Science journal recognised the research achievement of the ICDDR,B and Washington University, USA, on gut microbes to combat malnutrition as one of the runners-up in the collection of ten biggest scientific breakthroughs of 2019.
The research on the relation between malnutrition and microorganisms, especially the bacteria, living in our intestine revealed that malnutrition even in well-fed children may hamper brain and body development.
According to the World Health Organisation data, globally 1.7 crore out of 4.9 crore children under five years are affected by wasting or gaining low weight in its severe form in 2018.
Researchers said children suffering from malnutrition often fail to grow up properly even after receiving enough to eat.
As a result, their brains do not develop properly and they remain susceptible to diseases for many years after.
Scientists from the ICDDR,B and Washington University believe that this could be the cause of poor growth — and not all foods are equally effective in solving the problem.
Together, they studied the main types of bacteria presence in the healthy guts of children. They also tested which sets of foods boost these important bacterial communities in animal models.
In a recently concluded trial involving 68 malnourished children aged 12-18 months living in Mirpur, Dhaka, the research team tested out the children’s diet habits.
They investigated the impact of diets on the gut microbiota, and how members of microbiota that are beneficial are affected positively.
Another key outcome of this study was to see the effect of diets on proteins produced in the body of the children.
Consequently, two articles were published in the Science in July 2019.
ICDDR,B Nutrition and Clinical Services senior director Tahmeed Ahmed and Washington University professor Jeffrey Gordon have been leading this research since 2014.
Prof Gordon said the aim had been ‘to target microbes to heal. Microbes don’t see bananas or peanuts — they just see a blend of nutrients they can use and share.’
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