What is the microbiota and what functions does it have?

The microbiota is the set of living microorganisms or bacteria that inhabit our intestine. It is commonly known as intestinal flora and has a great relevance in the functioning of the whole organism.

There are studies that validate that the microbiota begins to be acquired at birth itself, so that being born by cesarean section or by natural childbirth already conditions our microbiota.

For example, babies born by cesarean section do not receive lactobacillus, which are the first microorganisms we receive at birth through the mother’s vagina.

The rest of the microbiota is formed over the years. During the first years of life, special attention must be paid to the food and drugs that are ingested, since they will have an impact on the adult microbiota of that person.

Excessive intake of drugs will leave an imprint on the composition of the microbiota, just as drinking breast milk will be a benefit.

This set of microorganisms has a fundamental role in the basic functions of our organism:

  • It regulates and strengthens the functioning of the immune system.
  • It regulates the metabolism because it helps the digestion of certain foods that have not been degraded in the small intestine or stomach.
  • Promotes energy balance because it participates in the production of energy and vitamins (vitamin K and B12 complex).
  • Protects against pathogenic bacteria that can cause diseases (protective barrier against pathogenic microorganisms, carcinogenic substances, toxic metals, chemicals and parasites).
  • Regulates secretion of intestinal neurotransmitters related to the gut-brain axis

What can alter the microbiota?

  • Food
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Diet is the main factor that has an impact on the microbiota. Depending on our diet or the region we live in, we will have one microbiota or another: “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what type of microbiota you have”.

For example, people living in Southeast Asia have a richer and more diverse microbiota, while those living in the United States have a less diverse microbiota and are not able to digest a variety of fibers.

Food is a major conditioning factor due to the amount of additives in processed and ultra-processed products that we consume too often.

  • Drugs and toxins

Antibiotics have the function of killing the bad bacteria that harm us but, in this mission, they also eliminate many bacteria that protect us, such as bifidobacteria.

On the other hand, laxatives, benzodiazepines, antihistamines, antidepressants and a long list of drugs can also damage the microbiota and cause intestinal dysbiosis or microbiota imbalance.

  • Other factors

Today’s society, and especially the younger ones, are accustomed to big cities and to an overprotection that, without realizing it, produces the opposite effect.

A very clear example is that of the Amish communities, who have much less allergies and asthma than children living in cities. Natural dirt protects us, its bacteria are beneficial for our organism. Although it sounds crazy to say it, children should be allowed to get dirty and live with nature more often. They are in no danger.

Stress, lack of physical activity and lack of sleep can also be the cause of intestinal dysbiosis.

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What are the consequences of microbiota alteration?

Intestinal dysbiosis is the imbalance of the microbiota or set of microorganisms that inhabit the intestine.

One of the main consequences is the increased permeability of the intestine, which allows the passage of substances or bacteria from our intestine to the rest of the body. It is for this reason that starts an inflammation process that should not be.

There are many other consequences that depend on different factors. To list them without taking them into account would be a mistake, since it is necessary to study each case in a personalized way and in detail.

  • Genetics
  • Causes and type of dysbiosis
  • Environmental factor and its toxic substances
  • Medical history
  • Nutritional factors
  • Stress

How can we maintain a healthy microbiota?

By controlling in moderation the factors that alter it. Having a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, physical exercise, drinking water, interacting with nature and other people, moderating the intake of drugs.

Colon hydrotherapy is a natural prevention method that consists of cleaning the walls of the intestine, with previously filtered water, which helps us to avoid intestinal dysbiosis, that is to say, the alteration of the microbiota.

With two annual or maintenance sessions, we eliminate retained feces and pathological bacteria, so we do not let them affect our organism and cause dysbiosis.