions I get asked is… so and so for whatever reason can’t breastfeed. And of course, I always try to address, they can’t breastfeed peace and help them find their way back to breastfeeding.
But I’ve also received questions for people who are adopting child. They’re adopting infants. And they are really at a wasp for the best substitute for breast milk. And recently, I’ve just been really vocal about pushing people to find a milk-bank or donor if they can. Because I feel like, you know, I love to hear your insight onto this. But there is no substitute.
Megan: It’s true.
Julia: I mean, we’d be truly asking these specifically about what’s the best possible start for this baby if they can’t have direct breast milk from their mother. Then would the next possible best solution would be breast milk from another mother?
Megan: Right. Yeah so that’s a very important question. Because it is a big problem especially with the lack of support, generally from breast feeding because a lot of mom today didn’t really learn to breastfeed from their mother like we used to do. That was a much more passed on to generation to generation and I feel like it’s sort of gotten lost now.
And the fact that we don’t have a lot of lactation consults and we don’t have nurses and doctors in delivery units who know how to really promote breastfeeding.
And so it is a challenge and a lot of times, families have a hard time on being supportive because it can be burdensome to breastfeed especially after 6 months. It might be easier to mix up a bottle. And of course, there are women who just can’t produce for whatever reason and I think that needs to be a really big area where you need to figure out exactly why mom can’t produce.
But in regards to substitutes like we said, there really isn’t anything that can really fully substitute for breast milk. So I would say that obviously, I think donor milk is probably the next best step. It’s absolutely not going to be personalized for the baby but it’s a breast milk from a mom.
And that’s actually an interesting area for research too, the fact that an immune component there in mother’s milk are specific for the pathogens and her environment and sort of a direct immune transfer between the mom and the baby that the other moms might not have those appropriate factors and that just sort of tip of the iceberg but I would say that’s probably the next best step, just because it will still have all the good components and dynamics and change about lactation.
So that’s one important thing to consider. It is that milk change forever that lactation so you are going to use donor milk, you should try at least, donor milk that is matched to the age of your baby. So because it changes you know, transition milk which is going to be a little bit higher in immunity factors and lactose in the first couple of days after birth. And then it transitions to mature milk and even over the first few year, it continues to change to try to match the age of the baby with the age of lactation is important.
And another factor to consider is pasteurization because all donor milk now has to be pasteurized because there are viruses and bacteria that are transferred in the milk and though can be pathogenic, sentimental virus are being transferred via breast milk I believe HIV as well.
So they may do not only be pasteurized but screened for a lot of these things and we don’t really know overall, the effect of pasteurization on milk. I have seen some studies that show reduced level of vitamins but really didn’t studied about the milk.
But again, that’s going to be your best bet. After that, I would say there are some organizations that promote different homemade milk and are often made from mammalian milk, like raw mammalian milk. Sometimes both vines but I’ve seen a lot more goat milk and things like that. They tend to be less allergenic although I don’t really know if it’s due to sort of, inherit properties of the proteins in those milk.
Or whether it’s the heat treatment. I have some research going on that actually the heat treatment going on can probably be more allergenic. So using raw milks from other species and then supplementing them with different things because just the milk itself usually is more dilute from other species and you have to actually add more nutritional component.
So I believe the western age price donation has on their website some of these formulas for milk. And that I would think it would be a better alternative to buy a store box formula. Because really, those are just so highly processed. And the facts aren’t right, the sugars aren’t right, there’s no fiber in formula generally.
I mean, you might be able to buy formulas now that have different fibers added but there’s nowhere complex as a fiber that are human milk to actively promote the growth, the bacteria as well as the human milk does. So it can cause gassiness and an aching stomach maybe. And just lacking all the immune components and it’s really high in lactose and they use generally really long chain poly-concentrated plant oils which are completely different from the composition in the milk that in fact, aren’t present in the human milk are really hard for babies to digest and absorb. So it does cause digestion from some of those.
So I would definitely say that homemade formulas are going to be more a better option especially if you don’t have the access to donor milk things. I know they’re not very extravagant.
Julia: They’re so frustrating.
Megan: Around the country depending on where you live. It might be hard to find.
