Our Digestive System and Intestinal Microflora:
As the food enters the stomach it is flushed with acids and enzymes to break it down. As digestion begins, nutrients such as protein, fat, fibre and carbohydrates are released in smaller particles and transported to the digestive tract and from there, to the blood stream as nutrients or to the colon, in the case of waste. This is a huge task. Our digestive system processes (in food and drink) equate to approximately the weight of 70 tonnes in an average human lifetime.
Our digestive tract is lined with more than 400 species of bacteria, approximately 100 trillion in total, weighing close to 2kg of our body weight. These micro-organisms make up our ntestinal flora. Some are friendly and have a symbiotic arrangement with our bodies such as the bacteria found in our kefir. Others are pathogenic (the bad bacteria) and can result in infections and disease, such as streptococcus, causing throat infection. Others like E coli are peaceful citizens of our colon that, on occasion, turn on us.
Typically as in the universal battle of good versus evil, the bacteria in our digestive tract are in constant battle for survival and space with each other. We all agree on who we want to win this cosmic struggle. When the pathogenic bad bacteria has the upper hand (superior numbers and colonies) our immune system suffers and we become susceptible to any incoming infections or viruses, or allow fertile ground for long term chronic ailments.
Without microflora, our entire digestive system would collapse after eating an unwashed piece of fruit. Intestinal microflora makes it possible to
- Fight off toxic bacteria such as Salmonella
- Pass waste matter efficiently through the body
- Ultimately regulate the health of our immune system
- Assist in vitamin synthesis
Consider this point of view on improving mood. “We have a “second brain” in our GI tract. You have more nerve-endings in your GI tract than you do in your brain. So when there’s ineffective digestion, you can experience irritability, or even depression. With proper digestion you can improve your mood and mental health”.
Lactic bacteria stimulates our immune defences
Disturbances in the ecological balance in the gut leads to the growth of harmful bacteria and to their possible translocation to internal organs, which induce disease.
Beneficially acting lactic bacteria (LAB) positively influences the immune system of the host.
The protection of the mucous membranes of the GI tract is ensured through local immunity defence mechanisms. This development is dependent on the direct contact of the host with antigens (a substance capable of inducing a specific immune response) from the outside environment.
The indigenous microflora joins in immune exclusion and protects the host from the adhesion of pathogens through competition for substrates and places of adhesion. These bacteria produce antibacterial sub¬stances and they stimulate the production of specific antibodies.
These bacteria influence the distribution and the numbers of lymphoid cells in lymphatic tissues associated with the gut, ensuring the balance in the composition of the gut microflora, and through their activity, are able to maintain the integrity of the gut mucous membrane.