Have you heard of the latest science buzz around “Happy Gut, Happy Brain”? It may seem incredible, but fact is the tiny bacteria in our gut can wield great superpowers. So, mommies and daddies, it is no wonder then that you are hardwired to obsess about your tiny tot’s feeds, burps, farts, poops and more – because a happy gut holds the key to so much of your little angel’s growth and development.
The tiny, mighty gut
Tiny tots are wired to feed, sleep and grow. It is the mighty gut that works around the clock, receiving and processing precious nutrients at every feed to fuel rapid growth. And it is the tiny gut’s mighty army that also makes this possible.
The gut’s army: A tiny one’s gut plays host to trillions of microorganisms called the gut ‘microbiome’. The number and variety of these good bacteria is influenced by multiple factors, a key one being nutrition (milk feeds). While some resident bugs may be harmful, the gut is also the cozy, comfortable home for all the ‘good bacteria’ or ‘probiotics’ that thrive, nourish and protect your little one. And these are the gut’s superheroes.
Superpowers of happy gut microbiome
Multiplies and Matures (with) the Immune Cells
Over 70% of the cells of the immune system lie in the gut wall. As many disease-causing germs enter the body via the gut, these immune cells mount a first response to protect your tiny tot. The good gut bacteria army also interacts with immune cells in the gut to help them grow in number as well as mature.
Builds Allergy Response
This mighty gut microbiome army also develops and maintains the gut lining – the body’s first line of defense to food allergens. Further, it interacts with the immune system cells to create substances that trap or bind allergens in the gut, eventually expelling them from the system and also modifying the way these cells behave to reduce allergic reactions.Read more
Hotline to the Brain
The gut and the brain communicate through nerve connections, especially the vagus nerve – receiving and sending messages to each other. It’s now easier to understand the outburst of your little one when his gut-associated nerves experiencing hunger or tummy pain communicate these signals to his brain, causing him to cry to get your attention. But there’s more! These nerve connections also send signals to the brain to help improve the rate at which brain cells form connections with each other, a critical part of early development.Read more
Now you understand why the Gut is such a superhero!
Nurture this “gutsy” superhero: What you can do!
“Feeding” the gut with a constant supply of nutrients to develop strongly and thrive is particularly important at an early age. After all, it directly impacts immunity, allergy defence and cognitive development in our children. Moreover, these early years provide a “critical window” as the early foundational gut bacteria species have an incredible, lifelong impact by influencing the strength & composition of the mighty “gut microbiome” army over a lifetime.
Feed the lining
The gut lining regenerates every 5-7 days to withstand the constant wear and tear that it may suffer while breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste. A key nutrient that supports rapidly regenerating gut cells is nucleotides.
Feed the “good” bacteria
Feed the ‘good’ bacteria in your little one’s gut with preferred ‘fuels’ such as prebiotic fibres i.e. 2’-FL/FOS/GOS: 2’-FL per se has been scientifically shown to be associated with fewer reports of eczema in children. And don’t forget that these fuels, once broken down stimulate the “vagus nerve” – the hotline between gut and brain that aids faster connections with the brain cells!
Feed with gentle and small proteins
Feed with gentle and small proteins like 100% partially hydrolysed whey – these are easier to digest broken-down protein molecules and also help reduce the risk of potential allergic reactions that could occur.
Strengthen the gut
Strengthen the gut with key nutrients like vitamin A, B6, B12, C, D, Copper, Folic Acid, Iron, Selenium and Zinc, that support normal functioning of your child’s immune system.
The art of feeding the gut right in early childhood is so much a science too. But the rewards are well worth it for they last over a lifetime.
- The number and variety of these good bacteria is influenced by multiple factors including age & delivery pattern, diet, antibiotics usage etc. Hasan, Nihal, and Hongyi Yang. “Factors affecting the composition of the gut microbiota, and its modulation.” PeerJ vol. 7 e7502. 16 Aug. 2019, doi:10.7717/peerj.7502
- Togini P (2017). Gut Microbiota: A Potential Regulator of Neurodevelopment. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 11:25.
- Cowan CSM, Dinan TG, Cryan JF. Annual Research Review: Critical windows – the microbiota-gut-brain axis in neurocognitive development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2020 Mar, 61:3 pp 353-371.
- Jena A, et al. (2020) Gut-Brain Axis in the Early Postnatal Years of Life: A Developmental Perspective. Front. Integr. Neurosci. 14:44.