New Study Reveals Best Foods to Fight Malnutrition in Children

  • This diet worked better in animals and humans, and its results were great in promoting healthy bacteria.
  • More trials are underway to see whether this diet has a long-term effect on the weight and height in children.
  • The human body consists of microbes and human cells, of which human cells form only 43%.The remainder is microbial, and includes bacteria, viruses, fungi and micro-organisms.

A diet rich in bananas, chickpeas, and peanuts improves intestinal bacteria in malnourished children, helping them to grow, according to scientific research published today: “Effects of microbiota-directed foods in gnotobiotic animals and undernourished children.” An American study of children in Bangladesh concluded that these foods specifically have the potential to promote healthy microbes in the body, which in turn help to grow bones, brain, and body.

The chickpea or chick pea (Cicer arietinum) is an annual legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. Its different types are variously known as gram or Bengal gram, garbanzo or garbanzo bean, and Egyptian pea. Chickpea seeds are high in protein. It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes, and 7500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.

According to the World Health Organization, about 150 million children under the age of five worldwide suffer from malnutrition. Because they are both young and vulnerable, many malnourished kids have less beneficial bacteria in their intestines compared to healthy children of the same age.

Scientists at the University of Washington in St. Louis believe that intestinal bacteria can be a cause of poor growth in children, but not all foods are equally good at solving this problem. The researchers studied the main types of bacteria in the healthy intestines of children in Bangladesh. They then conducted tests on mice and pigs to see which foods promoted beneficial bacteria. This was followed by a one-month trial, published in the  Science Journal, in which the research team tested various diets of small groups, including 68 Bangladeshi children aged between 12 and 18 months, who were malnourished.

Malnutrition is a condition that results from eating a diet in which one or more nutrients are either not enough or are too much such that the diet causes health problems. It may involve calories, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals. The symptoms of micronutrient deficiencies depend on the micronutrient that is lacking.

The study found that bananas, soybeans, peanut flour, and chickpea paste, achieved the best results in recovering from malnutrition. It has been shown that this diet is able to promote bowel microorganisms associated with bone growth, brain development, and immune strengthening. The components of this system are acceptable and affordable to people in Bangladesh.

Professor Jeffrey Gordon, who heads the team of colleagues at the International Center for Diarrheal Diseases Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh, said the aim was “to target microbes for recovery. Microbes do not see bananas or peanuts; they only see a combination of nutrients that can be used and shared. This diet worked better in animals and humans, and its results were great in promoting healthy bacteria. The other diets, which contain rice or lentils, were of lower quality and sometimes destroyed the intestines more.”

Professor Gordon explained that the reason for the success of these foods is still unknown, but much more trials are underway to see whether this diet has a long-term effect on the weight and height in children. “This microbial community extends beyond the intestine, which is closely linked to good health,” said the professor. In other countries, different foods might have similar effects.

The human body consists of microbes and human cells, of which human cells form only 43%. The remainder is microbial and includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, and micro-organisms. The human genome “the whole set of human genetic instructions” consists of 20,000 information or something called genes. But if you add microbial genes to each other, the number is between 2 million and 20 million microbial genes. This is known as the second genome and is linked to diseases including allergies, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, Parkinson’s disease, whether cancer drugs work or not, as well as depression and autism.

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Aiden Adams

Aiden Adamms is a longtime journalist and broadcaster. He worked for Radio and TV in newsrooms across Austria as a national reporter, producer, and host.


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