Julia: I think you hit the nail in the head and that’s exactly the recommendation that I always make in that order. And just, really, there is no replacement and it’s so frustrating because even though a lot of women end up feeling attacked or whatever they need because… your word, I am saying, there’s no replacement.
But that’s not what it is. And I fully understand that there’s lack of lactation support, there’s lack of lactation education. There’s also lots of extraneous circumstances in our modern world that demand that people can’t breastfeed.
And so I understand all that. I think it’s important that we never lose sight of the importance of breast milk because until people kind of come up and say “there is no replacement, there is no 2nd best”, we have to find ways to get all babies the breast milk that they deserve.
Then there’s never going to be this kind of called to action to really get the support that’s needed. Get the resources that are needed to promote breastfeeding for all the babies. I think that’s important to have that conversation especially with someone like yourself.
You know that composition, you know what it looks like and you can breakdown something in say “If you’re asking me, this equates”. But it doesn’t. It doesn’t hold this. And I think that’s important to point out.
Megan: Yeah and too often, it’s just really easy. “Oh you can’t breastfeed or you can take too much time out here for the formula like it’s stuck” sort of a very routine-like. “Oh you can’t breastfeed? Formula!” And that is that it might be necessary to some people, but I think if we increased awareness about how important breastfeeding is for a lifetime health, and you might not even necessarily see those outcomes until later on in the baby’s life.
Just getting the knowledge out there is going to be important so that someone just can say to you “Oh, just use formula. It’s not that big of a deal”. I mean, I should be the one to guilt mothers who really are struggling and having a hard time for every option and just can’t do it. But I think too often, mom too easily neglect that decision about having all the information.
Julia: Yeah, know it’s important that they just know there’s other options out there. On the flip side of that, I also… I think it’s kind of ironic that you know, my background is in dairy science. I am constantly telling people to get off dairy.
Julia: What about, is it a good idea to supplement… and I’m not talking specifically with instance, but I am referring to kids and to adults as well, is it a good idea that we’re supplementing or consuming the milk of other animals?
Megan: Right. And I’ve actually gone back in that a lot personally. Because before I started this research, I actually was very free for a while. And that really helped a lot of digestion problems I was having. And so I was dairy-free for probably 3 years before I started trying to reintroduce it just because… well mainly because I’m working in the field and I’ve learned of all these benefits of dairy products.
And I think there’s 2 different aspects to that. One is that certain people seems to be more sensitive to dairy than other people. So I think it really depends on the individual and how the individual responds to dairy and it could have something to do with ancestral history whether for how long your ancestors have been consuming dairy so that’s one thing.
And then the other thing, processing. So you can buy organic whole-fat dairy at the store but the processing of that is just so much. And we don’t really know what the consequences of that are. Like I said before, there’s evidence to just that even mild processing of dairy products, because it’s such a fragile fluid. There’s so many micro-structures in there. Like the milk-fat granule. It’s such a very delicate structure of fats and protein. And it’s just deliberate nutrition.
So eloquently and when we disrupt that, we don’t know what the effects of that are. So even homogenizing could potentially do. So mixing all the components could be detrimental and might cause problems with your ability to properly digest, have immunity reaction to those components.
So I think if people are going to try to consume dairy for the beneficial properties, you really want to go with raw dairy, organic from a farm you’ve gone to, seeing the cows out in the fields eating the grass and they don’t process it at all. Eat the fat along with it because you need all the components together.
And if you try and it dairy that way, and you’re still having problems with it, then you might just be an individual that doesn’t respond well. So I definitely think it’s not an individual basis. And you really have to take the source and processing of those dairy. Those will recount also. I tend to only be able to eat fermented dairy.
So I got… me and my husband have a hard chair. And we get milk directly from the farm and a tall-grass fed whole fat. And I still have to ferment it. So I drink heifer. I can’t just drink regular milk. And I don’t even exactly know why that is. If it might be the sugar in there that I’m no longer tolerant to, then say I’m a cab wise. That could maybe be the problem.
So yeah, I think it’s a very individual prescription and you just kind of have to do self-experimentation. Try different types of dairy, see how it makes you feel. Be very observant of fully destining. Skin is actually a very good reflection of your gut function. So if you eat something and cause you to break out, have a rash, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it of course that cause is that, the comfort. Computation, diarrhea, anything that’s not transcend.
