Prebiotics, microbiome, and immunity

mother and babyBaby-formula makers have begun adding inulin fiber to promote regularity in infants. In this study, 219 boys and girls, aged three to six, took 6 grams of inulin per day, or a placebo.

After 24 weeks, kids taking inulin had 19.9 percent higher levels of the probiotic bifidobacterium, and 7.8 percent more of the probiotic lactobacillus, in stool samples, compared to placebo. The inulin group also had softer, more normal stools beginningat 12 weeks. Also for inulin, there were  fewer fevers requiring medical attention, and far fewer episodes of sinusitis.

Doctors believe inulin may work by decreasing the acidity of the gut, boosting the intestinal barrier function, and strengthening gut immune cells. “By making small adjustments to your daily choices, you can achieve significant improvements in your health status from very early on,” doctors said. “Using inulin, we can strengthen natural defense forces.”

Omega-3s and cognition

Because omega-3 fatty acids are so important to health, doctors have begun measuring total omega-3s circulating in whole blood, in an assessment called the Omega-3 Index. In this study, doctors measured omega-3s in 307 children from Ghana, aged two to six, where diets are high in carbohydrates and protein, but low in fat.

In a test of cognition, called executive function, doctors asked children to first sort a group of cards by color, then to resort them by the shapes of images on the cards. Older children performed better than younger, but children with the highest total omega-3 levels, and highest DHA levels, were three and four times, respectively, more likely to pass the test compared to kids with the lowest levels.

Discussing the findings, doctors said children with higher whole blood levels of omega-3s are more likely to have normal cognitive function and healthy brain development.

Reference: Journal of Nutrition; August 2018, Vol.148, No. 8
Natural Insights for Well Being November 2018

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