The gut, which is rightly regarded as a second brain, is the natural home of billions of microorganisms that make up the intestinal microflora (gut microbiota). It is this flora that helps us maintain our health. It contributes to the proper digestion of food, the proper functioning of the intestines, the synthesis of vitamins and minerals, the strengthening of the intestinal barrier and stimulates our immune system. Its balance is important because while many bacteria living in our bodies are beneficial, others can be harmful. An imbalanced gut flora threatens our entire immune system and can have serious health consequences. 80% of the immune system is located in the gut and its functioning is mainly influenced by the state of our gut flora. If this balance is disturbed, microbes, bacteria, fungi, and other unwanted parasites multiply and make us susceptible to infections and other diseases. Fortunately, there are solutions to strengthen and restore our gut! In this article, Gilmore Health will explain all the benefits of having a healthy gut microbiota, from consuming probiotics and living a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Imbalanced gut flora: what are its causes?
A poor diet can be the cause of an imbalance of gut flora which plays an important role in nutrient absorption and digestion. It breaks down and ferments certain food components, such as fiber or amino acids, which are nutrients that promote the renewal of intestinal cells.
Diets that are too fatty or too sweet, or too high in proteins as well as excessive alcohol consumption, can upset the balance of our gut microbiota.
Bacterial invasion can disrupt the balance of the gut microbiota. In fact, after gastroenteritis, the intestinal flora is weakened, our body has expelled everything it could to defend itself, including the good bacteria. As a result, the composition of the flora changes and therefore no longer has the same ability to defend itself against pathogens. The intestinal barrier can open to invaders and the tolerance system is compromised. This can lead to a range of allergic and inflammatory reactions.
Medications, especially antibiotics, are nefarious to our intestines. Antibiotics destroy all bacteria, including those that protect us. Our gut flora is totally devastated after a regimen of antibiotics.
A polluted environment or an environment rich in toxins can alter the gut flora. This balance can also be significantly affected by an environment of constant stress. Research and medicine have shown that stress causes organic and functional disorders, especially in the digestive system.
Why restore gut flora?
For better digestion
The main role of gut flora is digestion. It contributes to the proper functioning of the intestine by facilitating the absorption of nutrients and contributing to the digestion of fiber, especially fruits and vegetables. An imbalance of the gut flora can cause digestive problems such as bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc. These symptoms of poorly functioning flora disappear when the gut flora is restored.
Gut flora plays a protective role
The gut houses approximately 80% of our immune system. The gut flora is a complex system that allows the good microbes to teach our defenses to fight the bad microbes. Therefore, it helps strengthen the immune defense system by acting as a barrier to prevent the spread of pathogenic bacteria. An imbalance of the gut microbiota, especially in the mucosa, can cause the gut to become more permeable.
The intestinal flora plays a metabolic and physiological role.
The bacteria in our gut microflora contribute to the synthesis of certain vitamins B and K, which are essential for proper body function and are contained in our food. Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting, cardiovascular, and bone protection. B vitamins are involved in the absorption of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and improve cell growth, the nervous system, and the immune system. The gut microbiota is also involved in the metabolism of cholesterol and bile acids. Therefore, if the flora is weakened, its metabolic and physiological functions will also be less efficient and the body as a whole will suffer the consequences.
Intestinal flora plays a preventive role
The intestinal flora allows the assimilation of vitamins and minerals and protects us from inflammatory phenomena and the development of pathological conditions such as osteoporosis.
A healthy intestinal flora acts as a real barrier so that inflammatory molecules do not enter the general circulation.
How can you restore your gut flora?
Improve your lifestyle
The first step to restoring your gut flora is a healthy lifestyle. A diet high in sugar or fat, drinking too much coffee, and smoking are all excesses that you need to avoid in your daily life.
It is also important to engage in regular physical activity to stay fit and reduce stress.
Probiotics are microorganisms or bacteria that complement the intestinal flora. Eaten regularly and in sufficient quantities, probiotics are live bacteria that strengthen our gut flora. These bacteria are naturally present in our bodies and we get them in part from food.
Lactic acid bacteria are among the most important probiotics. Their common name comes from the fact that they produce lactic acid. They include lactobacilli (bacteria in the genus Lactobacillus), bifidobacteria (bacteria in the genus Bifidobacterium), and some streptococci (bacteria in the genus Streptococcus).
Probiotic foods: The best known is fermented yogurt. Sauerkraut, fermented soy products, kefir, and dairy products are foods rich in probiotics.
Probiotics in dietary supplements: only products that provide at least 9 billion bacteria per intake have an effect on the intestinal flora. They are available in powder or capsule form. Brewer’s yeast also a probiotic contains non-pathogenic microscopic fungi that digest sugar and starch from grains, creating an environment rich in protein and vitamins, especially B vitamins.
A prebiotic has the ability to help increase the growth and activity of probiotics. It is a soluble fiber that has the distinction of not being digested in the small intestine, so it serves as a preferred food for probiotics. These are primarily fructooligosaccharides (FOS) or galactooligosaccharides (GOS).
If you’re taking probiotics, you also need to take a prebiotic to repopulate your gut flora with good bacteria.
Wheat, barley, rye, asparagus, garlic, artichokes, onions, and bananas are prebiotic foods rich in FOS and GOS that feed probiotics.
A balanced diet
For probiotic bacteria to survive, multiply and destroy harmful microorganisms in the gut flora, you need good quality food in sufficient quantities.
Some foods help keep the gut flora in balance. Eat plenty of fruits, cooked vegetables, and whole grains and limit red meat and sausages rich in saturated fatty acids.
Also, limit sugar and fatty foods such as cream and butter. It is also important to eat slowly and chew your food well to make sure the nutrients are better absorbed.
Take Saccharomyces Boulardii with antibiotics
Antibiotics disrupt the balance of the quantity and diversity of gut bacteria and thus the gut flora. Antibiotics are actually very useful in fighting infections, but they do not distinguish between good and bad bacteria. To limit their effect on the digestive system, it is recommended to consume the yeast Saccharomyces Boulardii, which has been shown to be effective in reducing the incidence of diarrhea while taking antibiotics.
The intestinal flora is a veritable ecosystem inhabited by more than 100,000 billion bacteria. The balance of gut flora affects our body and its ability to effectively fight aggressions that can alter our immune system. Taking probiotics in combination with a rich and varied diet is the solution to restore our intestinal flora and thus strengthen our immunity and therefore our health.