Can you tell something about the importance of microbes in early life?
When a baby is born, it is so important to provide an optimal start by making sure the baby inherits the right bacteria and a perfect immune system. The health of the mother is crucial in this. Of course, quitting smoking and breast-feeding are very important for the child’s health. But Prof. Rijkers and I knew that the most important thing is to build a good immunity from day one. This ensures good health later in life as well. Just imagine that the major part of your immunity is established in the first years of life. When the right bacteria colonize your gut, this is good, however, so many babies are born in hospitals and are more likely to pick up hospital-acquired bacteria. The moment you have the idea of becoming pregnant, and the first months of life provide a window of opportunity for modulating the microbiota to promote healthy growth and development.
How do you see the future of indications specific probiotics?
I would not allow myself to be a 100% sure, because it is very important to be open for new ideas. However, I think the future will bring two things; personalized probiotics and new bacteria. We are now at the highest quality standards with the available lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. I think Wincloves’ probiotics set a benchmark in our industry. However, diagnostics can help us to personalize probiotics to make them even more effective. I do not think that every single person needs a different probiotic, but I do believe in a more targeted way to address specific bacterial communities.
Also legislation needs to be adapted in order to allow the use of recently discovered bacteria and to say more about the health effects of probiotics (based on the data derived from evidence based studies). In general patients should be able to manage their health by prevention instead of cure. I hope the future will allow us to communicate with people about the health effects of probiotics. Prevention is key to stay healthy and enjoy life.