Wednesday, June 19, 2024
HomeHealth & MedicineGut Health: Childhood Diet Has Lifelong Impact

Gut Health: Childhood Diet Has Lifelong Impact

Gut harbors over 100 trillion microorganisms. Eating too much unhealthy diet as a child can alter microbial ecosystem for life —a new study in mice suggests.

The human gut is the largest endocrine system of the body that harbors over 100 trillion resident microorganisms. If unhealthy, a childhood diet can alter the gut’s microbial ecosystem for life; a new study in mice suggests that even having a healthier diet or exercise later would not help.

The human gut harbors highly diverse microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa collectively known as ‘gut microbiome’ that contribute to human health through the biosynthesis of vitamins, essential amino acids, and hormones and by absorbing the vast majority of nutrients and energy component.

The use of antibiotics, eating unhealthy food, or suffering from a chronic illness, disturb the gut ecosystem making the body susceptible to disease.

The number of microbial species in the human intestine is estimated to exceed 2000. They are approximately ten times as many microorganisms, around 100 trillion, as the number of somatic cells within the body (Conlon et al. 2014).

gut abdomen fermented diet food

Not all microorganisms are beneficial, though. Along with the pathogenic organisms, the beneficial ones maintain a healthy relationship known as commensal with other body systems.

Though genetics play a significant role in maintaining the commensal, other factors, such as the use of antibiotics, eating unhealthy food, or suffering from a chronic illness, disturb the gut ecosystem making the body susceptible to disease. 

Over the decade, gut health has been an essential topic of health research, particularly on a diet-modulating gut microbiome, exploring how dietary choices impact human health by altering the gastrointestinal commensal (Singh et al. 2017).


Diabetes: Diet Lowers Blood Pressure and Reduces Need for Medication

Diet curb appetite, induce weight loss.. Maintaining substantial weight loss to manage type 2 diabetes, effectively control high blood pressure ...

Supplement Boosts Muscle, Mitochondria Health

An oral supplement intended to stimulate a natural body process appears to promote muscle endurance and mitochondrial health in humans ...

In a recent study, scientists at the University of California, Riverside (UC-R) examined the effect of an energy-dense Western diet, usually characterized by high in fat, sugar, and low fiber, fruits, and vegetables, on the changes in the gut microbiome in mature mice fed an unhealthy western diet as a juvenile. The study found that eating fat and sugar as a child can alter the microbiome for life, even if dietary patterns change later.

The study results were published in the Journal of Experimental Biology on 11th January 2021 (McNamara et al. 2021).

In the study, the researchers used mice as experimental animals. They divided the mice into several groups, including one control given a regular diet and two treatment groups: one given a healthy diet and the other fed a Western diet.  

exercise, after child

After three weeks of dietary intervention, all mice were returned to standard living conditions, including diet and exercise, at which they are usually kept in a laboratory until 14 weeks of age. Then, after collecting fecal samples, the researchers examined the diversity and abundance of microorganisms in the animals.

They found that the juvenile Western diet reduced bacterial richness and diversity after the 8-week washout period (equivalent to ∼6 human years). The quantity of Muribaculum intestinale, which is involved in carbohydrate metabolism, was significantly reduced.

The analysis also showed exercise played a significant role in the growth of bacteria. The number of Muribaculum bacteria increased in mice fed a standard diet with access to exercise and decreased in mice on a high-fat diet whether they had exercise or not (Bernstein 2021).

The UCR researchers found that an early-life Western diet had more long-lasting effects on the microbiome than early-life exercise. “These results constitute one of the first reports of juvenile diet having long-lasting effects on the adult microbiome after a substantial washout period. Moreover, we found interactive effects of a diet with early-life exercise exposure, and a dependence of these effects on genetic background”—the study concluded.

Related Publication and Further Readings

Bernstein, J. (2021). “Study finds childhood diet has lifelong impact.”   Retrieved on 2/10/2021, 2021.

Conlon, M. A. and A. R. Bird (2014). “The impact of diet and lifestyle on gut microbiota and human health.” Nutrients 7(1): 17-44.

McNamara, M. P., J. M. Singleton, et al. (2021). “Early-life effects of juvenile Western diet and exercise on adult gut microbiome composition in mice.” J Exp Biol.

Singh, R. K., H. W. Chang, et al. (2017). “Influence of diet on the gut microbiome and implications for human health.” J Transl Med 15(1): 73.


  1. Many thanks for this article. I would also like to talk about the fact that it can often be hard if you find yourself in school and just starting out to initiate a long credit standing. There are many pupils who are merely trying to pull through and have a long or good credit history can often be a difficult element to have. Henka Derby Mikaela

Recent Post

Earliest Animals

What Did the Earliest Animals Look Like?

Biologists have been searching for the earliest animals for more than a century, narrowing the possibilities down to two groups: sponges and comb jellies. Researchers...



For Weight Loss, Vegan Is Better Than the Mediterranean Diet

Vegan is more effective for weight loss, cholesterol control, body composition, and insulin sensitivity, when compared head to head with Mediterranean diet.


Air Pollution Increases the Risk of Chronic Diseases in Adults

A study involving almost 364,000 English citizens shows traffic-related air pollution raises the risk of several long-term physical and mental health disorders.

Early Life Experiences Can Have Long-Lasting Impact on Genes

A new study on fruit flies led by UCL scientists demonstrates that early life events can have a lasting effect on the activity of...

What Did the Earliest Animals Look Like?

Biologists have been searching for the earliest animals for more than a century, narrowing the possibilities down to two groups: sponges and comb jellies. Researchers...

Time-Restricted Eating Reshapes Gene Expression Throughout the Body

Timed caloric intake synchronizes circadian rhythms across several systems in mice by influencing numerous gene expressions, found researchers at Salk Institute Key Points: Time- restricted eating...

Study: Evolution is now acknowledged by the majority of Americans

Highlights: - According to a recent University of Michigan study, 54% of Americans now accept the theory of evolution as the most plausible explanation for...