The particular micro-flora of a digestive tube includes a very diverse group of micro-organisms, including more than 400 different types of bacteria. The amount of bacteria is increasing. While you can find about 103 per ml of them in stomach, there are as much as 105-106 per ml of them in little intestine; and the biggest number is to be found in colon – there are a lot more than 1012 per ml. Gut bacteria is very important for the functioning of digestive tract and for the supply of nutrients. Its role in colon is to ferment food elements which cannot be decomposed in small intestine.
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They include resistant starch, non-starch polysaccharides (fibre), oligosaccharides, proteins, etc . About 60 to 80 g of meals gets into a colon of an adult daily. In the first part of digestive tract the food is partially decomposed in to lactic acid and short-chain essential fatty acids (such as acetic acid, propionic and butyric acid) thanks to the activity of bacteria, for example the representatives of overal Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. These acids have positive effects on the host patient. They provide energy to epithelial tissues of colon, decrease pH, boost the absorption of calcium, iron and magnesium; and improve metabolism of glucose and lipids in liver. Other substances (carbon oxide, hydrogen, methane, phenolic compounds, amines plus ammonia) also come into existence along the way of decomposition. However , phenolic and nitrogen compounds arise only in its downward part (descending colon) plus S-shaped part (sigmoid colon), exactly where many diseases may develop, e. g. colon cancer and ulcerative colitis.
Health benefits of lactic acid bacteria – probiotics
Good bacteria, mainly bacteria of lactic acidity fermentation, are very important to keep our body healthy. The name refers to their ability to ferment lactose and several other sugars into lactic acid (and different organic acids). Lactic acids belong to the category of micro-organisms which maintain microbial balance in our body; for this reason they are called friendly bacteria : probiotics. Due to the production of lactic acid they decrease pH of the environment, which becomes acidic and thus unfavourable for bacteria.
Their ability to produce bacteriocins – peptides and proteins with qualities of remedies is also very important. In this way they prevent pathogenic and putrefying bacteria from multiplying.
Apart from this, they produce vitamin K, perform dehydroxilation and deconjugation of bile acids. In this way they will decrease their ability to modify directly into faecal bile acids, which help with the development of colon cancer.
While common gut bacteria are able to live long and multiply in digestive tract; probiotic is a live bacterium, which stays in it only for a short period. Here this performs beneficial activities, but struggles to colonize in the long term. It means that it’s essential to take probiotics over a longer period of time in order to feel their positive effects. Bifidobacteria (Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium breve) and lactobacilli (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus etc . ) are among lactic acidity bacteria which are most commonly used. These beneficial lactic acid bacteria are available mainly in fermented dairy products. Yoghurts with live probiotic cultures, bungalow cheese, but also non-pickled sauerkraut have got curative properties. At the moment there are also many other ways how to supply our guts with beneficial bacteria, mainly by means of high-quality dietary supplements. Probiotic products, live bacteria of which have the form of freeze-dried capsules and thus can resist acidic environment in stomach, are among the most stable ones.
The composition of micro-flora changes during the lifetime
Soon after the birth our digestive pipe is sterile and bacteria negotiate in the tube gradually during breast-feeding; later they get into our body through the contact with the environment and food consumption. During the aging process the composition of stomach flora changes considerably. Older people possess lower or zero number of bifidobacteria; while the number of lactobacilli, enterococci, enterobacteria and clostridia increases. This can lead to the accumulation of pathogenic and toxic substances, development of colon cancer and liver disorder. It was found out that if the number of undesirable bacteria can be higher than the number of probiotics, the risk of having a wide range of diseases increases significantly. They include for example:
Irritable bowel illness
Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s illness, ulcerative colitis)
Gastroenteritis (inflammation of stomach and little intestine)
Neglected intestinal tract – the storage of waste materials and paradise for parasites, Obstipation and its health impacts, Health benefits of fibre, Why do our bowels need fibre?