Introducing solids, Gut health and Immunity

Scientifically reviewed by
Dr Fathalla Ali, PhD (Paediatrics)

22/11/2021

Your baby’s immune system development in the first three years of life is strongly linked to your baby’s gut health and gut bugs (developing gut microbiota). Your baby’s gut bugs develop over these three years from a relatively simple gut bug community to one that is richly diverse. Higher gut bug diversity is associated with a healthy gut.

The factors influencing the development of gut bugs into a healthy gut are whether your baby:

 

  • Is born full term or premature
  • Is born by vaginal delivery or caesarian
  • Is breast fed or formula fed
  • How solids are introduced.

 

A recent Study in Canada and the Netherlands reviewed the day-to-day diets of 24 healthy, full term infants aged 12 to 14 months.  Results of the Study show:

  • Carrot, banana and avocado were the most common foods consumed by the 2 Study groups (Canadian infants and Dutch infants)
  • The response of the gut bugs to the introduction of solid foods was consistent despite different geographical locations
  • The Canadian infants were exposed to a greater number of food items(15) compared with the Dutch infants(8)
  • The gut bug diversity and richness was higher in the Canadian infants due the introduction of a greater number of solid food items and exposure to common allergic foods such as wheat, eggs, fish, milk and tree nuts
  • The growth of important gut bugs such as Bifidobacterium showed a similar response to diet in both studies and was found to be associated with dietary diversity in both groups.

The stability of the infants’ gut health in the Study was strongly correlated to the diversity of diet items introduced during the period of solid food introduction. Foods that are diverse and high in fiber are associated with microbiota stability and gut health. This stability is an important contributing factor in the development of the immune system of the infant as they are introduced to solids.

Keywords: Microbiota, Healthy gut, Bifidobacterium, Veillonella,  High fiber, Solid foods, Weaning, Diversity, Breastfeeding, Stability.

Reference: Homann, C.-M., Rossel, C. A. J., Dizzell, S., Bervoets, L., Simioni, J., Li, J., Gunn, E., et al. (2021). Infants’ First Solid Foods: Impact on Gut Microbiota Development in Two Intercontinental Cohorts. Nutrients13(8), 2639. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu13082639



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