Everyone wants to be healthy. Staying active is a good way to maintain health. Taking care of your digestive tract is also really important. Human gut flora is composed of 100,000 billions of good bacteria, which is 10 times more than the cells composing your entire body! Among this huge number of bacteria, more than 200 different species are represented. This level of diversity is mandatory to preserve digestive health. Recently, gut flora has been renamed gut microbiota by researchers and is a new flourishing field of study.
Symbiosis: A complex system
Human gut microbiota is essential to our survival as both the human body and the good bacteria in the gut have evolved to work in symbiosis . Mutualist symbiosis is a relationship where both parts have an advantage of working in team with the other. For the good bacteria, they get access to food more easily than if they were left alone in nature. For the humans, they have access to more nutrients because the good bacteria can digest complex fibers which cannot be digested by our gut cells.
Along with the good bacteria, good yeasts (as the ones present in bread or in beer) are present in our gut. The key is to keep a good balance between the different families of bacteria and yeasts to keep a healthy digestion.
How to take care of your microbiota
Gut health is influenced by several factors where the most important are: diet, pharmaceuticals and age. Food ingested has the biggest impact on the diversity of the microbiota since if the bacteria can’t find their favorite food; they will not be present in a huge number. This is supported by researchers that have studied the gut flora of vegetarian vs omnivores (meat-eaters) and found significant differences in the number and families of bacteria .
Pharmaceuticals also have a huge impact on the gut microbiota. Antibiotics are used to kill bad bacteria that infect our body. But they don’t make the difference between good and bad bacteria so they kill a lot of good bacteria too. That’s why it is important to use antibiotics only when it’s necessary.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available from: https://www.britannica.com/science/symbiosis [Accessed 9 November 2020]
- Riaz Rajoka MS et al. Interaction between diet composition and gut microbiota and its impact on gastrointestinal tract health, Food Science and Human Wellness, 2001;6(3):121-130. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213453017300630 [Accessed 9 November 2020]