Gut Health

Terms like "microbiome", "probiotics" and "gut-brain axis" can seem like a totally alien language sometimes. Luckily, we have food scientists in our team to demystify them all!

What’s the deal with “gut health”?

The gut microbiome is the population of trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms in your intestines that are key to your health and well-being. Researchers are learning that the gut microbiome is important for many aspects of your health such as your digestive health, immune health and absorption of nutrients from food.

Over the past few decades, an expanding body of research has demonstrated links between gut health and the immune system, mood, mental health, heart health, and oral health. Most recently, a gut microbiome-brain connection has been identified, meaning that the microorganisms in our gut can impact how our brains work.

Short version: gut health is about the balance of good bacteria in your intestines, that have impact on the rest of your body’s well-being, including your brain!

 

What’s the deal with probiotics?

Probiotics can sometimes seem like an mysterious lot, but it's really easy when you break it down simply:

Probiotics

  • Good gut bacteria that when consumed in adequate amounts, provides a health benefit.

Prebiotics

  • Dietary fibre that good gut bacteria feeds on.

Mo Milk has both of these! This results in a synergistic interaction sometimes referred to as Synbiotics.

 

What does having good gut health do for my child?

  • Boosts immune system
    • Your microbiome and immune system are constantly affecting each other, and a healthy immune system helps protect from illnesses such as those from viruses and infections.
  • Helps keep a healthy balance for intestinal microflora
    • An imbalance means there are too many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria.
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
    • Your gut bacteria can affect how your food is digested, how fat is stored and whether you feel hungry or full.
  • Prevents and treats digestive issues like diarrhea and constipation
    • Regular bowel movement is a sign of good gut health.
  • Helps promote healthy sleep cycles
    • The gut releases the same sleep-influencing chemicals as your brain, and good sleep is always important!
  • Helps promote healthy mood
    • While the gut-brain axis is a complex one, the bottom line is that if your child has good gut health, they are less like to have tummy issues, which means a better temperament (aka temper tantrums!) that allows them to play and learn better.

 

In summary: It’s great for maintaining overall well-being of children, so they can lead happier, healthier lives.

 

How can I tell if my child’s gut health isn’t at their best?

  1. Bowel Movements
    • Frequency: your child should be having at least one well-formed bowel movement per day.  Less than this, or too often are possible signs of gut issues.
    • Consistency: Stools that are hard and difficult to pass, and ones that are loose and hard to hold in show signs of abnormal gut health. The Bristol Stool Chart is a good guide for the ideal consistency.
  2. Belly
    • Kids’ tummies should be flat and not protruding. If they feel/look bloated and hard to the touch, it’s a sign of digestive and gut health issues.
  3. Gas
    • It’s normal and healthy to pass gas, but excessive farting which smell especially bad can mean food isn’t being digested properly and an unhealth balance of gut bacteria.
  4. Skin
    • Rashes, facial redness, eczema, and acne are often indicators of gut health.  In fact, a 2008 study of 13,000 adolescent participants showed that those who suffered from acne were more likely to experience symptoms reflective of gut health including bloating and constipation (reported in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health).
  5. Immune Health
    • If your child gets sick more easily and more often than other kids, it could be a sign of gut bacteria imbalance, as approximately 70% of our immune system resides in the gut.
  6. Energy Level
    • When the gut is not healthy, it impacts the ability to absorb nutrients from food.  Furthermore, gut infections (which aren’t uncommon) can rob the host of nutrients, making one feel lethargic, weak, and craving sugar. On the other hand, if your child is wired, hyper, and has a hard time falling asleep at night, this can also be a sign of deeper issues often correlated to gut health.

 

How do I improve my child’s gut health?

  1. Make sure they have a good diet with plenty of vegetables, as these act as prebiotic fibres that help good gut bacteria thrive.
  2. Allow your child to be exposed to the myriad of good bacteria in their environment, which means let them play outdoors! 
  3. Avoid unnecessary antibiotics. If they are prescribed due to an illness, a good probiotic supplement will help restore the gut bacteria that would have been affected.
  4. Keep junk food and unhealthy sweets to a minimum, they are the opposite of prebiotics as they help create a hostile environment for good bacteria. This will have a negative impact on the microbiome and henceyour child’s digestion and wider health.
  5. Supplement their diets with an effective dose of probiotics and/or prebiotics. Luckily, Mo Milk has both of these in a convenient and yummy drink!

 

References

Innova Trends Report 2019

HFI Health Focus International Global Trend Study 2018

Gibson GR, Hutkins R, Sanders ME, Prescott SL, Reimer RA, Salminen SJ, Scott K, Stanton C, Swanson KS, Cani PD, Verbeke K, Reid G (2017) Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 14(8):491–502.2017.75.

So D, Whelan K, Rossi M, Morrison M, Holtmann G, Kelly JT, Shanahan ER, Staudacher HM, Campbell KL (2018) Dietary fiber intervention on gut microbiota composition in healthy adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 107(6):965–983.

Lazar V, Ditu L-M, Pircalabioru GG, Gheorghe I, Curutiu C, Holban AM, Picu A, Petcu L, Chifiriuc MC (2018) Aspects of Gut Microbiota and Immune System Interactions in Infectious Diseases, Immunopathology, and Cancer. Front. Immunol. 2018, 9, 1830

Micka A, Siepelmeyer A, Holz A et al. (2017) Effect of consumption of chicory inulin on bowel function in healthy subjects with constipation: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr 68(1): 82–89.

Vandeputte D, Falony G, Vieira-Silva S et al. (2017) Prebiotic inulin-type fructans induce specific changes in the human gut microbiota. Gut 66(11): 1968–1974.

Reimer RA, Willis HJ, Tunnicliffe JM et al. (2017) Inulin-type fructans and whey protein both modulate appetite but only fructans alter gut microbiota in adults with overweight/obesity: A randomized controlled trial. Mol Nutr Food Res 61(11).

Biggs SN, Lushington K, van den Heuvel CJ, Martin AJ, Kennedy JD. Inconsistent sleep schedules and daytime behavioral difficulties in school-aged childrenSleep Med. (2011) 12:780–6. 10.1016/j.sleep.2011.03.017.

Endesfelder D, Castell WZ, Ardissone A, Davis-Richardson AG, Achenbach P, Hagen M, et al. Compromised gut microbiota networks in children with anti-islet cell autoimmunity. Diabetes (2014) 63(6):2006–14. doi:10.2337/db13-1676.

Szymański H, Pejcz J, Jawień M, Chmielarczyk A, Strus M, Heczko PB. Treatment of acute infectious diarrhoea in infants and children with a mixture of three Lactobacillus rhamnosusstrains– a randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled trial. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006;23(2):247–253. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2006.02740.x.

Filippo C.D., Cavalieri D., Paola M.D., Ramazzotti M., Poullet J.B., Massart S., Collini S., Pieraccini G., Lionetti P. Impact of diet in shaping gut microbiota revealed by a comparative study in children from Europe and rural Africa. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 2010;107:14691–14696. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1005963107.

Lacy BE, Gabbard SL, Crowell MD. Pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment of bloating: hope, hype, or hot air? Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y) 2011;7:729–739. 

Salem I, Ramser A, Isham N, Ghannoum MA. The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis. Front Microbiol. 2018;9:1459. Published 2018 Jul 10. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.01459

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