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Health through gut, from early life and beyond

Microbiota and a healthy microbiome are fundamental to health. Its composition and balance are key to ensuring good digestion throughout life.

Early Life

We know that the right nutrition during an infant’s first 1000 days is paramount to the development of a well-functioning GI tract and for shaping lifelong health.1Vandenplas Y et al.. Wiley 2015 Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom, ed 1 We’ve learned too that colonizing the gut with diverse microbiota is vital for the development of a strong immune system, helping to protect against illness and infection.2Martin R, Nauta AJ Amor KB, Knippels LMJ. Early life: gut microbiota and immune development in infancy. Benef Microbe. Published on 2010;1:367-823Wopereis H Oozeer R. Knipping K, Belzer C, Knol J, The first thousand days – intestinal microbiology of early life: establishing a symbiosis. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. Published on

During the first few months of life, the GI system undergoes dramatic structural changes, including the formation of the digestive system and its enzymatic functions, as well as developing important neurological and biochemical processes. Optimal nutrition at this critical time helps to establish a balanced gut microbiota and impact future health. Human milk is the best source of nutrition for infants as it offers the balance of the right nutrients specifically tailored to the infant’s needs, developing healthy gut microbiota and an efficient immune system.4WHO Growth Standards Standards, Published on 2006. http://www.who.int/childgrowth/en/5Jeurink P van B, Jiménez E. Human milk: a source of more life than we imagine. Benef Microbes. Published on 2013;4(1):17-30.

As well as nutrition, external factors, such as the mother’s diet during pregnancy, type of birth and use of antibiotics, have been found to impact the balance of gut bacteria. An imbalance has been linked to common GI discomforts and FGIDs. Approximately one-third of infants suffer from regurgitation, with almost three-quarters of these infants also experiencing other GI symptoms.6Vandenplas Y et al.. Wiley 2015 Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom, ed 17Collado MC et al. Gut Microbes. 3(4): 352-65. Published on 2013. Gut microbiota imbalance has also been associated with an increase in asthma and allergy, as well as a greater risk of obesity and metabolic disorders later in life.8Collado MC et al. Gut Microbes. 3(4): 352-65. Published on 2013.

Everyday life

In our everyday lives we can positively impact our gut health through lifestyle choices, for example eating a balanced diet and having an active lifestyle. Probiotic yogurt products can support gut health as part of a balanced and varied diet and can help alleviate digestive problems. Specifically, extensive studies have shown probiotic products improve digestive discomfort and decrease the severity of irritable bowel symptoms, including abdominal pain, excessive wind, diarrhea and bloating.9Waitzberg, D., et al. Nutr. Hosp. 32, 501–509 (2015).10Agrawal A. et al. Aliment. Pharmacol. Ther. 29, 104–114 (2009).

Fiber consumption is also associated with physiological effects and therefore important in our diet. Dietary fibers are carbohydrates coming from plant foods that are not degraded by digestive enzymes in the small intestine, thus reaching our large intestine.

Different types of fibres have different effects in the gastrointestinal tract. The soluble and fermentable fibres have important roles in short-chain fatty acid production, maintaining a healthy microbiota in the gut, fluid and electrolyte absorption and gut integrity. The insoluble fibres play an important role in stool bulking, colon motor activity and bowel transit time. Both are important for the gastrointestinal tract to function properly.

During times of illness

Critically ill patients often suffer from a compromised gut microbiota and gastrointestinal problems including infections, diarrhea and constipation. The presence of such symptoms can lead to additional complications, affecting disease progression and intake of food. Often nutritional innovations can assist by relieving such symptoms and ensuring proper nutrition.

For example, supplementation of enteral nutrition with our unique fibre blend (MF6™) consisting of six different soluble, insoluble, fermentable and non-fermentable fibres that reflect the proportions of different fibre types in a normal diet, has shown gastrointestinal health benefits in numerous studies.

With our unrivalled expertise and understanding of the impact of nutrition on optimizing the balance of gut microbiota to enhance infant development and preserve life-long, good health, we continue to lead the way with transformative nutritional solutions.

View References

View References
1, 6 Vandenplas Y et al.. Wiley 2015 Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom, ed 1
2 Martin R, Nauta AJ Amor KB, Knippels LMJ. Early life: gut microbiota and immune development in infancy. Benef Microbe. Published on 2010;1:367-82
3 Wopereis H Oozeer R. Knipping K, Belzer C, Knol J, The first thousand days – intestinal microbiology of early life: establishing a symbiosis. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. Published on
4 WHO Growth Standards Standards, Published on 2006. http://www.who.int/childgrowth/en/
5 Jeurink P van B, Jiménez E. Human milk: a source of more life than we imagine. Benef Microbes. Published on 2013;4(1):17-30.
7, 8 Collado MC et al. Gut Microbes. 3(4): 352-65. Published on 2013.
9 Waitzberg, D., et al. Nutr. Hosp. 32, 501–509 (2015).
10 Agrawal A. et al. Aliment. Pharmacol. Ther. 29, 104–114 (2009).