Your child’s brain: Supporting cognitive development by feeding the gut

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90% of your child’s brain develops in the first 5 years: Your child’s brain develops rapidly in the few first years of life. The first smile, first step and first words are some of the most joy-filled moments of parenthood. Your little one’s brain undergoes an amazing period of development from birth to the age of 3—producing more than a million neuronal connections each second that make these awesome milestones happen. On an average, a brain has nearly 100 billion neurons and is the seat of all our thinking.

Proper nutrition is crucial for normal brain and neurocognitive development. So, the gut has a central role as it receives and processes all the needed nutrients for optimal and timely brain growth and development.

Gut-brain connections revealed: Nourishing your child’s brain with a healthy gut

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The gut and brain are connected

Apart from the well-known route of nutrient delivery from the gut to the brain via the circulatory system, a fascinating fact is that your tiny tot’s gut and brain are connected by a network of nerves and dialogue via a multitude of neuro-signals – just like the fibre optic connections bringing this article to you over the internet.

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The gut bacteria respond to neurochemical signals

To add further to this two-way communication, much like a hi-scale virtual conference, the trillions of resident gut bacteria (microbiome), want to be a part of this conversation. The gut bacteria produce and respond to different neurochemical signals, which travel to and from the brain. One such communication channel is the vagus nerve that extends from the brain stem through the neck, down to the abdomen.

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Happy Gut Happy Brain Nervous System (400x400)

The gut microbiome influences early brain development

New science reveals that the gut microbiome influences early brain development, building structures that help neurons within the brain pass messages to one another (synapses) increasing the pace at which these brain connections form (much like the hi-speed point-to-point connection of a 5G mobile network enabling 2-way communication).

Nurture the gut-brain connection: What you can do!

When it comes to nutrition, here’s what you can do to foster your child’s gut-brain connections:

1

Nourish a healthy microbiome

Nourish a healthy microbiome for a healthy gut and to positively impact learning, memory and mood.

  • Feed the ‘good’ gut bacteria with prebiotics like FOS, GOS and 2’FL as these oligosaccharides are preferred foods, helping the ‘good’ bacteria multiply rapidly.
  • Top up the gut microbiome with ‘good’ probiotic bacteria such as those from the Bifidobacterium

 

2

Ensure key nutrients

Ensure adequate intake of key nutrients that have a larger effect on brain growth and cognition:

  • DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), an omega-3 fatty acid vital for cognitive functions and enhancing learning and memory.
  • Lutein, a major carotenoid associated with eye health and improved brain processing speed and memory.
  • NVE (Natural Vitamin E), a powerful antioxidant naturally found in parts of the brain linked to memory, vision and language.
3

Support nutrient absorption

Support nutrient absorption with the right food ingredients. How nutrients are delivered also impacts their absorption – Palm oil free milk formulas have been scientifically shown to improve calcium, fat and DHA absorption.

Armed with these nutrition tips, now you can nurture more amazing moments along your child’s learning journey with a happy gut and a happy brain.

References

  1. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-18779997
  2. Bastiaanssen, T. F. S., et al. (2020). Gutted! Unraveling the role of the microbiome in major depressive disorder. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 28(1), 26–39.
  3. Smith, L. K., & Wissel, E. F. (2019). Microbes and the mind: How bacteria shape affect, neurological processes, cognition, social relationships, development, and pathology. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14(3), 397–418.
  4. Sukhpreet K. et al.. Bacteroides-dominant gut microbiome of late infancy is associated with enhanced neurodevelopment. Gut Microbes, 2021; 13 (1): 1930875
  5. Jena A, et al. Gut-Brain Axis in the Early Postnatal Years of Life: A Developmental Perspective. Front Integr Neurosci. 2020;14:44. Published 2020 Aug 5
  6. Cohen Kadosh K, et al. Nutritional Support of Neurodevelopment and Cognitive Function in Infants and Young Children-An Update and Novel Insights. Nutrients. 2021;13(1):199. Published 2021 Jan 10.
  7. Berger PK, et al. Human milk oligosaccharide 2′-fucosyllactose links feedings at 1 month to cognitive development at 24 months in infants of normal and overweight mothers. PLoS One. 2020 Feb 12;15(2):e0228323.
  8. Padial-Jaudenes M, et al. J. Physiological Impact of Palm Olein or Palm Oil in Infant Formulas: A Review of Clinical Evidence. Nutrients. 2020;12(12):3676.

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