Micro-organisms colonize different regions of the human body, from the skin to the oral and nasal cavities, to the digestive and urogenital systems. The vast majority of microbes reside in the intestinal tract1. This powerful system is home to a bacterial complex and dynamic population; a human microbiota exerting a significant influence on the health of the host2. The digestive tract represents one of the largest interfaces (an area of 250 to 400 square meters) between humans and their environment2. Throughout life, about 60 tons of food (with external bacteria) will pass through this channel, constituting a constant threat to intestinal integrity2. These numbers seem extraordinary, but that’s how many human and bacterial cells are in our bodies.
Several factors contribute to the development of the microbiota during early childhood. Then, throughout life, diet is considered one of the most important factors affecting the intestinal flora2. Our intestinal bacteria play a crucial role in maintaining the immune system and our metabolic balance, in addition it protects us against numerous pathogenic bacteria2. Fortunately, it is possible to restore the favorable bacterial flora in the body, by two means: by incorporating prebiotics to our menu and by supplementing your diet with probiotics3. Even better if both tactics combine their efforts, for double complementarity… in other words, a bacterial “symbiosis”.
The food approach
Our diet affects the composition of the gut microbiota and other parts of the body. The western diet is high in fat of all kinds and is a concentrated source of simple sugars without providing much fiber. These dietary tendencies cause the depletion of metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids, leaving the way for bad bacteria to proliferate. An effort to reduce the refined sugars consumption levels (by eating less sourdough bread, drinking less alcohol and flavored beverages) will limit the presence of unhealthy microbes. The Mediterranean diet should be prioritized since it promotes the survival of beneficial bacteria and has the effect of compensating for the dysbiosis caused by a typical North American diet6. This diet is based on an abundance of fruits and vegetables, a considerable amount of whole grain products, a variety of legumes, nuts, fish, the famous olive oil and a moderate consumption of red wine6.
Fermented foods are also worth mentioning, not only are they delicious, but also a source of probiotic strains. It’s giving them a try or keeping on your grocery list foods such as miso, tempeh, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut, among others. On to the next step, you have probably heard about prebiotics, these indigestible carbohydrates, which feed the bacteria of the intestinal microflora, especially the good Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria3. These are dietary fibers such as inulin, which are not digested but rather fermented in the large intestine3. They are a source of food and nutrients for intestinal bacteria3. From a food point of view, the potential challenge will be to take into consideration the peculiarities of the microbiota, the genetics of the host and then the environmental factors to propose dietary recommendations specific to each individual5.
Aside from food, you can invest in your microbiota by using supplementation. On the market, you can buy oregano oil, garlic capsule, grapefruit seed extract, olive leaves, and other additives to fight bad bacteria in our body. We should focus our energy on the strategy that deserves our attention to counter dysbiosis, which is probiototherapy. Multi-stem probiotics in ideal concentrations will help rebalance a microbiota sabotaged by food negligence or following a disturbance such as antibiotic therapy7. Probiotics achieve their benefits through three mechanisms: firstly through their antimicrobial action, then through their protection of the intestinal epithelial barrier and finally by providing immune support to the human host3.
Flash quiz to see who the Experts are!
True or False? Eating properly has a marked influence on the bacterial intestinal pattern.
True! A customization of the diet is ideal to optimize any supplementation probiotics and feed the good bacteria that are already in our body.
True or false? To date, we do not know the causes of dysbiosis in humans.
False! We now know that the prescription of antibiotics, a low fiber diet, excessive hygiene and birth by cesarean have harmful effects on the microbiota.
1Auteurs non-listés. Getting Healthier Through Microbiome Makeover. EBioMedicine. 2015 ; 2 (8) : 771.
2Thursby E et Juge N. Introduction to the human gut microbiota. Biochem J. 2017 ; 474 (11) : 1823-1836.
3Patel R et Dupont HL. New approaches for bacteriotherapy : prebiotics, new-generation probiotics, and synbiotics. Clin Infect Dis. 2015 ; 60 (Suppl 2) : S108-S121.
4Martinez KB, Leone V et Change EB. Western diets, gut dysbiosis, and metabolic diseases : Are they linked? Gut Microbes. 2017 ; 8 (2) : 130-142.
5Derrien M et Veiga P. Rethinking Diet to Aid Human-Microbe Symbiosis. Trends Microbiol. 2017 ; 25 (2) : 100-112.
6Montemurno E, Cosola C, Dalfino G, Daidone G et al. What would you like to eat, Mr CKD Microbiota? A Mediterranean Diet, please! Kidney Blood Press Res. 2014 ; 39 (2-3) : 114-123.
7Linares DM, Ross P et Stanton C. Beneficial Microbes : The pharmacy in the gut. Bioengineered. 2016 ; 7 (1) : 11-20.