The bacterial content of the infant's gut has been shown to be important for the development and maturity of the immune system and can have an influence on health in later life. A recent article, published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health provides and overview of the development and role of gut bacteria in early life.
Preschoolers in South Australia obtain adequate amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrate and most vitamins and minerals from their diet but have low intakes of dietary fibre and omega 3 long chain polyunsaturated fats (LCPUFA) and have high intakes of saturated fats. A diet low in fibre, low in omega 3 LCPUFA and high in saturated fat puts children at risk of heart disease and other adult disease in the future if these nutrient deficiencies and excesses are not addressed.
A review published in the Medical Journal of Australia provides evidence that well planned vegetarian diets based on wholegrains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables can meet the nutritional needs of children and adults. In addition, plant based diets produce lower green house gas emissions making them more environmentally sustainable.