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Microbiome: The importance of intestinal flora for our health

Our intestinal health plays a crucial role in our well-being. A healthy gut is the key to a strong immune defence and efficient digestion. Around 80 % of our immune responses originate in the gut, which is why the health of this organ is of crucial importance.

Dr Paul Hammer has a PhD in systems biology and bioinformatics and has always been driven by a desire to explore the world. As a visionary, he is part of the health movement for more prevention to help us humans avoid getting sick in the first place. In his book “The Gut Compass – Everything you need to know about the underestimated gut” he not only discusses basic knowledge, diseases, nutritional trends, etc., he also lays the foundation for today’s topic – the microbiome.

THE MULTIFACETED ROLE OF THE GUT

Our gut is more than just a digestive organ. It plays a crucial role in the utilisation of food, the defence against toxins and pathogens and the regulation of our immune system. The gut harbours a diverse community of microorganisms that support us in various bodily functions.

“An intact intestinal barrier is very important in order to optimally utilise food and supply it to the organism.”

THE FASCINATING WORLD OF GUT BACTERIA

Billions of bacteria, fungi and viruses populate our gut and form a complex community that has evolved with us over millions of years. These microorganisms fulfil a variety of tasks, including supporting food absorption, regulating the immune system and protecting against harmful pathogens.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MICROBIOME AND GUT FLORA

The microbiome is a generic term for the totality of all microorganisms in and on our body. The intestinal flora, also known as the gut microbiome, is the best-known group of these microorganisms. In addition to the gut, there is also skin flora, oral flora and many other microbiomes in our body.

“The microbiome analysis shows you which foods you should integrate into your diet to colonise certain bacterial strains.”

THE PREBIOTICS, PROBIOTICS AND POSTBIOTICS

The terms prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics are often used in connection with gut health. Prebiotics are nutrients that are utilised by gut bacteria to produce energy. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live in our guts, and postbiotics are the substances produced by these bacteria that have various functions in the body.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MICROBIOME FOR OUR HEALTH

Our microbiome has an influence on our ability to extract energy from food and make it available to the body. The composition of our microbiome influences how well we can absorb and utilise food components.

THE EFFECTS OF ANTIBIOTICS ON THE MICROBIOME

Antibiotics are effective against harmful bacteria, but they can also affect the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Prolonged and excessive use of antibiotics can lead to a disturbed intestinal flora. It is important to rebuild the intestinal flora after antibiotic treatment.

“Antibiotics are a broad-spectrum poison for all bacteria, not just the harmful ones.”

THE ROLE OF DIET AND LIFESTYLE

Our diet and lifestyle play a crucial role in shaping our microbiome. A balanced diet and exposure to a diverse environment are important to promote a healthy microbiome.

THE INFLUENCE OF BIRTH ON THE MICROBIOME

The timing of first contact with the microbiome plays a significant role in our gut health. During birth, newborns have their first contact with the mother’s microorganisms, which lays the foundation for their gut health. Natural birth and breastfeeding help to build the baby’s microbiome.

CHALLENGES AND DISEASES OF THE GUT

Various factors, including genetic predisposition, diet, environment and stress, can lead to gut problems. These include lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.

“The intestinal barrier is crucial in preventing toxins and microorganisms from entering the body and causing other diseases.”

THE CARE OF INTESTINAL HEALTH

There are various ways to support gut health. These include the targeted intake of probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics, a balanced diet, minimising stress and avoiding excessive use of antibiotics. It is important to consult a doctor if you have problems with your gut health in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

FAQ ON THE MICROBIOME

1 What is the microbiome?

The microbiome is the totality of all microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses and others, that live on and in a multicellular host, such as the human body. It is a diverse community that colonises different parts of the body, including the gut, skin and other regions.

2 How large is the microbiome compared to the human body?

Although the human body accounts for about 99% of the biomass in this community, the number of microorganisms in relation to the number of human cells is about 1:1, indicating that the microbiome plays a significant role.

3 What role does the microbiome play in our health?

The microbiome plays a crucial role in digestion, protection against pathogens and the development of the immune system. It helps to ward off pathogenic germs and trains the immune system. A healthy microflora in the gut makes us less susceptible to dangerous germs.

4 How does the composition of the microbiome influence health?

The composition of the microbiome is variable and is influenced by factors such as diet, immunocompetence and medication. Disturbances in the microbiome, for example due to antibiotics or diseases such as obesity and diabetes, can lead to health problems.

5 How can the microbiome be used for diagnoses?

By analysing the microflora in the mouth, on the skin or in the genital area, doctors can make diagnoses about a patient’s state of health. A healthy or dysfunctional community of microorganisms can draw conclusions about health.

6 Why is the microbiome so important?

The microbiome makes an important contribution to health, but its exact composition and function are not yet fully understood. Much like a complex ecosystem, it is fragile and requires a perfect interplay of different organisms to function.

Sources:

www.helmholtz-hzi.de