Bioactive nutrition and infant gut development - Dr. Ryan Carvalho


Scientific advances have enabled a better understanding of some of the unique components in human milk, termed ‘bioactives’, which are thought to protect against infection and inflammation, and contribute to immune maturation and healthy microbial colonisation.

2 min read

Dr. Ryan Carvalho


Early infant feeding is critical to achieve optimal growth and development, and help every child achieve their inner potential. Breastfeeding is the best way to feed an infant, and provides benefits to the infant and the mother. These benefits range from social, emotional and behavioural, to nutritional and functional. The advances in science and technology have enabled a better understanding of some of the unique components in human milk. 

What we now know is that human milk has both nutritive and non-nutritive factors that support healthy development. Human milk has distinct bioactive components, termed ‘bioactives’, which are thought to protect against infection and inflammation, and contribute to immune maturation, organ development and healthy microbial colonisation.

Today, we will look at the advantages, benefits and clinical evidence of bioactive components in early infant nutrition. We will understand the advantages and benefits of these bioactives in human milk and review the literature on the clinical evidence of the role of these bioactive  components in infants who are exclusively breastfed, as well as infants who are not exclusively breastfed. These benefits include immune development, protection against infection, gastrointestinal development, gut microbiota, neurodevelopment and metabolic health.

Finally, we will conclude with a description of the future areas of research related to these bioactive components, to understand how we can together explore the opportunities to participate and contribute to the future of infant health.