Shoes For Little Ones

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Benefits of Good Bacteria

The word bacteria can strike fear in any mother. But did you know that your baby's growth and development depends on the presence of trillions of good bacteria in his gut? Read on to find out more.

Just the mention of the word bacteria is enough to strike panic in many mums. After all, aren’t they the monstrous microscopic creatures that cause their children to fall sick? They are dangerous little things and must be rid of, right? Actually no, not quite.

There are some bacteria that are absolutely essential to help support your child’s healthy gut, which can affect his total well-being. These “good” or friendly bacteria help support the functions of his gut such as digesting his food, protecting him from infection-causing bad bacteria and influencing his mood, thus supporting his physical and mental well-being.

Where do the good bacteria live?

Here is an astonishing fact: The microbes in our body outnumber human cells by 10:13, and majority of them live in our gut. In fact, taken together, the gut microbiota (all the microbes in the gut) weighs more than the brain2.

Given this rather large concentration of bacteria in our bodies, it is logical to assume that they do actually play a rather important role in the functioning of our bodies, right from birth.

What do the good bacteria do?

One of the main, and most obvious, functions that the bacteria in your baby’s gut perform is to support digestion. However, that is just one of the things that your baby’s gut does. It is central to your baby’s overall health and well-being because it impacts his physical growth and brain development through nutrient absorption, builds his natural defences, as well as influences his mood.

Research is increasingly linking digestive health to overall health11. Here is how your baby’s healthy gut microbiota positively impacts his gut health and total well-being.

Why good gut health matters

  1. Supports Physical Growth: Good bacteria facilitate digestion and absorption processes, especially breaking down complex food that the stomach and small intestines have difficulties do so. The digested food and absorbed nutrients provide all the energy and the nutrition that your baby’s growing body needs. For example, protein is important to achieve good growth. A sub-optimal protein intake may lead to growth failure12,13.

  2. Supports Brain Development: Digested nutrients such as DHA and ARA provide building blocks for optimal brain development. In addition, an essential trace nutrient such as iron – sent to the brain via the gut – is important to achieve good brain development. Insufficient iron intake may lead to impaired cognitive development14,15.

  3. Supports the development of his Natural Defences: 70% of the body’s immune cells are located in the gut4. The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in creating an effective immune status by helping crowd out bad bacteria and helping to manage allergies and intolerance21,32.

  4. Helps in modulation of mood: 90% of the body’s serotonin – the chemical compound which helps in the modulation of your baby’s mood, appetite, sleep, motility and transit – is secreted in the gut8. The gut microbiota plays a central role in serotonin production. Adequate amount of serotonin means that the baby sleeps well, has a healthy appetite and good digestion. This makes him feel well-fed and well-rested and therefore happier and more receptive to the stimuli around him.

  5. Support the Gut–Brain communication: The gut and the brain engage in a constant two-way communication. This communication is important as the brain sends emotional messages which impact the functioning of the gut and the gut communicates messages of comfort, satiety, and sleep to the brain. This communication happens via the 100 million nerve cells located in the gut1. Guess who helps the nerve cells to function properly? You guessed it – the gut microbiota.

    It is clear that your baby’s gut does more than just digestion. The presence of plenty of good bacteria in your baby’s gut indicates a healthy gut which helps provide the building blocks to support the development of his brain and body, and influences his day-to-day learning activities and moods. Therefore, it is important for you to nurture the development of healthy gut microbiota in your baby from the very beginning.

Mums and Dads, do you know the state of your baby’s gut health? Click here to find out about the 5 signs of a healthy gut

This article is brought to you by Danone Dumex®.

Danone Dumex® is part of Nutricia, #1 Baby Milk company in Europe^

We have been focusing our scientific and clinical expertise on gut health for the last 40 years. Danone Dumex® is committed to supporting little guts by continuous improvement, to help maintain the overall health and well-being of babies.

^ Danone Nutricia ELN is the first Ranked Milk Formula manufacturer both in Sales Value and Sales Volume for these 9 countries (UK, DE, NL, IRL, PL, BEL, CZE/SLO and ROM) during the MAT period Dec 2015.


*References 1,2,3,8 – Data is based on healthy adult population

1Goyal RK, Hirano I. The enteric nervous system. N Engl J Med. 1996 April 25; 334(17):1106-15

2Bäckhed F, Ley RE, Sonnenburg JL, Peterson DA, Gordon JI. Host-bacterial mutualism in the human intestine. Science 2005;307:1915-1920

3Grice EA, Segre JA. The human microbiome: our second genome. Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2012;13:151-70

8Baganz NL, Blakely RD. A dialogue between the immune system and brain, spoken in the language of Serotonin. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2013 Jan 16; 4(1):48-63

11Bischoff S. Gut Health: A new objective in medicine? BMC Med. 2011; 9:24

12Ziegler, E.E. and S.J. Carlson, Early nutrition of very low birth weight infants. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med, 2009. 22(3): p. 191-7

13Kashyap, S., et al., Growth, nutrient retention, and metabolic response in low birth weight infants fed varying intakes of protein and energy. J Pediatr, 1988. 113(4): p. 713-21

14Hurtado EK, Claussen AH, Scott KG. Early childhood anaemia and mild and moderate

Good Bacteria and Gut Health

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