The intestinal flora, also known as the intestinal microbiota, is a group of bacteria that live and develop in the intestine, being known as the resident microbiota. Although they are bacteria, these microorganisms are good for the body, they evolved over thousands of years to create a beneficial relationship with the intestine.
Therefore, both the person and the bacteria benefit from this relationship. For example, the intestine provides all the material and nutrients necessary for the growth and reproduction of the bacteria, while the bacteria help in the digestion of food, while also creating an intestinal environment that does not allow the development of harmful bacteria that can give rise to illnesses.
Although the intestinal flora is something that arises naturally, it is not always at its optimal levels, and imbalances can arise that facilitate the development of harmful bacteria. Also, it may be necessary to take medication to replenish the levels of these bacteria, which are known as probiotics.
How the intestinal flora arises and evolves
The development of the intestinal flora begins at the time of birth and during the first months of life it is molded, according to the illnesses that the baby contracts, the use of antibiotics and the type of food that he eats.
The first contact of the intestine with the bacteria seems to be during childbirth and for this reason babies who are born by normal vaginal delivery, present a first intestinal flora, different from babies who are born by cesarean section. This occurs because during vaginal delivery, the baby mainly comes into contact with the bacteria of the vaginal canal and the mother’s intestine, while in the cesarean section the main bacteria are found in the mother’s skin and in the hospital environment.
This flora changes and grows until around 2 to 3 years old, at which time it is similar to that of an adult. Therefore, the most important phase of growth and establishment of the flora occurs in early childhood and generally, the bacteria that are present around 3 years will remain for life. However, even though it is more difficult, the flora can also vary throughout life, especially due to the bad lifestyles of adults, for example.
Intestinal flora according to the type of delivery
The main types of bacteria in the intestinal flora of the baby, according to the form of birth, are:
|normal vaginal delivery||cesarean delivery|
Normally, the bacteria acquired during vaginal delivery are more beneficial for the body and because of this, it is possible that the child born through vaginal delivery is less likely to develop chronic diseases than those born through cesarean section, such as asthma or dermatitis, for example. example.
In addition, lactation with maternal milk helps to mold the intestinal flora in the baby, providing nutrients and microorganisms for the development of a more healthy microbiota.
What can affect the intestinal flora
The imbalance of the intestinal flora, also known as dysbiosis, occurs when there are fewer good bacteria in the intestine or when one of these types is in greater number, making digestion difficult and facilitating the development of bad bacteria.
Some of the main causes that lead to the imbalance of the microbiota include:
- Constant use of antibiotics: pues eliminate both bad bacteria and good bacteria;
- Frequent use of laxatives: the exaggerated functioning of the intestine causes the elimination of good bacteria;
- Diet rich in sugar and industrialized products: facilitating the development of bad bacteria;
- low fiber consumption: they are the main food of the good bacteria and because of this when they are in low places, they can affect their development.
When the intestinal flora is very affected, the appearance of symptoms related to the bad functioning of the intestine is common, such as excessive intestinal gas, diarrhea or frequent stress. See other signs that may indicate an altered intestinal flora.
How to replenish the intestinal flora
One of the best ways to maintain a healthy intestinal flora is having a healthy and varied diet, rich in vegetables and vegetables, avoiding the consumption of processed, fried or rich in sugar foods. In addition to this, the consumption of foods rich in fiber such as avena, linaza or frijoles, also helps to maintain a good development of the bacteria of the intestinal flora. See a list of foods rich in fiber.
Another option that should be frequently included in the diet are probiotic foods, which are foods that contain good bacteria that can help to reduce the intestine. Some examples include natural yogurt, kefir or kombucha.
Watch the video for more on probiotic foods:
However, when the intestinal flora is altered, symptoms such as excessive intestinal gas and frequent diarrhea appear, for example, the best way to treat is by taking probiotic drugs.
How to take medicines for the intestinal flora
The drugs that improve the intestinal flora are probiotics. These medicines are small capsules that contain several million live bacteria that are ingested to reach the intestine and help balance the microbiota.
Although probiotics are used more frequently by adults, they can also be used on babies and children, under pediatric supervision, especially in the case of babies who were born by cesarean section and are not breastfeeding. For this, there are probiotics in the form of jarabe, which can be given with food.
There are several types of probiotics, generally, the best are the ones that have the most types of bacteria and the greatest number. However, it is always advisable to consult a gastroenterologist or a naturopath to find out which is the best for each case, and that different types of probiotics can be used to treat different health problems.
See what the main types of probiotics are and when they are used.
When to take medicines for the intestinal flora
Probiotics are generally used when symptoms of intestinal flora imbalance arise, however, they can also be used at the same time as antibiotics are being treated, for example, to replace the microbiota that is being eliminated and prevent the appearance of diarrhea.
In addition, probiotics are important during intestinal infections, such as gastroenteritis, as they help to restore the intestinal flora, accelerating recovery.
In people with chronic stress or frequent diarrhea, the use of probiotics for a period of 2 to 3 months, 2 times a year, will help to regulate the intestine and improve its functioning.
Benefits of a healthy intestinal flora
The most known benefits of a healthy intestinal flora consist in improving the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. However, as it protects against bad bacteria, the microbiota also helps to strengthen the immune system, reducing the frequency of the appearance of diseases.
In more recent studies, the intestinal flora has been identified as an important regulator of the production of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which improves the feeling of well being and combats depression.
Therefore, maintaining a healthy intestinal microbiota seems to be a good way to guarantee a better general health, not being related to the functioning of the intestine.
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