Table of contents:

  1. What is the microbiota?
  2. What is its function?
  3. Pathologies associated with the microbiota
  4. Treatment
  5. Medical specialists

What is the microbiota?

The microbiota, also known as intestinal flora, microflora or human flora, is the set of living microorganisms or bacteria found in the intestine or digestive tract of the human organism.

The existence of these intestinal bacteria is very beneficial for the development of the immune system, as well as for human behavior and mood. In fact, the bacteria in our gut are not bad, as the development of the immune system depends on them.

The microbiota is acquired from the moment we are born and remains stable until the age of 3 years. From that moment on, modifications in the intestinal flora can occur due to different dietary changes maintained over time.

However, although the microbiota is relatively stable, it can vary from one individual to another or even within the same individual. This is due to different factors that can produce transitory changes, such as the following:

  • Type of diet
  • Infections
  • Antibiotic intake
  • Stress

Function of the microbiota

The microbiota or intestinal flora is formed by a group of bacteria that contribute to a good state of health, due to their nutritional, protective and immunomodulatory functions.

In this sense, it prevents intestinal infections and keeps the immune system alert, stimulating the production of defenses constantly. More specifically, the microbiota performs a number of useful functions for the organism:

  • It participates in the production of energy and vitamins, such as vitamin K and some of the B complex.
  • It has a role in the regulation of metabolism, because it helps to digest food that could not be digested in the small intestine or stomach.
  • It regulates and strengthens the immune system.
  • It fights aggressions from other microorganisms to maintain the integrity of the mucosa.
  • Regulates the secretion of intestinal neurotransmitters, insulin and peptides essential for vital processes.
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Pathologies that the microbiota may suffer

The microbiota is strongly related to the development of different intestinal and inflammatory diseases, constipation or celiac disease. However, it is also related to other types of pathologies such as obesity, asthma or different cardiovascular diseases.

In fact, there are many diseases that have their origin in the existence of a microbiota disorder, due to an alteration in the type of diet or due to other factors such as age, the consumption of antibiotics, infections or other pathologies.

The main intestinal diseases directly related to the microbiota are the following:

  • Celiac disease, which is a disorder that occurs because of a reaction to gluten intake.
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, which are caused by instability in the microbiota.
  • Acute diarrhea, which may be accompanied by vomiting, fever, nausea and dehydration.
  • Helicobacter Pylori infection, which is a disease that, although usually asymptomatic, can lead to gastritis, stomach cancer and gastric ulcer.
  • Necrotizing entercolitis, which is a common pathology in newborns that can occur due to artificial feeding or prematurity.

Treatments for pathologies of the microbiota

When a pathology affecting the microbiota occurs, action can be taken through fecal transplantation or through the combined intake of probiotics and prebiotics, two substances contained in a large number of foods that are very beneficial for balancing the intestinal flora.

Probiotics improve digestion.

On the one hand, probiotics improve digestion if consumed in adequate amounts and are usually present in yogurts, cheeses, kefir and other fermented foods.

And on the other hand, they also favor the intestinal flora and the absorption of certain minerals, usually found in onions, soybeans, bananas, apples, legumes, leeks, artichokes, seeds and nuts, among others.

See also  Meningitis

In the case of celiac disease, symptoms can be eliminated as soon as gluten is removed from the diet. However, in any case, it is important to control the factors that cause the deterioration of the microbiota.

Specialist who treats the pathologies of the microbiota

The specialist who treats pathologies related to the microbiota is the expert in Digestive Tract.