Composed of a multitude of microscopic living organisms, the intestinal microbiota (or intestinal flora) is one of the mechanisms essential for the proper functioning of the human organism. Some medical experts even consider it to be an organ in its own right that everyone must maintain properly in order to preserve their health. Specifically, why should we take care of our gut microbiota? What are the natural solutions to do it?
The importance of taking care of your gut microbiota
Also known under the name of intestinal flora, this culture of microorganisms gives valuable information on the state of health of an individual, by the richness or not of its composition. Certain doctors of the 19th and 20th centuries also relied on the analysis of traces of the microbiota contained in the stools of their patients to establish their diagnosis. The microbiota is made up of an exponential number of bacteria, yeasts, archaea, eukaryotes and fungi that live in community and line the walls of the gastrointestinal system thanks to the biofilm.
These good bacteria live in symbiosis with the human organism, thus participating in several essential functions. In the colon, the microbiota takes care of the fermentation of undigested substances after intestinal absorption (starch, mucins, glycosaminoglycans, pectins, lignin, etc.). It therefore makes digestion complete. In addition, the microbiota is involved in the metabolic transformation of bile acids. Some studies have also shown that these bacteria actively participate in the synthesis of vitamins B9, B9, B12 and K by the body.
Apart from facilitating the digestion of food, defense of the body constitutes the second major function of these microorganisms. Indeed, the microbiota forms a protective barrier against ingested bacteria, viruses or microbes. It also stimulates and regulates the activity of immune system general, including most of the cells found in the digestive tract. Finally, by secreting active mediators on the brain, the microbiota is essential for the good communication between the gut and the brain.
Taking care of your intestinal microbiota reduces the risk of contracting certain pathologies and discomforts. Frequent digestive disorders, sudden weight gain, urinary or pulmonary infections, as well as allergic reactions are among other things linked to a disturbance of the intestinal microbiota. Some studies also suggest that microbiota dysfunction is linked to worsening symptoms of several chronic conditions, such as cancer, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Crohn's disease or schizophrenia.
Probiotics, a natural solution to maintain or restore your intestinal microbiota
Contribution of probiotics, a varied and balanced diet, a healthy lifestyle and moderation of sporting activity are all natural solutions to take care of your health. intestinal culture of microorganisms.
The intake of probiotics through food supplements is indeed particularly judicious when you want to restore or simply maintain your intestinal microbiota. Some manufacturers offer products containing a variety of living microorganisms, generally strains of bacteria or yeast intended to rebalance the existing flora. These food supplements are coated in the gastro-resistant capsules, which allows them to resist gastric juices and bile salts found in the digestive tract.
The basic strains used are yeasts, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli (bifidus, helveticus, rahmnosus, longnum, saccharomyces, etc.). They have a lifespan of 1 to 3 weeks in the intestinal environment.
To obtain beneficial effects for the functioning of the organism, probiotics must be taken regularly and in sufficient quantity. As soon as they are ingested, the elements interact with the host's microbiota by adhering to the cells of the intestinal lining. However, any probiotic cure should normally be subject to the advice of a physician. Indeed, each organism has a specific floral composition. A medical analysis carried out beforehand by a specialist will be judicious to determine the exact nature and the rate of presence of each strain of microorganisms present in your intestines.
It will then be possible to identify your possible excess (strains whose number of individuals is higher than the average) and deficiencies (strains whose number of individuals is considerably reduced). In addition to these indications, you should be aware that sometimes your genetic characteristics and medical history may come into play. By following the recommendations of a pharmacist or your doctor, you ensure that you consume effective probiotic strains and adapted to your organization.
In addition, the optimal dosage is indicated to you and may be modified depending on the results obtained. Note that fermented yogurts, certain cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, gouda, Roquefort, Camembert, etc.) and fermented vegetables are probiotic foods. Fermented soy derivatives, apple cider vinegar, fermented drinks based on kefir or kombucha are also concerned. Consuming them often is therefore beneficial for health, even if the quantitative intake of these foods is not as high as that of food supplements.
An adequate diet for the intake of prebiotics
Prebiotics are soluble fibers that can resist digestion and assimilation in the small intestine. If they are ingested in sufficient quantity, they are then used as food for good bacteria of the gut microbiota, thus participating in their growth and proliferation. We are talking here about complex chain polysaccharides such as starch, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS) or glycosaminoglycans. Mucins, hemicelluloses, pectins are also concerned.
Fruits, vegetables, legumes and some plants are the foods richest in prebiotics. Mention may in particular be made of asparagus, garlic, wheat, rye, zucchini, artichokes, onions, bananas, watermelon, leeks, endives, salsify, chicory root and oats. It is not a question of abusing them, but of associating them with a balanced diet every day. With this in mind, excessive consumption of sugars or fatty substances, as well as the adoption of a high protein diet, should be avoided to maintain the balance of the intestinal microbiota. You should also not abuse the consumption of products containing artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors.
The importance of taking care of your personal hygiene
Alcohol and the natural and chemical components of cigarettes are likely to cause dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota. Thus, it makes sense to avoid excessive consumption of these products. Likewise, it's important to get rest as soon as possible, while making sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep per day. You should avoid as much as possible any situation that could plunge you into an almost permanent state of stress. Moderate sports activity for 1 to 3 days a week is also very beneficial.
You should know that the intensive practice of sport disrupts the balance of the microbiota, because it leads to a redirection of the main blood flows to the muscles, the heart and the brain. This causes the intestine to be deprived of oxygen during exercise, but suddenly becomes supplied with oxygen again at the end of the exercise. The oxidative stress thus caused particularly attacks intestinal cells essentially composed of the good bacteria of the microbiota.
This does not mean that all practitioners of intensive sport systematically have a devastated intestinal flora, because the capacity of adaptation to the physical effort of each organism is unique. However, following the advice of a sports doctor, it may be wise to follow a symbiotic cure (association of the consumption of prebiotics with that of probiotics) to gradually re-colonize the intestinal microbiota by " good microorganisms" page (in French).
Antibiotic-based treatments to avoid as much as possible
If powerful broad-spectrum antibiotics allow us to cure many ailments, they are also enemies of the intestinal microbiota. Indeed, they destroy all kinds of bacteria, both good and bad. Unless explicitly indicated by your pharmacist or doctor, treatments based on such pharmaceutical products are therefore not encouraged. If you absolutely must take antibiotics, then it is advisable to follow a symbiotic cure to reduce the devastating effects of taking antibiotics.
For the protection of the organism and the good progress of digestion, it is important to maintain the intestinal microbiota. Taking prebiotics or probiotics through foods and supplements, as well as a healthy lifestyle, are great ways to do this.