The gut basics – the microbiome
If we think about what the human body does every day and what complex biochemical processes it accomplishes, one can rightly say that our body is a marvel of nature. We humans like to define ourselves by our talents and abilities and perceive our body as an individual unit. A unit that, in our perception, functions completely independently and self-sufficiently. Well, recent research has shown that humans are much more than an individual entity, humans are a walking ecosystem..
In fact, billions of microorganisms, also called microbes, live on or in our bodies. These include bacteria, fungi, viruses and other organisms. Hard-working little helpers that we should not dismiss as our body cannot function optimally without them. The majority of microorganisms live in the gut, in the large intestine, to be precise. The different populations of bacteria are referred to as intestinal flora or microbiota, whereas microbiome is the name for all microorganisms including their genes. Confusing Yes, because the definitions overlap and the two terms are often used interchangeably. To illustrate this a little: when we talk about specific microorganisms such as the beneficial probiotics bifidobacteria or lactobacilli, we are talking about the microbiota or the intestinal flora. And when we refer to the microbiome, we are talking about the approximately 100 billion bacteria in our gut, which are made up of 400-1800 different strains and can easily have a total mass of 2kg! Which means that the microbiome makes up about 1-3% of our body weight. Quite a lot!chön viel!
And why do we need the microorganisms The microbes take on a variety of tasks and support our intestines by strengthening the immune system, breaking down nutrients, producing vitamins and hormones and providing protection against pathogens. Research has also proven that a secret dialogue takes place between the gut and the brain, also known as the gut-brain axis. That means: the intestine has a whole range of tasks and is not just busy with digestion. The microbiome is therefore often regarded as another organ and referred to as the second brain.ichnet.
In order to stay healthy and fit, we need to maintain this delicate balance in the microbiome. Microorganisms are easy to manipulate, meaning they react quickly to changing circumstances and adapt. Although science is still in its infancy and has not yet explored all the secrets of the microbiome, we all know today that a balanced diet consisting of the five food groups is not only beneficial to our health, but also meets our nutrient needs. Well the Big Five of the food groups are vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins and dairy. Well, unfortunately, chocolate is not on the list and, conversely, if you eat mainly high-calorie, low-fiber and processed foods, this also damages the intestinal flora in the long term. To put this in perspective, unless you're a vegetable, there's no need for cellulolytic bacteria to break down cellulose. These bacteria then die off and an imbalance arises, which also means less diversity at the same time. This creates a free space that can quickly be colonized by unfavorable bacteria. If the balance is out of joint in this way, we speak of intestinal dysbiosis. Impaired gut health can trigger allergies and autoimmune reactions, and can also lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes or gastrointestinal disorders. But there are also many other factors that influence our intestinal flora, for example how we were born, our environment, our genes, stress or medication such as antibiotics.ika.
Knowing that microorganisms react so quickly to changes clearly gives us a great advantage. We can easily do something for our health by making small changes in our lives and changing our diet. For example, by eating high-fiber foods; Foods that contain the gut-friendly prebiotics and probiotics. And what's the difference? Prebiotics are a type of fiber that the human body cannot digest and probiotics are living organisms such as bifidobacteria or lactobacilli. Or to put it very simply: prebiotics are the nutritional basis for probiotics. Chicory, bananas, asparagus, onions, garlic, leeks, apples and almonds are particularly rich in prebiotic fiber. And fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha are excellent sources of probiotics. And although a balanced diet should be the priority, dietary supplements with bifidobacteria and lactobacilli can support a healthy intestinal flora and also promote the regeneration of intestinal bacteria..