Our gut and how it works
The intestinal microflora is composed of more than 500 different bacterial species that live in a delicate balance among themselves and with the human body. The colon is the region of our gut where there is the highest concentration of bacteria, between 10 and 100 billion bacteria/ml of feces material considering an average total contents of 1500 ml of feces material.
The intestinal microflora is very important for our health because it is able to:
- fight against pathogenic bacteria through a mechanism of competition and the production of antibacterial substances (bacteriocine, H²O², lactic acid, etc,);
- produce short chain fatty acids, the most important nourishment for enteric cells;
- produce vitamins (K, B1, B6,B12, folic acid, pantotenic acid, etc,) which play an important role in different metabolic reactions;
- modulate the maturation of the host’s innate and adoptive immune responses (80% of the immune system is localised in the gut).
Many different factors can influence the balance of intestinal microflora:
- way of living
- use of antibiotics or chemotherapy agents
- renal or hepatic illnesses
- inflammatory bowel diseases
The alteration of balance of intestinal microflora causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramps, excess gas, bloating, change in bowel habits such as harder, looser or more urgent stools than normal.