Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) remains to be a main cause for child mortality in Africa. A recent 3-arm pilot study performed on 58 children from Uganda investigated the effect of SAM on the gut microbiota, the gut barrier integrity, mucosal immunity, and risk of gram-negative bacteraemia. Gastrointestinal functions in terms of gut permeability, inflammation, and satiety were compared amongst those consuming legumes (cowpeas in particular) versus those consuming conventional feeds.
- SAM is associated with significant relative gut microbiota immaturity
- Legumes, specifically cowpeas have a high content of resistant starch, in addition to their ability to improve the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of traditional sorghum foods consumed in Africa
- Feeding with standard feeds or legume-based feeds resulted in similar weight gain in children suffering from SAM
- The consumption of fermentable carbohydrate source (cowpeas) has a protective effect on the microbiota functionality, as reflected in the maintenance of butyrate levels even with the administration of antibiotics
- The consumption of cowpeas allows for the preservation of gut microbial fermentation, which is positively related to gut health and integrity
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