The intestinal flora: More important than previously thought
The intestinal flora is a control center for various interlocking biological systems including the immune system, metabolism and neurobiology. This ecosystem’s health is integral to the healthy functioning of the host. Ecologically, in other words, we are part human part microbial soup.
The totality of host (human) and microbial (symbiotic) genes is called hologenome; it is influenced and shaped by our environment. All multicellular organisms including animals, plants and fungi have a symbiotic relationship with microbes and all animals with a digestive system have a unique intestinal flora. Plants do not have intestinal bacteria but bacteria and fungi are present on the stems, leaves and roots.
New research shows that the relationship between our own cells and those of microbes is different than previously thought. Instead of the commonly cited ratios of 100:1 and 10:1, it has recently been set at 1:1, meaning that humans are composed of as many microbial as human cells!
Intestinal flora as a therapeutic target
The intestinal flora has become a valuable therapeutic target because it is relatively easy to influence. Notwithstanding, it remains challenging to understand precisely how internal and external factors affect microbiomic composition, functioning and interaction with human hosts. Fortunately, the intestinal flora is a popular subject of study of which we gradually getting to know more.
Influencing the intestinal flora
The intestinal flora can most easily, and possibly most effectively, be influenced by dietary interventions or by taking food supplements. Fortunately, the intestinal flora reacts very quickly to changes, such that many adjustments may have rapid effects.
Superfoods and flora
But be careful! Not all dietary supplements or dietary tweaks contribute to a healthy intestinal flora. Take chlorella or spirulina. These popular superfoods are not suitable for everyone. They contain endotoxins and Gram-negative bacteria. These bacteria produce toxins which may be problematic as they may disturb the intestinal balance. So for some it is wise to stay off the chlorella and spirulina while working on optimizing intestinal health.
Probiotics and prebiotics to the rescue
Eating enough fiber and fermented foods or choosing a good probiotic and prebiotic product is important for microbial robustness and diversity. A recent study shows that a diet that does not provide enough fiber affects intestinal flora tremendously. The good news is that the resulting decline in microbial diversity is reversible once fibers are added back into the diet. However, these changes are not reversible if fiber shortage extends over several generations. Taking good care of your gut flora now is not only good for yourself but also for your children, grandchildren and generations to come!
Pre- and probiotics package
Give your gut flora a quick boost with our pre- and probiotics package (linked below). These prebiotic fibers nourish the intestinal flora optimally so that favorable microbes multiply and perform optimally in the intestines. Our fermented probiotic kefir contains more than 40 different types of microorganisms, helping you build and maintain healthy levels of diversity. This one-two punch can be used as a single short-time booster or over a more extended period of time.