Life habits such as stress, little rest and a sedentary lifestyle, as well as the intake of medications, affect the intestinal flora. Consuming foods with prebiotics and probiotics is key to restoring balance .
LatinAmerican Post | Yenny Rodríguez Barajas
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Leer en español: Alimentos y hábitos saludables para mejorar la flora intestinal
When talking about bacteria, they are usually associated with infections or diseases, but this is not always the case, there are good and bad bacteria. In the body, for example, there are 100 trillion bacteria that live in the digestive system ―10 times more than all the cells in the body―, which assimilate nutrients, improve the immune system and prevent the passage of toxic substances into the blood that seek to deposit in joints, ligaments, muscles and bones.
This set of microorganisms, called intestinal microbiota, better known as intestinal flora, lives in perfect synchrony in the intestine, acting as a shield against external pathogenic bacteria and their imbalance gives rise to different diseases such as recurrent gastrointestinal infections, respiratory tract infections, allergies and asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, among others.
According to Dr. Gisella Martínez, a pediatrician at Colmédica medical centers, the most important function of the microbiome is that of immunity . “It protects us from bacteria, viruses and prevents foreign substances that enter with food. In addition, it carries out metabolism activities, recovers many nutrients, transforms them and takes them to the bloodstream to convert them into energy and nutrients that we need, that is, they balance the human body, hence its importance”.
When this balance between good bacteria and not so good bacteria is lost, it is known as dysbiosis or dysbacteriosis, that is, damage to the intestinal flora.
"The symptoms are many, but among the most common are abdominal distension, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, migraine, anxiety, gas, even memory problems, attention, skin problems, joint pain, among others," said the expert. .
Why is the intestinal flora altered?
According to Dr. Luis Fernando Dorado Palacios, an endocrinologist at the National University of Colombia, there are many factors that can alter the intestinal flora, such as viral or bacterial infections and other inflammatory digestive diseases, including long trips, unhealthy hygienic conditions. or consumption of raw food or undrinkable water. The intestinal flora can also be altered by not washing your hands properly before eating.
“Also the consumption of antibiotics, interventions such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, use of corticosteroids or surgery; or nutritional factors such as a diet low in fiber and excess meat, fat and sugar. Of course, bad lifestyle habits such as a sedentary lifestyle, stress, alcohol and tobacco have an impact, as does exposure to pollution”, explains the expert.
He points out that it can even be the result of other diseases such as diabetes, obesity and liver diseases such as hepatitis A, B or C, cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, jaundice, fatty liver and hemochromatosis.
This alteration can occur in both women and men, even in children, however, age is a risk factor. Especially after the age of 60 because the number of beneficial bacteria decreases and, therefore, diseases, infections and digestive symptoms increase.
The consumption of fruits such as apple, peach and strawberry is recommended; vegetables such as pumpkin and guatila: and legumes such as green beans . As well as the sprouts of grains, seeds and cereals; those rich in phosphorus, magnesium, selenium and those that contain B complex vitamins.
Likewise , there are food supplements that help to restore and prevent alterations in the intestinal flora , reinforce defenses, reduce the risk of diseases and improve intestinal transit.
“The term probiotic refers to a product that contains strains of viable microorganisms in sufficient quantity to alter the microflora in a host compartment (by implantation or colonization) and that produces beneficial effects because they reinforce the immune system, protecting us from diseases. They are found in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, buttermilk or raw cheese , ”explained the doctor Dorado Palacios.
And prebiotics are substances present in some foods that stimulate the growth and/or activity of intestinal bacteria. They are found in cereals, bananas, turnips, garlic, green leafy vegetables, onions, soybeans; in legumes such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and, nuts, fennel and artichokes.
To take into account
In addition to an adequate diet, it is necessary to have a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular exercise, good rest, avoiding alcohol and tobacco. Here we leave you other recommendations to have a good intestinal microbiota and digestive health:
- Eat five times a day: Breakfast, mid-morning, lunch, snack and dinner. With regular schedules and chewing well.
- Avoid stress: A relaxed lifestyle prevents bacteria from seeping into the circulation, causing inflation. You can practice yoga and meditation.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Promotes digestion and evacuation. At least drink between one and a half or two liters of liquid a day, preferably water.
- Go to the bathroom when necessary: The desire to evacuate should not be suppressed, since this can cause alterations in intestinal transit.
- Practice physical exercise: Every day, practice some activity such as running or walking, preferably outdoors.
- Avoid tobacco, alcohol and coffee: they promote intestinal inflammation through multiple pathways, among other affectations.