A large review and meta-analysis of 35 studies (which involved 15,000 patients) found that being breast fed as an infant reduced the risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This research was published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.

On average, being breast fed reduced the risk of inflammatory bowel disease by 26 percent. Interestingly, among Asian individuals the benefits were far more dramatic; there was a 69 percent reduced risk of developing Crohn’s disease. The longer the duration of breastfeeding for all study subjects, the greater the reduction in risk

Breast milk is an ideal source of nutrition for infants. It’s not just the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids in breast milk that are so good for a baby’s development. Breast milk is an excellent source of probiotics, prebiotics, as well as immunoglobulins. It sets an infant’s immune system up for better lifelong health. I do realise that some women are not able to breast feed. In those instances, a lot of the same benefits can be obtained with the use of a high quality probiotic.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both inflammatory bowel diseases. They are autoimmune conditions, which means the immune system attacks the intestines, causing tissue damage. Both diseases can be mild or become highly aggressive and life threatening. I am seeing an increasing number of cases in recent years, particularly in very young people.

If you have inflammatory bowel disease, there are a number of remedies that I’ve found to be highly effective. Glutamine is always my first choice because it has soothing and healing properties to the gastrointestinal lining. It is needed by the cells that line your intestines, helping to repair them. People with inflamed intestines do not absorb nutrients as well. Therefore they are usually nutrient deficient. Selenium and Vitamin D are often low and require supplementation. For more information about my recommendations for autoimmune disease, see the book Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation.

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