Webinar: “Nutrition and cognitive development in children”

4th October 2022

The food we eat influences functioning of the brain and, perhaps more importantly, development of the child’s brain. However, there is also a key link between brain development and the gut microbiome.

Microbes in our guts produce specific metabolites, some of which can be detected in our breath (e.g., methane, H2, short chain fatty acids and alkanes). The guts of infants are nearly sterile at birth, but they become a unique community of trillions of microbes by adulthood. An increasing body of evidence shows that these bacteria have an impact on development of the brain, affecting behaviour and cognitive function. The most important outcomes identified by NUTRISHIELD include:

  • Key role of gut microbiome in brain development and behaviour
  • Early gut colonisation is affected by the child’s environment
  • Gut bacteria can potentially be changed/manipulated and might positively affect brain development and function.
  • Relationships between the gut microbiome and health are complicated and not always as expected
  • Healthy, well-balanced diets are correlated with better cognition in children and reduced risk of less cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease in older adults
  • Pro-inflammatory foods (e.g., meats, non-oily fish, sugar-sweetened beverages) can negatively affect the gut microbiome whilst anti-inflammatory foods (e.g., oily fish, olive oil, green leafy vegetables) have a positive impact
  • Probiotics are the subject of current research and understanding of any benefits still at an early stage
  • Breath analysis is a useful non-invasive approach for assessing individuals’ metabolic status including gut microbiome responses to dietary intervention.

The webinar was organized by Alpes Lasers SA as a part of the EU-funded project NUTRISHIELD (Fact-based personalized nutrition for the young, Grant Agreement No. 818110).


Prof. Carolina de Weerth (Radboud University Medical Center, NL)

Prof. Esther Aarts (Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, NL)

Dr Simona Cristescu (Life Science Trace Detection Laboratory, Radboud University, NL)


Tags: Nutrition, Webinar

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