So sometimes when you introduce those food, we haven’t been eating them for a while, then you can get some microbial activities because it’s not used to having milk components and it doesn’t go away. Then you might want to consider removing it again. So yeah, I think a very individual basis for dairy.
Julia: What about the hormonal and the immune components, of milk though? I mean I guess, I’m just wondering, are we going to find out in a 15, 20 years that there’s nobody going to be consuming the milk of animals because we’ve found out that it has these more profound effects on our immune system and that kind of back to back locking key mechanism of… it’s really not just that similar. They’re specific for such reason that our mother’s make milk and cows make milk for their young and whenever I look it, it’s also formula implications as well.
So whenever I look at me and they’ve got, you know, and kind of respiratory issues you know, they wake up looking injective and they’ve got acne and I get them off dairy. And all of a sudden they realize that it had a bigger effect on them and the night.
They even contract it to their cycles and being more greatly affected by dairy at different types of the month. So I guess I’m just concerned, or you had to say that least, about all the immune factors in other mammals. So and so…
Megan: Yes that’s a very good point and a good question. And I definitely think something that needs research. All of this stuff really. We’re kind of working on dairy source data to begin with. And that is true. I mean it is insolent. There’s other types of hormones that are in milk. And that could definitely be causing the trouble of our own. And different systems.
And I believe there was one hypothesis. I don’t know too much about it but. Actually, that mountain immune response to bromine influence that’s in cow milk might cause the auto-immune reaction in response to type of diabetes. And I don’t know how far that got. I know it was in animal research for a while. I haven’t spelled that lately. So I’m not sure if that’s been proven further.
But that’s definitely a consideration. I mean we definitely see it all. Probably drinking other animal’s milk until we started really living more intimately with animals which doesn’t really know agriculture and hasn’t been that long really.
But we’ve been able to consume the milk of other species. And there’s a reason that are lactate genes, some of us shuts down after infancy because we’re not supposed to be consuming milk anymore. So that definitely is a concern. And it definitely needs more research into that, because sometimes you can drink milk and not have an obvious reaction to it. But then maybe it’s disrupting your hormones and you’re not really aware.
So I try to currently provide specific answers to that other than, I think we need more research for it. And there’s definitely a possibility that that could be true. And I know science and sections have been linked a lot with dairy consumptions. And again, it could be partially the processing also that could be the effects.
I mean as the adult I feel like you’re more protected from some of those factors and you might be more susceptible depending on your gut health. So if you’re an individual who has a leaky gut for example, that might allow more of these hormones to kind of enter into the systemic circulation and have affect.
Whereas if your gut is healthy, and closed and you’re really able to break down all of those components of milk, even the hormones, you might just be able to break them down if you have a healthy gut and functioning digestive system. And then not going to bother you. I mean I can’t really… there’s always the possibilities.
Julia: Yeah, I mean even if I’m looking at infants with just can’t stand between breast milk and their healthy gut, breast milk seems important and necessary at the best of times. And then you had any kind of deregulation of that system and that recipient. So the infants say they have any kind of issue then breast milk just seems to become increasingly and exponentially more important with any disruption in that system.
And it’s kind of the same even with adults. The more screwed up your gut is, the more important it is to tend to making sure that’s right before you can have any expectation from long term health. In that kind of thing, what are certain types of disorders, other types of kind of, deregulations of… the gut-brain access in there you know. The gut ended up itself. Are there certain areas where you guys are looking at the application of milk components to solve some of those issues in any kind of disorders or just biopsies that you seemingly treat?
Megan: Yes, in terms of clinical implementations, we started with sort of, gut dysfunction. So we’re really interested in not only milk components, but the microbes that are associated with this milk components. So basically, it’s bacteria that you’re going to hear a lot when you talk about the milk oriented micro-biota, typical bacteria, selectively promoted by milk components so we’re not only looking into actually utilizing the components of milk but also the bacteria that can be promoted by those milk components as therapeutics.
Focusing a lot on the gut so that you can see this. We’ve been really interested in health of pre-term infants because they’re born sort of un-adapted to the outside world in general. So they’re not even really sick to consuming mother’s milk because they’re so immature that they’re digestive systems aren’t even prepared to handle something as digestible and is protected of human milk.
