You are accustomed to consider yourself an independent person, but recent studies say that this is not so. All humans are symbiotic organisms. Inside us lives a microbiota! Why this news? So, from afar, we start a conversation about probiotics.
It all sounds incredibly alarming, Herbert Wells and Isaac Asimov are immediately remembered, but in fact, the microbiota (human microflora) are millions of hard-working (and, we are sure, funny) bacteria. For the first time, the journal Sсience ventured to call the microbiota an organ.
Judge for yourself: this thing performs the function of regulating the body’s metabolism, plays a large role in the immune system, produces up to 30% of energy and is able to influence higher nervous activity. This is 100 trillion cells – 10 times more than human cells. Bacteria live in the gastrointestinal tract, inhabit our skin, mouth and other mucous membranes and everywhere take an active part. Man and microflora are a real superorganism, and we need each other! So it’s in your best interest to cherish and cherish the pet living in you.
We become happy owners of a symbiotic organism at birth. Jonathan Eisen, a cheerful bearded man in a plush bacteria necklace, who has collected more than half a million views of his lecture on microbiota on Ted.com, explains that during natural childbirth, the child receives the microorganisms of the mother, but when they receive a caesarean section, they don’t receive enough or are not populated. “In the child, while passing the birth canal, his mouth is open, he screams, breathes. But the main settlement goes through mother’s milk. This is confirmed by the fact that there are significantly more bifidobacteria in children in the intestines than in adults. ”
The microflora of youngsters is unstable for up to a year, it varies greatly and does not depend on their place of residence. By 2-3 years, the baby normally has this “organ” – and then the differences that are associated with the way of life appear. For example, Indians from South America and Africans have one type of microbiota that is suited to complex carbohydrates. Europeans, Americans and Chinese are somewhat different: this is probably a consequence of the Western macro diet, where protein, animal fats, and a lot of sugar predominate.
More than 500 species of microorganisms live in the intestines of a healthy person. And the mass of microbiota is greater than the mass of the human brain.
These are medicines or dietary supplements that contain living microorganisms of normal flora. You probably heard about them from a yogurt ad. According to promises, probiotics improve digestion and overall well-being. Discussing bacteria from a position of benefit until recently has not been accepted. We all know: they start up with unpleasant personalities who do not wash their hands before eating and generally neglect hygiene procedures, or, for example, with desperate daredevils who do not disdain local dishes in exotic countries. From bacteria, there are acne, diarrhea, tetanus, pneumonia, and meningitis. But there is another side to the coin.
At the end of the 19th century, antibiotics were discovered that fundamentally changed the treatment of many diseases. However, along the way it turned out that they are toxic, famous for many side effects and – most importantly – they also kill the beneficial microflora. And in the 21st century, a new player comes onto the scene – probiotics. Probably, in the near future, antibiotics will go by the wayside, or even completely into history. And bacterial infections will be treated and not only with the help of probiotics. Already today, one of the clostridial infections is thus fought in this way. True, so far in the framework of clinical experiments in America. For the faint of heart, please skip the paragraph. The essence of the method is the transplantation of squeezing the stool of a healthy person into the intestines of the patient, through an enema or using a tube passing through the mouth and esophagus. This method was three times more effective than antibiotics.
Today, probiotics have high hopes for researchers who are involved in type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other diseases of modern civilization. The effect of microbiota on obesity has already been tested in mice. Jeffrey Gordon from the Washington Center for Genomic Research transplanted the microbiota of thin and reference mice back and forth. It turned out that one microflora has harmony, the other – to fullness. But that is not all.
Bacteria are able to magically affect the state of our psyche. The mechanism has not yet been studied, but experiments on mice confirm this theory. Rodents were laid on a high platform and watched as after a while they would start jumping. Mice with a certain microflora turned out to be more nervous, they used to decide on a desperate step into the abyss (all remained alive, do not worry!). American minds are now seriously studying how it works in humans. Today, about 20% of US residents take various psychotropic drugs and spend $ 34 billion annually on them. However, treatment with pills is often ineffective.
You can buy them at the pharmacy or in the supermarket. Live bacteria, according to the descriptions, are in tablets, capsules, yoghurts and even vaginal suppositories. However, large-scale studies confirming their effectiveness in the treatment of various diseases have not yet been published. The only thing that experts are now converging on is in the absence of harm and the opening prospects.
“Microflora itself is a complex community with very subtle interactions between participants. And the simple addition of any one object is both difficult and unlikely to shift the balance. For example, the beneficial microflora from a probiotic in a tablet usually does not colonize in the intestine, after a while it “leaves”. But while he “lives” there, he can improve the condition of the existing microflora. “
True, there are a lot of specialists who disagree with this statement. Today, a probiotic in combination with another treatment can be prescribed by a gastroenterologist for gastrointestinal diseases; gynecologists also have them in their arsenal. Chewing oral probiotics are able to improve the condition of the oral cavity and fight various colds. For example, you can try them if you feel that your throat is about to hurt.
Do not confuse probiotics with prebiotics. So called dietary supplements or food, which stimulate the production of beneficial microbiota in the body. In fact – a treat for your symbiotic friend. You will find a list of useful products below.
In the light of the foregoing, the phrase “You are what you eat” acquires not just a new sound – a scientific justification. For example, researchers from the American Harvard University and Duke University (their work was published in the journal Nature) argue that when switching from an omnivorous diet to vegetarianism or only to animal products, the composition of the intestinal flora and its effect on the body change very quickly. But while you have to dream of creating proven effective bacteria-based tablets, take into service a simple way to improve the condition of your symbiotic friend. Namely, to include fiber-rich foods in the diet. As well as enzymes:
Wise Indians drink a glass of lassi before dinner (a well-whipped mixture of yogurt, water, salt and spices). Western scientists find this habit very useful. So keep the recipe. You will need ½ tsp. zira seeds, 300 ml of natural yogurt, 75 ml of water and a pinch of salt. Fry the seeds in a dry frying pan, put in a blender along with the rest of the ingredients and whisk. Cool and drink.
Fermented vegetables (the same cabbage, as well as zucchini, eggplant, onions and carrots), fermented soybeans will also please your bacteria. As a bonus, you get vitamin K2, which plays a significant role in the metabolism of bones and connective tissue, as well as in the work of the kidneys.
Be treated with antibiotics only if it is really necessary and the doctor has prescribed them. And do not forget to drink kefir.
It is no secret that low doses of antibiotics are used in meat production. The task is difficult, but if possible, take farm, environmentally friendly goods inside. Excessive sugar foods can feed pathogenic bacteria that are extremely unsympathetic to your microbiota. Do not drink chlorinated or fluorinated water. Refuse antibacterial soap.