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What is the gut microbiota?

Gut microbiota are a group of bacteria, mainly lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, which are located in the intestine and have beneficial functions for health.

The composition of the gut microbiota varies from one person to another, as it depends directly on the diet and the state of the person (age, immune status, stress, intestinal transit time, etc.).

There is a mutually beneficial relationship (symbiosis) between the person and the microbiota. The person provides habitat and nutrition to the microbiota while the microbiota actively participates in beneficial functions for the person.

Beneficial functions of the gut microbiota

Strengthen the immune system.

Prevent invasion by pathogenic micro-organisms.

Synthesise vitamins and proteins.

Stimulate the movements of the intestinal musculature, improving diarrhoeal or constipation processes.

Reduce the sensation of flatulence and intestinal discomfort.

Improve the function of intestinal cells.

Inhibit intestinal inflammation.

There are some situations that can diminish or alter the intestinal microbiota, for example:

  • Poor diet
  • stress
  • age
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Certain diseases

Tips for maintaining a balanced gut microbiota

  • Include wholegrain cereals, pulses, vegetables and fruit in your diet: foods rich in fibre that help to maintain correct intestinal transit.
  • Eat fresh vegetables and fruit: they provide vitamin A, vitamin C and beta-carotene, antioxidants that help maintain a healthy intestinal mucosa.
  • Eating vegetable oils and nuts: foods rich in vitamin E and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids help keep intestinal cells in good condition.
  • Eat yoghurts and fermented dairy products: they act on the intestinal microbiota by promoting the development of beneficial bacteria.
  • Drink between 1.5 and 2 litres of water a day.
  • Avoid substances such as coffee, tea, alcohol, because they can irritate and inflame the intestine.
  • As well as taking care of your diet, it is advisable to take moderate physical exercise, as this has a stress-relieving effect, helping to maintain the balance of the intestinal microbiota.

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