So they’re very susceptible to gastro-intestinal dysfunction and one of the most lethal disorders that they have in their gut is necrotizing endoclisis. It’s the number one killer of preterm infants who survive the first 2 weeks of the issue. And a lot of those mothers also can’t produce enough milk because they’re just not at that stage in their producing milk.
And even if they can the nutritional need of the infant because it’s stopped being the utero, the nutritional needs don’t match out and they still have to be supplemented with formula especially protein. And so we’re really interested in using milk components to try and protect pre-term infants so we’ve been doing studies looking at different bacterial supplementation.
Because a lot of infants are also born by some infections. And so they don’t get the vaginal flora that they should get that’s colonizing the gut, they colonize the flora which is partially what makes them susceptible to necrotizing endocysis. So trying to supplement them with probiotics has been one thing that we’re looking at in clinical trials.
And then my particular research is in the area of the gut-brain access like you’ve mentioned. So I’m actually interested in the gastro-intestinal health of children with autism. This is a sort of under-appreciated dimension of autism affecting disorders you know. Most people are familiar with viola dysfunction that they suffer from communication, social interaction and kind of a good way that is in their own world.
They don’t really interact the outside world very well and that can be really heartbreaking for parents especially. So that’s very well recognize. But what’s not is that a lot of these kids often suffer really bad gastro-intestinal dysfunction. And there’s a lot of risk factors for autism that seemed to connect with the gut. So one day early antibiotic exposure.
So I’ve talked to a lot of parents about kids with autism. And a lot of them have received over 6, 8, 10 rounds of antibiotics before they’re in year and a half. So there could be sort of inherent, maybe immune, deficit that they have, that predispose some infection. And then they have received antibiotics so it could be an immune thing.
Or it could actually be directly disrupting the micro-biota that could be causing not only their gastro-intestinal symptoms but potentially the hater’s problem as well. And they’ve actually shown in some studies that administering specific antibiotics that are targeted to the gut so they’re not absorbed. They’re actions is just in the gut and when they received those antibiotics, it’s actually reversed in some of their autistic symptom temporarily until the antibiotic gets administered anymore and then the symptoms come back.
Non-intake or some optimal breastfeeding track is also a respectable autism so now intake of colostrum and short duration of breastfeeding, are rift factors. So I’m very interested in how that gut and the gut the gut micro-biota interacts in the development especially with all this new information that we’re doing and about how the micro-biota actually influence the nervous system.
The fact that they can actually produce another transmitter directly. And the fact they produce other byproducts which is also changing fatty acids that can actually cross through the gut, into the circulation and even in the blood barrier to influence production in the brain.
So there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that there is a bi-directional communication between the gut and the brain and the micro-biota definitely play a role in that in whether it’s a consequence of the disorder. Or whether they have some central nerves and dysfunction that leads to this kind of bacteria or whether the reverse is true, we don’t know.
We don’t really know what the cause lies. So one of the first steps to try and maybe augment the micro-biota and see if it hasn’t effect not only gastro-intestinal symptoms but behavior as well. So that’s sort of what we’re exploring now to see if what kind of a connection there is there.
Julia: It’s such an important work. I mean all of this is obviously crucially and vitally important to a lot of areas. But I think you have to start somewhere. You have to pick something into start plugging away right. Because you want to finish it up.
Megan: Yeah exactly.
Julia: There’s kind of also a third party and this is something that we see a lot more I think it is also starting to surface and understand kind of, this effective environmental factors as well. So the things that affect us, that we’re exposed to on a daily basis and I hate using the word, chemicals and toxins is because people think that I don’t understand what chemicals and toxins are but trust me, I do.
I understand that they have their benefits and they have their place but we’re just exposed to so many of them on a daily basis now and I think there’s no way to weed out what’s having the effects that they’re having. But I’m just wondering in this kind of context of the micro-biota and more specifically, this mother’s milk to child and the infant that micro-biota.
If this is a third party, that’s part of this conversation that’s causing damage, causing effects and are we going to see, do you think we’re going to see this play out in the research as well. I think people are going to look at this and see if milk is correcting and capable of correcting some of the damage of some of this environmental factors as well.
