What is it?
The intestinal microbiota is an ecosystem that is constantly changing, containing trillions of bacteria, continuously shaped by many factors such as eating habits, seasonality, lifestyle, stress, antibiotic use, or diseases. Intestinal health refers to maintaining an adequate number of bacteria beneficial to the body in comparison.
What is intestinal health for?
Keeping the microbiota healthy helps prevent various diseases, since “good” bacteria can control the growth of pathogenic bacteria and compete with them for food. It is also important to keep the intestinal barrier preserved and manage to keep the immune system in good condition. It is important to stress that obesity and related metabolic diseases may promote inflammation and structural and behavioral changes in the intestinal microbiota.
How does intestinal health work?
Dietary components have different effects on the intestinal microbiota: the high consumption of animal proteins, saturated fats, sugar and salt could stimulate the growth of pathogenic bacteria to the detriment of beneficial bacteria, leading to potential changes in the intestinal barrier. The consumption of complex polysaccharides and plant protein may be associated with an increase in the amount of beneficial bacteria, stimulating the production of short-chain fatty acids. In addition, omega-3s, polyphenols and micronutrients seem to have the potential to confer health benefits by modulating the intestinal microbiota.
When do you need to supplement?
In patients with dysbiosis or important changes in the intestinal barrier, supplementation with probiotics may be interesting. Probiotics are safe microorganisms that, when administered at appropriate doses, confer some beneficial effects on the host. As they can have several effects, the professional should delve deeper and know specifically about which the best strain and dose for each case and each specific disease.
Article: Rinninella E, et al. Food Components and Dietary Habits: Keys for a Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2393. Published 2019 Oct 7. doi:10.3390/nu11102393
How does lifestyle affect the microbiota?