Your child's gut plays a crucial role in helping to build his natural defences to fight against infections. Read on to find out more.
We want our children to grow up happy and healthy. To ensure this, we try to take many protective and proactive measures to keep our children free of infections as far as possible.
However, children are children, and as part of their natural learning journey, they will pick things up and put them into their mouth. Occasionally, your child may pick up infection-causing germs.
So how do you help him cope with these germs? Well most definitely not by sanitizing everything in sight with anti-bacterial wipes and antiseptics. In fact, believe it or not, the one thing that you should be doing to build your child’s natural defences, is to actually work hard to cultivate good bacteria in your child’s gut.
How does my child's gut influence his natural defences?
Here's a quick fact: The gut is home to 70% of the body’s immune cells1 and trillion of friendly bacteria (or healthy gut microbiota)
Yes, the gut, or the gastrointestinal tract, is the largest immune organ in the body. It hosts your child’s own little army of immune cells and friendly bacteria which help his natural defences – or the body’s ability to identify and kill bad germs that can cause infections — to function properly in the following ways:
- Preventing infections: The friendly bacteria in the gut form a layer covering the wall of the gut. This extra layer acts as a barrier against infection-causing germs, by leaving no space on the gut wall for them to grow, thus protecting children from infections2,3.
- Helping to manage allergic reactions: The immune cells identify which substances are harmful and which are safe for your child’s body. This function is extremely important in the management of allergies1. Allergies typically happen when the immune system is hyperactive to a safe substance. This happens more often in children, as the immune system is not yet fully developed. Healthy gut microbiota supports the development of immune system so that it will be less likely to react in a hyperactive manner to safe substances4.
How do you nurture your child's healthy gut?
Keeping the gut healthy helps keep the natural defences strong. However, a healthy gut needs a good bacteria profile with plenty of good bacteria to improve the total well-being of your child.
But how do you ensure that good bacteria thrive?
A diet rich in prebiotics can help support your child’s healthy gut and total well-being. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibres found in our food such as bananas, berries and whole grains, and can help promote the growth and activity of good bacteria in your child’s gut. In a nutshell, they are the source of food for these good bacteria.
However, not all prebiotics are the same, so choose with care. Scientific research has shown that a 9:1 GOS/lcFOS prebiotics blend helps promote a good gut bacteria profile1.
A healthy gut builds the foundation of your child’s total well-being. Nurturing a healthy gut in his early years is important to strengthen your child’s natural defences, support his brain and physical development and influence his day-to-day mood.
1 Arslanoglu et al. 2008. Journal of Nutrition, 138:1091-1095.
2 Furness JB, Kunze WA, Clerc N. Nutrient tasting and signalling mechanisms in the gut. II. The intestine as a sensory organ: neural, endocrine, and immune responses. AM J Physiol. 1999 Nov; 277 (5 Pt 1): G922-8
3 Matamoros S, Gras-Leguen C, Le Vacon F, Potel G, de La Cochetiere MF. Development of intestinal microbiota in infants and its impact on health. Trends Microbiol. 2013 Apr;21(4):167-73
4 Parfrey LW, Knight R. Spatial and temporal variability of human microbiota. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2012 Jul;18 Suppl 4:8-11