Gut Micro Flora / Bacteria:
ur Gut Microflora gets established in the first three years of our life from exposure and contact with our mother and others
in the surrounding environment. Our microbiomes are relatively small when we are infants, but grow both in numbers and diversity as we interact with our environment. The food we eat, the surfaces we touch, the people we encounter, all affect our microbiomes.
The mouth is the gateway to the body. More than 500 species of bacteria inhabit the mouth. Some as foes, linked to problems like gum disease, others as friends and are key to the health of the lungs and digestive tract.
We swallow many billions of living bacteria every day. They thrive on raw food, a few survive on cooked food, we nibble on our fingers without even thinking about it, we swallow our own mouth bacteria, or kiss our way through the bacterial landscapes of others. A small proportion even survive the acid bath of the stomach and the aggressive digestive process, to reach our large intestine alive.
Two people in regular contact – married couples for instance – may have 90 percent of their microbe in common, but strangers may share only 10 percent of their microbiomes.
Our gut is said to contain over a few thousands of species of bacteria. Only a small portion of the bacteria in the body has the potential to be harmful. Good bacteria provide many health benefits.
We are just beginning to learn a little about the majority of these bacteria – most presumably do us no harm, or perhaps even benefit us in some way we have not yet fully discovered. Only a fraction of these bacteria have been thoroughly checked out by scientists and given the official seal of ‘good’. These bacteria can proudly call themselves probiotics. Helpful bacteria are an important part of our life.
Good bacteria do us good. They can help us live longer and healthier. The best researched good bacteria to date are lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacilli and Bifido bacteria) and saccharomyces boulardii which is yeast. Yeast is not affected by antibiotics, but increase in yeast colonies due to vacant spaces caused by antibiotics can cause side effects in those who have intolerance to it.
Why is obesity much more common today than it was even a few decades ago?
As Guilia Enders notes in her book ‘Gut – the inside story of our Body’s most under rated organ’, researchers are starting to find bacterial clues that may point to an answer. There has been a profound shift in the populations of the many thousands of species of bacteria that live in our digestive tracts, and studies show the changes as correlated with increased obesity. Our gut is an active eco system and is our largest interface with the environment, easily about 100 times greater than that of our skin.