Gut flora is the term for the multitude of bacteria that live in our intestines. They are found on the mucosal layer that lines our gut. The bacteria in our intestines weigh about 1-2 kg. These bacteria are vital for the body. They help our bodies to produce vitamins and enzymes and to break down plant-based foods that we wouldn't otherwise be able to digest. Our gut flora also communicates with the immune system and supports the formation of anti-inflammatory neurotransmitters. The gut flora also provides protection against pathogens.
In medical terminology, an imbalanced gut flora is called dysbiosis. This means that pathogenic bacteria have multiplied in the gut. This leads to a change in the bacterial colonisation of the intestines. An imbalanced gut flora can result in inflammatory conditions as well as diarrhoea, constipation or gas. If you are suffering from dysbiosis it's possible to restore a healthy gut flora through a balanced, fibre-rich diet, exercise and probiotics.
Many things can disrupt the balance of the intestinal flora. An unbalanced, low-fibre diet high in fat and sugar has a negative effect on the composition of the gut flora. Exercise also plays a large role in supporting a healthy bacterial balance in the intestine. Antibiotics are a frequent problem. For certain conditions, antibiotic treatment is necessary. But unfortunately antibiotics kill healthy bacteria as well as pathogenic germs in the intestine. Bottle-fed babies and babies born by Caesarean section often suffer from a gut flora imbalance.
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