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Nutrition News

How HMOs Can Support Infant Cognition

How HMOs Can Support Infant Cognition

Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are unique prebiotics found naturally in breast milk that feed the good bacteria in the gut where approximately 70% of the immune system exists.  While there are hundreds of different HMOs available in breast milk, the most abundant and well-researched among them is 2'-Fucosyllactose (2'-FL). New findings from Abbott published in the Journal of Nutrition & Food Science suggests that HMOs may help support cognition and motor development in infants. The study found that 2'-FL and 6-sialyllactose (6'-SL) HMOs together may be helpful in brain development. For the study, researchers collected a total of 82 human milk samples from women at one month postpartum to determine the impact of mothers’ weight and medical risk factors on breast milk composition. The women were asked to record weight and other variables, including gestational diabetes and smoking habits. The results of the research showed that higher levels of 6'-SL HMO in breast milk was linked to higher cognitive and motor skills scores in breastfed infants at 18 months, regardless of the mothers’ weight, diabetic status or other variables. And, greater levels of both 2'-FL and 6'-SL HMOs together were associated with higher motor skills scores at 6 and 18 months of age. Gross and fine motor skills are essential aspects of a child’s overall development. They allow a child to explore his or her environment, play with objects, demonstrate affection by reaching and holding, and demonstrate independence through mobility. This research suggests HMOs may also be important in supporting brain development in babies. 

Decoding Your Child's Growth Chart

Decoding Your Child's Growth Chart

Pediatricians have several different tools they can use to measure your child's health. One of the most powerful among them is the growth chart. Sometimes, it can be difficult to make sense of all those lines and numbers — if you've felt this before, you're not alone. Here's some valuable insight into how to decode and better understand your child's chart. A Window Into Your Child's Health The growth chart might seem like just another piece of paper, but it's packed with several important insights. On the surface, it can look like these charts are simply about height and weight; however, growth is an indicator of many aspects of your child's health and well-being, such as cognitive development, immunity and nutrition status. One Size Doesn't Fit All The growth chart uses a set of measurements, called percentiles, to compare your child's weight, height and head size (in the case of infants) to those of other children of the same age and sex. The higher the percentile, the larger a child is compared to their peers. Conversely, the lower the percentile, the smaller the child. For example, if your child is in the 75th percentile for height, that means they are taller than 75% of kids their age. Kids of  average height for their age based on WHO Child growth standards would measure in the 50th percentile. It's natural to assume bigger is better, but that's not necessarily the case. Many factors influence a child's size, including genetics, diet, and even their environment. Instead of focusing on a specific goal, pediatricians are far more interested in each child's individual growth trend. For instance, a child who has consistently been in the 30th percentile for height or weight might be experiencing perfectly healthy growth; however, if that number were to suddenly drop to the 15th percentile or below, further investigation might make sense. Adding Up the Numbers Because children experience different rates of growth according to their age, there are two basic types of growth charts. The first is designed for newborns and babies up to age 2, while the other is for kids and young adults between the ages of 2 and 20. At every wellness visit, your pediatrician will measure your child's height and weight to keep close tabs on their growth trend. Then, they'll plot these figures on the chart. You don't have to wait until your child's next appointment to learn the results. You can download the same charts they use and plot the results yourself. 

Low-Carb and Keto Diets: Which One Is Right for You?

Low-Carb and Keto Diets: Which One Is Right for You?

The ketogenic diet, better known as the keto diet, is a popular style of eating that restricts carbohydrates — but it's by no means your average low-carb diet. While low-carb and keto diets overlap in a few key ways, from their potential health benefits to the foods they discourage, they vary significantly. We spoke with Pamela Nisevich Bede, a registered dietitian for ZonePerfect and medical manager for Abbott's scientific and medical affairs team, about low-carb and keto diets. Here are the insights she shared, as well as some tips to consider if you're looking to try either of these diets. What Is a Low-Carb Diet? Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are known as macronutrients — they provide calories for the body and are needed in larger amounts than micronutrients, which are primarily vitamins and minerals. Many eating plans, including keto and low-carb, involve emphasizing or restricting certain macronutrients. "Technically, any eating style recommending less than 45% of calories from carbs can be considered low carb," Nisevich Bede began, "but many research studies home in on approximately 10% to 25% of calories coming from carbs." A low-carb eating plan replaces the calories you'd normally get from carbs with protein-rich foods and certain fats.  While the exact distribution of calories varies from plan to plan and person to person, an example of a low-carb macronutrient breakdown might include 10% to 25% of calories from carbs, 40% to 50% from protein, and 30% to 40% from fats. The emphasis on protein provides you with energy and supports appetite control and muscle health. "Some of the protein in the diet may be used to make glucose for energy," she explained. "If you're on a lower-calorie plan, watch out for signs of fatigue or muscle soreness." How Is the Keto Diet Different From Other Low-Carb Diets? While Nisevich Bede noted that people tend to use the terms interchangeably, the keto diet is very different than traditional low-carb diets in terms of its macronutrient breakdown.  It requires you to get 5% to 10% of your calories from carbs, 15% to 30% from protein, and at least 70% to 80% from fat — that's nearly twice as much fat and half as many carbs as what typical low-carb diets recommend. "A ketogenic diet highly restricts carbohydrate intake, and it's purposely high in fat," she explained, "while a low-carb diet focuses on moderate protein and moderate fat." The keto diet outlined here is for the general consumer and is not therapeutic, she continued, with the ultimate goal being to promote ketosis — a natural metabolic process in which the body burns fat for fuel. Ketosis begins once the body's glycogen stores are depleted. How to Decide Which Eating Style Is Right for You