Learn About the Gut and Gut Microbiota!
The gut is an amazing organ. But what exactly is the gut? And what is the gut microbiota – also gut’s ‘best friend’? These terms might seem like rocket science at first. Fret not, join us on this amazing journey as we make gut health as easy as ABC!
The gut is the generic term for your child’s gastrointestinal tract. It is the long tube that starts from the mouth, connects to the stomach, small and large intestines and finally ends at the anus.
The gut serves more than just digestion, a commonly known function. It plays a key role in your baby’s overall well-being such as supporting natural defences, helping to promote brain and physical development and influencing mood.
So does gut health (or state of gut) matters? Definitely! A healthy gut is important to increase the effectiveness of the various gut functions.
Imagine your gut as a beautiful garden with plenty of flora in different forms. How your garden flourishes, depends on the right mix of plants i.e. flowers and fruits vs weeds!
Similarly for a gut, it is home to trillions of micro-organisms, including both good and bad bacteria, and this microbe population is better known as the gut microbiota. Maintaining a healthy gut therefore hinges on the balance of having more good bacteria over bad bacteria (also known as having a healthy gut microbiota).
A healthy gut microbiota is responsible for supporting the many functions of the gut4, 5, such as
- Helps the body to break down certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have difficulties to.
- Aids in the production of Vitamins B and K
- Acts as the first line of defence against infection.
4Bischoff S. Gut Health: A new objective in medicine? BMC Med. 2011; 9:24
5Gerritsen J, Smidt H, Rijkers GT,de Vos WM. Intestinal microbiota in human health and disease: the impact of probiotics. Genes Nutr. Aug 2011; 6(3): 209-240
|So when does the gut microbiota start developing and how does it evolve?
Babies are born with a sterile digestive system, since they don’t need any gut bacteria while they are in utero. The gut microbiota therefore starts to develop as soon as a child is born, even during the delivery.
As your baby grows, the composition of his gut microbiota evolves throughout his entire life, from birth to old age, and is affected by numerous influences such as mode of delivery, nutrition, exposure to people and environment, stress.
Helping to create the right balance of good bacteria will support his overall well-being for the rest of his life. That is why we must always remember to ‘Weed, Seed and Feed’ our gut garden!
- ) Weed out the Bad Bugs
Too much sugar and saturated fat can feed the bad bacteria associated with obesity and allergies. Reduce your junk food intake and help squash the bad bugs in your gut!
- ) Seed the Friendly Bacteria
Fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi and fresh sauerkraut, provide the gut with beneficial bacteria. Not all friendly bacteria survive the trip through the stomach, but those that do, settle in the gut or exert positive effects as they pass through.
- ) Feed Good Bugs with Prebiotics
Prebiotics are like ‘fertilisers’ that encourage the growth and activity of good bacteria in your gut. Examples of prebiotics-rich foods include bananas, onions and asparagus.
Must-Read: Curious on how you can help to improve your baby's Gut Health? You are just a click away to MORE useful tips on a healthier and happier baby!
Here is an astonishing fact
There are 10 times more bacteria in your gut than cells in your entire body6! In fact, taken together, the gut microbiota weighs more than the brain7.
It is no wonder these little guys are super important in the functioning of our bodies, right from birth!
6Data is based on healthy adult population. Grice EA, Segre JA. The human microbiome: our second genome. Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2012;13:151-70
7Data is based on healthy adult population. Bäckhed F, Ley RE, Sonnenburg JL, Peterson DA, Gordon JI. Host-bacterial mutualism in the human intestine. Science 2005;307:1915-1920
More Interesting Facts about the GUT!
Refers to the body’s ‘feel good’ hormone, which allows your baby to be happy and smiley.
Hyperpermeable Intestines or ‘Leaky Gut’
Means that the intestinal lining of the gut has become more porous. This allows bigger, undigested food molecules and other toxins, which are not normally allowed though, to flow into the bloodstream.
This may lead to fatigue, bloated tummy, muscle pain and allergic reactions to food.
Did you know what a healthy digestive system looks like?
Continue on to the next page for more tips on finding out whether or not your little one is developing a strong digestive system. It’s as easy as looking into their poop!