Gut & Microbiology

How does nutrition in early life affect the gut and microbiota?

Significant changes in nutrition during early life, from in utero sources to ingestion of milk, followed by the introduction of solid foods, are some of the most important programming mechanisms influencing the development of the body’s biological systems during this period, including the development of the child’s GI tract and microbiota.

As well as containing all the nutrients an infant needs for healthy growth and development, human milk is also an important source of beneficial bacteria that may help to colonise the infant GI tract, contributing to the composition of the gut microbiota.1,2,3 In addition, human milk is a rich source of oligosaccharides, which exert a prebiotic effect on the infant gut, supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.4

Together, these facilitate the development of an appropriate gut microbiota diversity and composition,5 which can positively influence the developing gastrointestinal, immune and metabolic systems.

This infographic explains why we have tiny microbes in our gut, why are they important, what may happen if we don’t have the balanced microbiota, what are the key factors in the first 1000 days that shape our gut microbiota as well as the important role of nutrition and our innovation for a healthy gut.


View References

Wopereis H, et al. Pediatr Allergy Immuno 2014;25:428-38.
Abrahamse E, et al. Food Dig. 2012;3:63-77.
Scholtens PA, et al. Ann Rev Food Sci Technol. 2012;3:425-447.
Jeurink PV, et al. Benef Microbes 2013;4:17-30.
Shamir R, et al. Wiley 2015 Milton, Brisbane, Australia, ed 1.