THE MICROBIOME FROM BIRTH
Let's start at the beginning. Our own birth is also the birth of our gut microbiome. But what exactly is the gut microbiome? What does it provide? And why are our first 1,000 days so important?
What is the gut microbiome?
The human microbiome is composed of communities of bacteria (and viruses and fungi) that have a greater complexity than the human genome itself.
The human microbiome has extensive functions such as development of immunity, defense against pathogens, host nutrition including production of short-chain fatty acids important in host energy metabolism, synthesis of vitamins and fat storage as well as an influence on human behavior, making it an essential organ of the body without which we would not function correctly (A, Sanderson, 2017).
The gut microbiome hosts over 70 percent of the cells that make up your immune system. It also supports the digestion of food and the functioning of the intestine. For example, good bacteria in the intestine lower the pH level in your gut, which, in turn, is beneficial in fighting against pathogens.
We build our microbiome from birth.
Did you know that as adults, we carry around 1.5 kg of “microbiome” material with us? There are billions of bacteria in our gut--in fact, there are 150 different types. A healthy microbiome consists of many different types of bacteria that live in balance with each other; but which types are currently unknown. This even differs from person to person. If the intestinal bacteria are out of balance, this can cause unpleasant complaints. We will discuss this further in the following chapters.
The first 1,000 days
The first 1,000 days (conception - 2 years) of the child are most important to build an optimal intestinal microbiome. When we are in the womb as a baby, we are protected by our mother's immune system. After birth, we have to take care of our own immune system. We develop a large part of the immune system in our intestines; in other words, in the microbiome. We build this up partly through our mother during delivery, and also through nutrition. For example, the mother naturally transfers bacteria, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, to her child during breastfeeding.
If this is not possible, a baby is also well fed with bottle feeding. This bottle feeding is rich in prebiotics in a patented form, which has a positive effect on the gut microbiome. For example, regular Nutrilon uses the fermentation process, which creates postbiotics. This has a positive effect on the microbiome, and regardless of the composition of the microbiome, it differs just like the fingerprint of humans!
Okay, we’ve talked about a lot of terms already. We will return to the meaning of all these terms in further Gut-Mind articles. We’ll also go deeper into how you can optimize your microbiome and why this is so important for your mood, health and intestinal problems.
Until the next!
Dietitian at SauerCrowd