In this presentation, Valérie Verhasselt discusses the central role gut immunity plays in long term health and disease prevention. She explains how the gut is part of the immune system and gives a detailed overview of how the gut is structured and works, including local and systemic homeostasis. If the gut immune function is compromised, several conditions and diseases may develop, such as food allergies, coeliac disease, inflammatory or cardiovascular diseases and obesity.
A number of research studies are outlined, demonstrating the development of gut immunity. This research concludes that breastfeeding can help a child become autonomous in terms of gut immunity once weaned. Giving an allergen via the mother’s food intake while breastfeeding can be a route of allergic sensitization in early life: it can induce tolerance.