Intestinal flora


The intestinal flora is a rather complex system consisting of several billions of microorganisms. So far more than 1000 different bacterial species could be detected in the human gut inhabiting mostly the colon and partly also the small intestine. These microorganisms have great influence on our health, and an intact intestinal flora prevents colonization with pathogens and their spreading. Furthermore, these bacteria constantly stimulate the human immune system thereby reinforcing the body’s defense.
The microorganisms are able to utilize food that could not be metabolized completely by the human body. Thus, they support basic functions of the digestive tract and have a positive impact on metabolism. Diet plays an important role in the composition of the intestinal microbiome. An unhealthy lifestyle with an inadequate diet can change the intestinal flora leading to animbalance in the bacterial variety. This so-called dysbiosis may entail health impairments. Afflicted persons suffer from flatulence, obstipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and thus have a restricted quality of life.
For those reasons maintenance of the intestinal flora is of fundamental importance. Initial studies with children and older adults showed a positive influence of probiotics on the balance of the intestinal flora. Probiotics include the lactic acid fermenting bacterial species Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium bifidum. The consumption of probiotics can also induce the synthesis of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) which mediates a variety of protective functions of the mucosa and restricts inflammatory reactions of the intestinal wall. Studies with patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome showed a positive change in symptoms and an increased quality of life after probiotics consumption.
We support research groups studying the influence of diet on the intestinal flora and the impact of an impaired bacterial flora on the development of food intolerances.