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Preschoolers' Diet and Gut Health: Unravelling the Connection: Study 2
By - Danone Nutricia Academy

Key takeaways

  • Infant gut microflora is pivotal in overall health and immunity.
  • Early intake patterns of carbohydrates, energy, protein, fat, and fibers modulate the gut microbiota composition in adulthood.
  • Diverse genera of gut microbiota are linked to intake of each nutritional component, suggesting that dietary interventions can modulate gut microbiota.

 

Background

The gut microbiome is a crucial determinant of human health by promoting its maintenance. For instance, it aids in the immune responses, produces energy from food, and helps synthesize vitamins.1 The gut microbiota composition is influenced by long-term diet. Nutritional components such as carbohydrates, energy, protein, fat, prebiotics and fibers modulate the gut microbiota composition in adulthood.2 For instance, consumption of prebiotics by children promote the bifidobacterial populations, increase calcium absorption, and may exert long-term health benefits. 3Thus, establishing the roles of dietary components in gut microbiota composition, especially from early life, is vital for early nutritional interventions.2

This Journal Watch discusses how dietary components modulate the gut microbiota composition. The study reviewed examined the gut microbiota composition and their correlation with long-term dietary intake from infancy to late adolescence -published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Study 2: Long term Intake of Dietary Components and Gut Microbiota Composition

What was the objective of the study?

The study assessed the long-term correlation between intake of carbohydrates, energy, protein, fat, and fibers with gut microbiota composition.2

Study design

The study design is as shown in figure 2.

Figure 2. Study design to assess the association between GI microbiota composition and long-term dietary intake from infancy to late adolescence. Adapted from: Oluwagbemigun et al.20212

Results2

  • The median energy intake and energy-adjusted carbohydrate, fiber, protein, and fat intakes at age one year and 18 years were 769 and 2056 kcal/d, 100 and 281 g/d, 9 and 19 g/d, 25 and 73 g/d, and 31 and 79 g/d, respectively.
  • 23 genera among the gut microbiota showed an association with energy intake at one year of age (negative association for 16 genera, such as Eubacterium, Allisonella, Barnesiella and positive for seven genera, such as Ruminococcus 2, Lactococcus, Megamonas, and Collansella)
  • 11 genera were associated with carbohydrate intake at age one year (negatively with seven genera, such as Bacteroidales, Coprococcus 2, and Phascolarctobacterium and positively with four genera, such as Prevotellaceae uncultured, NB1-n uncultured organism, and Dialister).
  • 13 genera showed association with fiber intake at age one year (negative for seven genera, such as Akkermansla, Bifidobacterium, and Collansela and positive for six genera, such as Rhodococcus, and Ruminococcaceae NH4A214 group).
  • At one year of age, protein intake was associated with five genera (negatively with one genus, the Eubacterium, and positively with four genera, such as Megamonas).
  • Fat intake at one year was positively associated with seven genera, such as Thalassospira, Ruminococcaceae UCG-1, and Eubacterium.

Conclusion

Dietary macro and micronutrients influence the overall gut microbiota composition throughout early life. As children grow, the gut microbiota matures and gets more diverse, suggesting that assembly of the gut microbiome starts from early childhood. A few key dietary components, such as foods high in fibers, vitamins, and minerals, by consuming diverse plant proteins have the strongest associations to gut microbiota development. Prebiotics consumption by children promote the bifidobacterial populations, yielding long-term health benefits. In conclusion, dietary choices and patterns at an early age strongly influence the gut microbiota in the long run. Therefore, early interventions with the right nutrients will improve gut- and overall health.

References:

  1. Herman DR, Rhoades N, Mercado J, Argueta P, Lopez U, Flores GE. Dietary habits of 2-to 9-year-old American children are associated with gut microbiome composition. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2020 Apr 1;120(4):517-34.
  2. Oluwagbemigun K, O'Donovan AN, Berding K, Lyons K, Alexy U, Schmid M, Clarke G, Stanton C, Cryan J, Nöthlings U. Long-term dietary intake from infancy to late adolescence is associated with gut microbiota composition in young adulthood. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2021 Mar;113(3):647-56.

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