Opti-5 – How are the body’s systems connected?

The Opti-5 nutrition system was inspired by how different organs and systems in the growing body work together, as part of a group. We also call this “synergy”. Here are some examples:

Digestive health & immunity

The gut (intestine, or bowel) is a working part of the immune system. It is sort of inside-out – because it is within the body, but it deals with food that comes from outside. It not only helps filter and absorb nutrients, but acts like a barrier to block nasties that can affect a child’s health, like toxins, bacteria, viruses and parasites. The gut microbiome helps with this and is well-adapted to living inside the gut. It is made of billions of healthy bacteria that live off the non-digested fibre (oligosaccharides, also called “prebiotic” fibre) to grow, while releasing products that keep the gut healthy and prevent foreign bacteria and virus from infecting the body[1].

Digestive health & brain function

Have you ever felt so nervous that you felt sick in the stomach, or had to go to the toilet? Research in the human gut microbiome is very new, but from the evidence, we now know about a process called the “gut-brain axis” [2]. This is like a working relationship between the intestine and the brain. In fact, the gut is sometimes called the “second brain” because it has such a rich supply of nerves that control it and trigger pain signals. The products made by the gut bacteria, like GABA and butyric acid, act like neurotransmitters in the brain [3], which control moods and behavior. For example, we often notice changes in children’s behavior after they eat certain foods. And vice versa, when kids get anxious or irritated, their bowel movements sometimes change. Another example is how the infants with colic can have uncomfortable or irregular bowel motion.

Digestive health, growth & development

Like us, children are what they eat and drink, especially during the first 6 years of life, when their nutrients mainly go toward supporting healthy growth. The main job of the intestine is to absorb all nutrients in the diet properly, while also filtering out and removing waste. Normal growth strongly depends on getting a good supply of all the necessary protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals used to make new cells and increase the size of tissues. Children who have gut problems like such as diarrhea infections, lose these vital nutrients, and this puts the brakes on growth, followed by catch-up growth once they recover[4].

Growth & brain function

As the saying goes, “healthy mind – healthy body”. Nutrient deficits that affect normal growth also cause behavioral changes, such as anxiety, withdrawal and lower motivation to learn. This is sometimes part of a general malnutrition problem called “failure to thrive” [5], where children show delays in growth milestones, mental and social skills. In healthy children, healthy learning is also regarded as working together with physical activity and movement, through processes such as replenishing oxygen to the brain.

Brain & eye function

the eyes are an extension of the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. They control vision, one of the 5 senses, by responding to light, colour and movement. The eyes use information from what infants and children see around them to control how they move, communicate and process information. As kids get older, the complexity and speed of the information they can processing increases. So does their ability to coordinate with the eye for balance and movement, such as when playing sport, musical instruments or riding a scooter.

Vision, growth & development

A child’s ability to coordinate their body actually helps them to grow. Bones actually grow and gain strength by responding to movement vi of the muscles and joints around the body, like when children walk, run, jump and climb. Encouraging these activities on a regular basis stimulates the arms and legs to grow and gain strength.