For the Intestinal FloraFor the Intestinal Flora
What is the Intestinal Flora made of?
It is made up of approximately a hundred billion beneficial bacteria, a number that is ten times higher than the number of cells that make up our body.
These bacteria belong to five hundred and a thousand different species, and a 95% of them live in the colon.
Together, they can weigh up to two kilos, a weight that is similar to that of our liver, and their importance is vital, because they perform essential functions within our organism.
In fact, our existence would be much more complicated without them and we would live less time and much worse.
Importance of the Intestinal Flora
It is the organ that has more contact with the outside. Therefore, it is more susceptible to be attacked by external agents.
In fact, most of our defenses are settled in this area to protect us.
One of the defense mechanisms are the components of the intestinal flora.
These bacteria carry out essential tasks within our organism:
- Nutrition: they favor the synthesis of elements like vitamins (K and B), improve the absorption of calcium and iron in the colon and favor the bowel movements.
- Protection: the microbiota prevents the settling of external pathogen bacteria that can trigger infections.
- Immunity: this group of bacteria activates and strengthens the immune system by increasing our defenses against bacterial and viral infections.
The intestinal flora performs many functions
There are more than 400 cell strains from different bacteria in the intestine
<They are ten times more numerous that the cells of our own body
These hundred thousands of microorganisms are known as intestinal flora. They coexist with us, providing many benefits for our health:
- Defending us against many pathogenic germs (harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi). To do this, the intestinal bacteria which are beneficial for the body will colonize the intestinal mucosa so that the harmful germs cannot find a place to settle. Thus, the intestinal flora protects the intestinal mucosa against their attacks.
- Stimulating the intestinal mucosa and enhancing the regeneration processes of this tissue in order to keep it healthy and intact.
- Avoiding the damage caused by toxic products from the body, undigested particles or the cells from the intestine. This will prevent infections, allergies or autoimmune responses in the intestinal mucosa.
- Being involved in the metabolism of food and, therefore, in an efficient use of nutrients.
- Supporting the proper functioning of some vitamins and fatty acids in the organism, and their use as a source of energy by the cells of the intestinal mucosa.
- Beneficial intestinal bacteria can be ingested as probiotic supplements which can help to prevent diarrhea and constipation.
- Helping to maintain low cholesterol levels.
- Supporting the functioning of the brain, since a damaged flora can even cause the onset of mental disorders.
- Contributing to preventing allergies and infections in premature babies.
- Preventing the onset of eczemas and relieving their symptoms.
- Being the best way to prevent chronic urinary tract infections.
- Supporting the treatment of ear, nose, and throat diseases.
- Being the first step to treat digestive problems, since an intestinal cleansing helps to fix chronic digestive problems.
- Moreover, one of the most important functions of the intestinal flora consists of preserving a strong and healthy immune system.
The close connection between the intestinal flora and the immune system
There is a close connection between the immune system and the intestinal flora, which is why it is so important to keep it healthy as a defense mechanism of the body.
Researchers have discovered that the flora performs a protective function in the organism, it helps to stimulate the metabolism and to make the most of the nutrients that we consume through the food we eat.
A small mistake between the immune system and the intestinal flora can trigger inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
In this regard, it has been proven that probiotic formulas can be used to treat diseases that are caused by a immune system disorder.
The importance of the Colon
The colon is the part of the large intestine located between the caecum and rectum.
It plays a VERY important role in the absorption of nutrients and it can even help to store group B vitamins.
This is done through the so-called acidophilus bacteria which live in harmony with the organism and which produce their own vitamins.
The importance of Probiotics and Prebiotics
We can take probiotics (living organism) orally, they have to be resistant to the stomach acid and the bile, capable of being metabolically active in the intestinal flora and safe above all.
Prebiotics can be described as the “food” of the bacteria that are present in the flora. They are ingredients that are found in the diet that are not digested by the digestive enzymes: like the fiber from certain foods, inulin, germinated barley, etc.
Both prebiotics and probiotics can be used simultaneously, since they create a synergy specially after consuming antibiotics for a long period of time.
One of the most used probiotics are “Lactobacillus Acidophillus”: They tend to be used to reestablish the bacterial action of the colon. It is important to have enough digestive enzymes which are necessary to break down the proteins, carbs and fats in order to absorb them in the small intestine before they reach the colon. Each of these elements have their own specific enzymes.
The action mechanism of Probiotics
- They inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, bacteriocins (a protein toxin that is synthesized by a group of bacteria in order to inhibit the growth of similar bacteria) or other anti-bacterial peptide such as the defenses.
- They improve the functioning of the mucous membrane.
- They improve the innate and adapted immune response.
The enemies of the intestinal flora
Nowadays, our intestinal flora is constantly threatened by several factors: an unbalanced diet, processed food, alcohol, drugs, and an unhealthy lifestyle.
Apart from unhealthy food, there are also many medicines that can damage the intestinal flora: mainly antibiotics, cortisone, anti-acids (PPI, known as “Protein Pump Inhibitors”), anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirins, diclofenac, ibuprofen, etc.
Abusing these medicines can contribute to the onset of chronic diseases.
Normally, an antibiotic treatment can partially destroy the flora and it will not start to heal after several months.
When the flora is damaged, the defenses of the body are automatically weakened, which obviously favors the attack of harmful elements such as fungi, parasites, and viruses.
The intestinal mucosa will also be unprotected and vulnerable to harmful pathogens, fungal toxins, and other harmful substances, to the point that it can trigger a permeable bowel syndrome.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
The mucosa may have leakages which facilitate the invasion of toxins, fungi, or undigested particles in the bloodstream. This will trigger a powerful immune response that can result in the onset of the leaky gut syndrome or other diseases.
Many children are being born with a bowel disorder or suffer from it because they eat unhealthy food.
Moreover, if the parents have intestinal problems, it will be more likely for the children to develop the same diseases.
This is why it is necessary to take care of our intestinal flora, to keep it healthy, and to contribute to its regeneration as much as we can.
If you want to find out more about the leaky gut syndrome, click here.