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Gut Microbiota at Infancy Predict Risk of Obesity in Later Life

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola

What if you could predict whether your toddler might become obese by puberty, and then possibly take measures to ensure that it didn’t happen? New research on infant gut microbiota shows that this may very well be possible. As reported by News Medical Life Sciences, researchers found a connection between the phenotypes of gut microbiota in infants and younger children, and their propensity for being overweight or obese later. The promising findings may help identify risks in children so the obesity could be prevented, the scientists said.

Every day, it seems like new research continues to affirm that the best way to prevent health problems, including obesity, is to simply properly nourish — or renourish — your gut microbiota. In this instance, we already know that whether an infant is breastfed or bottle fed makes a difference.

For example, infant formula causes a change in gut bacteria, with a proliferation of those more commonly found in older children and adults, increasing the infant’s risk of obesity. This is one reason I encourage breastfeeding for at least six months if you’re able.

Another trigger for obesity in children is the amount of sugar they eat — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 99 percent of children between ages 1 and 2 are eating 7 teaspoons of added sugar a day. When compared to adults, this percentage is even greater than the highest level thought to be safe for adults!

To avoid feeding your children excess sugars — some of which you may not even realize you’re giving them — the American Heart Association recommends children under 2 avoid all foods with added sugars, including ready to eat cereals, baked goods, desserts and yogurt.

For example, when it comes to hidden sugars a single-size serving of yogurt with fruit at the bottom may contain up to 6 teaspoons of sugar; an 8-ounce serving of apple juice or orange juice contains 5.5 teaspoons of sugar. Dried fruits can also contain up to 21 teaspoons of sugar in 1 cup.

The bottom line is it goes without saying that, whether you’re an adult or a child, one of the easiest ways to support or decimate your microbiome is through your diet. With children, especially, earlier research has confirmed that food children eat impacts their gut microbiome and consequently their immune system as well as their weight.

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