The gut microbiota is the entire collection of microorganisms—mainly bacteria, but also viruses (microbiota) and fungi (mycobiome)—living in our gut where they reproduce, communicate with each other, and with our own cells.
Microbiota and microbiome are often used interchangeably but indicate two different concepts. The term microbiota refers to the group of microorganisms that colonize human body tissues. The term microbiome, on the other hand, indicates the genetic heritage possessed by the microorganisms that make up the microbiota. Just like fingerprints, each person’s microbial “fingerprint” is unique and extremely personal. No individual has a microbiota that is the same as that of another.
Similarly, the intake of food supplements with acid lactic bacteria must be personalized according to the specific needs of each individual ... and not blindly!
It is estimated that the human gut microbiota can weigh up to 2 kg and that the number of bacterial cells in the body is from 2 to 10 times more than the number of human cells. The microbiota is a full-fledged organ and a life without it is, in fact, just as impossible as life without a heart, lungs, or a brain.
Diet, age and a whole series of environmental and genetic factors significantly change the quality and biodiversity index (alpha-diversity) of our microbial patrimony. On average, a person living in the western world hosts about 1,000 bacterial species. In aboriginal populations, on the other hand, there is such a wide bacterial diversity that this number can reach up to 5,000 species. Since the industrial revolution, despite its indisputable advantages, the abandonment of a true agricultural diet linked to the seasonality of the territory has resulted in a dramatic reduction in microbial diversity and the loss of nearly 4 of the 5 bacterial species that once resided in our gut.
Microbiota bacterial strains are like skilled workers on an assembly line. Only if they are in the right place, are they able to do their job professionally, become skilled in "team working" and make the assembly line fluid and well-functioning. This condition is known as eubiosis.
Supporting the microbiota through a varied, balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle is essential for not wasting, but instead enriching this very important bacterial patrimony that is passed down from parents to their children.
In an healthy microbiota the bacteria within it produce an adequate quantity of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which are generated by the fermentation of dietary fiber (No dietary fiber = few SCFAs). The primary SCFAs produced by the microbiota are acetic, propionic and butyric. Microbiota-produced SCFAs are primarily acetic, propionic and butyric acids. These small molecules communicate directly with the epithelial cells of the colon and regulating nutrient metabolism and host homeostasis. They also play an important role in the regulation of cell proliferation and in phagocytosis. SCFAs also help control the production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS), facilitate the synthesis and maintenance of the cells’ tight junctions (TJ), which are essential in keeping the epithelial cells well-attached and reducing the passage of bacterial fragments into the bloodstream (something that occurs when the state of eubiosis is no longer optimal).
Supporting your microbiota through a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle is mandatory to enrich and not disperse this important bacterial heritage handed down from parents to children.