Megan: Yeah that’s a really, really great question and a great point. And I’ve been starting to look at that a little bit more recently. And I’ve actually heard that as an argument, for formula actually being safer than breast milk. Because a lot of the chemicals that we’re exposed to in our daily lives and that we’re not even aware of, do get the breast milk and can be at high levels and although we still don’t have enough research to know necessarily how high.
It’s high enough to cause problem to people, just the fact that they’re present in that type of level in women who are exposed in things like BPA and in plastic. Things like valets and pretty much I mean, they’re in carpets, couches, your shampoo, and your conditioners. Any personal care products that you use. Lotion, hairspray, I mean all those chemicals are put in from the industry without being tested.
So in the United States wherein chemicals are not required to be tested for safety before they’re put into the environment. It’s actually reverse when you try to prove once they’re in your environment or having some sort of detrimental effect on health. You have to prove that before you withdraw them from products which is not the best way you think.
And we have been testing their breast milk a lot more lately because there is this concern and the do find this levels in breast milk. And now, you know, switching and even storing breast milk, storing it in glass containers that is, and then plastic bottles and stuff are big movement lately.
But I guess they think there are implications for that. Do I think that formula is safer because of that? No! Because formula is processed the same way that other foods are and it’s very likely that those chemicals are also found in those formulas. They’re just not required to test for them or to put them on the label or anything.
So there is definitely a concern for that. And I think minimizing your exposure as much as you can to those things as well, your breastfeeding would be kind of taking your health into your own hands. Trying to use as much as glass containers as much as you can. Don’t put in new carpet. Don’t paint generally during that time. There’s no way obviously to completely remove all of those chemicals from your environment. But there are certain parts that you can take, to try and to prevent that.
Julia: Yeah, it even looks like reviewing your own personal care products and trying to mitigate the in the best that you can. And there’s a lot of products now that are available on the market that don’t contain that ones that we know to cause problems. So there’s definitely things that you can do. You shouldn’t feel hopeless in that regard.
But I think it’s important to point out that you know, there’s all this… my husband and I get this a lot because we feel like these little micros are causing this conversation that are going on about what’s causing this problem, the other problem. Everybody thinks they have their answer but I don’t think there’s this underlining issue. This kind of silent conversation that’s going on about our environmental taxes and all the other things. And there’s no way to know at one point if that is a good breeder threat than not having probiotics or not having this, that or the other thing.
Megan: Exactly. There’s so much problems we don’t know where to start. They just keep on remaining faster. And I know a lot of that. We are starting that research in Davis so [0:40:21] [inaudible] is a professor there. And she’s interested in the cosmology of autism actually and how different environmental causes might be contributing to announcement of autism.
So we’re starting there and she’s very interested also in breast milk and things are just now starting to analyze the breast milk from mom’s with autism to see if there is any difference. It maybe because they do have higher levels in that expressional extent and for other babies. But that research is again, in its infancy and recently don’t have any answers yet.
Julia: Right. Fascinating. That’s very fascinating. Well it’s very important work that you’re doing and I think it’s great that you’re doing it so keep it up. We’ll have to check back in again and see where you get in the next couple of years, maybe what you learned. I’m fascinate by it. It wasn’t for me to stop but I’m glad that other people are going with it.
Megan: Well it’s typical, it’s typical. So for this research. Because not everyone thinks that it’s important and it’s really hard nowadays to convince people that this research should be funded. So yes I will need all the help that I can get.
Julia: Right, right. Wow that’s great. Well thank you so much again. It’s been a really interesting conversation and I hope everyone listening enjoyed it. I people want to learn more about what you’re doing, Megan we’ll read some of your research. Where can they find more about you?
Megan: Yes absolutely. Please feel free to email me. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m currently also on the process of starting up a consulting business. So if anyone is interested in either personal computation or business companies that are interested in research consulting. And feel free to contact me as well. And yeah, I’m available anytime and hopefully I’ll have a website soon that I can direct people to as well. But it’s still up and coming.
Julia: Awesome. Well thank you so much Megan. I hope that the parties get in-touch and take advantage of all the hard work that you put into all of this and it’s been a wonderful conversation. Thanks for being with me.
Megan: Wow thank you so much for having me. It’s a great conversation and I will get you updated.
Julia: Awesome. Thank Megan!
Megan: Alright. Thank you so much!
Julia: Okay, bye!
Megan: Alright, bye.
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