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4 reasons to keep your intestinal flora healthy

by Naturopathes de La Boite à Grains 05 Jun 2024 0 comments
4 raisons pour maintenir votre flore intestinale en bonne santé - La Boite à Grains

We're in the age of discovery when it comes to gut health. Numerous studies on the microbiota (gut flora) are emerging, and our understanding of its importance is growing all the time.

To better understand the impact of intestinal flora (microbiota) on health, here are 4 reasons to keep your intestinal flora healthy.

But first ...

What is the microbiota?

The microbiota is the set of organisms (microbes, bacteria, yeasts) that live together in a living being. In humans, we generally refer to the intestinal microbiota, home to over 100,000 billion bacteria.1

These organisms live in symbiosis and contribute to the maintenance of good health. The intestinal flora is highly sensitive, however, and reacts to a number of imbalances: poor diet, stress, medication, hormonal changes, alcohol consumption, etc. These imbalances have a major impact on the intestinal microbiota. The effect of these imbalances is to deplete the good colonies of bacteria (probiotics) and multiply the bad colonies (pathogens). This condition, known as intestinal dysbiosis, leads to health problems.2,3

Here are 4 reasons to maintain a healthy intestinal flora.

Intestinal flora promotes healthy digestion

Bacteria play an important role important role in digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

They break down dietary fibers that would otherwise be indigestible to humans. This in turn promotes intestinal transit and the growth of beneficial bacteria.

In addition, the microbiota is involved in the production of certain essential amino acids, including tryptophan, the precursor of serotonin and melatonin. These two neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) regulate mood and sleep. Beneficial bacteria also produce vitamins (B, K), fatty acids and enzymes. 4,5,6

A healthy microbiota also ensures the proper functioning of the intestinal barrier, preventing porous bowel syndrome.7

Conversely, when bacterial stability is disrupted, there is an increase in a variety of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, chronic inflammation, allergies, inflammatory bowel disorders and colorectal cancer.7,8,9,10,11

Intestinal flora supports the immune system

To fully understand the role of the microbiota on immune health, we must first understand that the digestive tract is a kind of extension of the skin. The digestive tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus and various parts of the intestine, is therefore outside the body, although this may seem incredible.

The bacteria inside this tube have the ability to modulate our immune system and boost its defenses. This is partly due to the fact that 80% of human immune cells are found in the intestines.13 The microbiota and the immune system have a system of communication and information exchange that enables them to combat potential enemies.14

In addition, the intestinal flora can secrete various agents (fatty acids, hydrogen peroxide) which act in a protective capacity while stimulating immune cells. It has been shown that several strains of intestinal bacteria can increase the presence of immune cells and direct them.15

Finally, healthy bacteria (probiotics) stimulate the production of intestinal mucus, which acts as a microbial barrier against potential invaders.

Intestinal flora helps maintain a healthy weight

Obesity is a widespread problem. Although this metabolic disorder is multifactorial, studies of gut microbiology have shown that gut health has a role to play.

From birth and throughout childhood, several factors influence the composition of the microbiota: vaginal or caesarean birth, medication, breastfeeding or non-breastfeeding, and exposure to environmental microbes (soil, air, water). These factors shape the determinants of intestinal flora.

Consequently, not all humans have the same flora, nor the same intestinal health. In some people, specific bacterial colonies have the capacity to store more fat reserves.16

Thus, the composition of the intestinal flora could play a role in the manifestation of weight disorders. Obesity must therefore be tackled holistically, by establishing good intestinal health.

Intestinal flora ensures good mental health

Since the publication of the book The Second Brain "published in 1999, the concept that the intestine acts as a second brain has become widespread. The author of this book, Dr. Gershon, popularized the idea that the intestinal tract is home to many thousands of nerve cells (neurons), and that these have effects on mood and well-being as important as those of the main brain.17

To this day, many questions remain unanswered about the brain-gut axis. However, a number of studies show that the microbiota is likely to help prevent mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.18,19

Keeping your intestinal flora healthy

To maintain good intestinal health, you need to eat a varied diet rich in fruit and vegetables, whole grains and/or sprouts, and avoid over-consumption of processed foods, meat, sugar, coffee and alcohol. From time to time, the intestinal flora can be strengthened by taking probiotics.

Opt for Bio-K+a 100% probiotic product from Quebec whose health benefits have been documented in numerous scientific studies. Bio-K+ offers delicious probiotic beverages with some vegan options in various flavors, as well as more traditional probiotics. Our products Bio-K+ products are available at La Boîte à grains stores.

Visit the Bio-K+ blog for more information.

We wish you good health!

About the author

Naturopaths of La Boite à Grains

Team of licensed and certified naturopaths (ND) in Gatineau, Outaouais.

Original article written by Véronique Cousineau, Naturopath

Medical Disclaimer

This article is for informational purposes only. Always consult your physician and/or pharmacist before discontinuing any medication. If you are taking medication, it's best to check with a healthcare professional to see if there are any interactions with natural health products. If in doubt, consult a licensed naturopath who has access to drug/supplement interaction databases.


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