The more we uncover about the ecosystem of bacteria residing in us, the more it becomes evident that nurturing and supporting the good bacteria in our gut can have positive effects on our health and development. Addressing the health and diversity of the microbiome is now recognised as crucial to our development from as early as preconception. Research now supports the pivotal role of micro-organisms in fertility, conception, pregnancy, and infancy, and it has been proposed that the period from conception to 2 years of age accounts for 70% of an individual’s future health.1 It also represents a critical window of opportunity to help support early childhood growth and development and to safeguard health in later years. Probiotics are suggested to be an important tool to ensure an optimal conception state, pregnancy progression, infant development, and child maturation1 and have been shown to positively affect the microbiome over this crucial timeframe.
What is our microbiome? Our bodies provide a home for a vast range of micro-organisms, including bacteria, fungi an d viruses. Collectively, these are known as the human microbiota. Our microbiome is the collection of genomes from all the micro-organisms and are specific to each person. Some micro-organisms are disease-causing, and others only become detrimental to our health if they are able to proliferate. Others can be beneficial to the body in many ways. In a healthy person, these micro-organisms are balanced and coexist peacefully.
How does the microbiota benefit our health? The commensal bacteria in our microbiota help to keep us healthy in many ways. They help to support immunity, regulate hormones, digest our food, and synthesise vitamins. They also provide a physical barrier, protecting us against foreign pathogens through competitive exclusion and the production of antimicrobial substances.
Why are the first 1,000 days so important? The gut microbiota develops rapidly leading up to the second year of infancy, playing a crucial role in laying down the foundations for health. Intervention during this timeframe is important as human plasticity (the body’s ability to adjust) decreases through age. As the assembly and maturation of the microbiota has largely occurred by the age of 2-3, strategies to target the gut microbiota after this period may have less impact. The assembly of micro-organisms during early life plays a critical role in immune, endocrine, metabolic, and other host developmental pathways. If these important pathways are disrupted by unfavorable conditions, such as the poor microbiota of the mother, Caesarean section, formula feeding, antibiotic use, poor diet, living in too santitised environment etc. the course of ones health can be can be disturbed.
Why is there now an increased need for probiotics?
The types of disease that are now prevalent, and are increasing, are chronic conditions such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, and autoimmune conditions – all notably having an inflammatory component. The change in the composition of our microbiome is likely contributing to this increase. Factors that are having detrimental effects on our internal ecology include medications, Westernised diet, chronic stress, C-section, and the overuse of antibiotics. For example, research has demonstrated that antibiotics given during the first two years of life can increase the risk of eczema, food allergy, asthma, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease in later life. Furthermore, Caesarean section births are becoming increasingly common. In Europe, Caesarean section rates have increased by 14% and here in the UK, they have increased from one in five to one in four. Pro-biotics are a good support to increase gut flora and for immunity. To order yours head over to the 'Shop' tab and take advantage of your 10% discount today.