Healthy intestinal flora: 5 things do you good and what you should avoid at all costsPlease mark the corresponding words in the text. With only two clicks report the error to the editor.
Getty Images/Science Photo Libra/KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY Our gut is the most biodiverse and densely populated biotope on Earth.
It is now considered safe to say that a species-rich gut flora is important for health. Experts refer to this as the microbiome. Meanwhile one knows, what does the microbiome well.
Since the beginning of the millennia, new laboratory methods (16S rRNA-based studies) have been used to analyze the microbiome, and knowledge about the ecosystem in our digestive tract has grown enormously.
Many thousands of research projects have now been able to prove that an increase or decrease in certain bacterial strains in the digestive tract can increase the risk of numerous diseases: Allergies, obesity, diabetes, Parkinson's disease or cancer are just a few examples of many for which links to a disturbance of the intestinal flora, a so-called "dysbiosis", have now been proven.
About the expert
Michaela Axt-Gadermann is a physician and professor of health promotion in the "Integrative Health Promotion" course at Coburg University of Applied Sciences. She lives with husband. Children near Fulda. She has written numerous books on the subject of "intestines" as well as developed a licensed online nutrition coaching service ("Healthy with Intestines") that is recognized by health insurance companies. You can find more information on the website "Slim with intestines".
Even athletic fitness and performance is probably about 20 percent dependent on the state of the microbiome. And in the elderly, the degree of weakness appears to be. Frailty to be closely linked to the diversity of species in the intestine.
The bottom line from all these studies is:. Even if many questions are still open, there are some scientifically well-documented recommendations for improving the condition of the microbiome. And there is (at least) one measure you should avoid.
"Healthy with intestine" by Michaela Axt-Gadermann
1. Feed the bacteria with prebiotic fiber
The term "prebiotics" refers to various groups of carbohydrates that are resistant to the digestive enzymes in the small intestine. They therefore enter the colon largely unchanged. Are metabolized by the resident microorganisms. The resulting metabolic products, such as short-chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate, acetate), reach many organs via the bloodstream and thus have a direct influence on our health.
At the same time, prebiotic fiber serves as "food" for the intestinal bacteria. Unfortunately, we can only supply a small number of bacteria (see point 5) directly through our food or with the help of dietary supplements. More than 90 percent of the important microorganisms are not available in powder or capsule form. These must regenerate therefore from own Kraft. Prebiotics are here the help for self-help.
In the meantime, various prebiotics have been identified that can be used to specifically promote individual bacterial strains and improve the condition of the microbiome. Breast milk is the first prebiotic-rich food that promotes bacterial colonization of the still young intestine. Later, prebiotics from plant foods promote a healthy microbiome. Since each prebiotic fiber promotes different bacteria, eating a varied diet is important for a diverse gut flora.
Inulin, contained in Parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory and garlic, strengthens, for example, Bifidobacteria and the slimming Bacteroidetes, and at the same time is capable of repressing unwanted Clostridia. Fructooligosaccharides from Beer, bananas, oatmeal, rye, asparagus and tomatoes support the growth of Faecalbacterium prausnitzii, an important germ for our intestinal health, as well as Lactobacillus species (lactic acid bacteria). Acacia fibers (binding agents for food or from dietary supplements) specifically strengthen the important bifidobacteria. Resistant starch, in cooled potatoes or green bananas, promotes the group of butyrate-forming microorganisms.
In order to establish a healthy and species-rich microbiome, it therefore makes sense to eat a varied and diverse diet and to include different prebiotic fibers in the diet. By the way: Low-carb diets or FODMAP diets lead to a depletion of the microbiome in the long run, as they often result in a lack of fermentable, prebiotic fiber.
2. Your intestinal flora needs exercise
The microbiome loves sports and develops better when you are physically active on a regular basis. Significant differences between athletes and couch potatoes can be observed in both animals and humans. But don't worry: everyday exercise is enough to keep our gut bacteria happy. Even regular fast walking sets positive impulses for a healthy microbiome.
A Spanish research group prescribed a light exercise program for six weeks to 32 adults (18 lean, 14 overweight), all of whom had to sit a lot at work. Three days a week, participants were asked to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes. The test subjects did not change their diet during this time. Before starting and after six weeks, stool samples of the participants were examined. The study not only looked at the intestinal flora, but also determined the butyrate level. Butyric acid (butyrate) is a metabolic product of intestinal germs and is particularly important for our health and well-being.
After the 6 weeks of training, all participants should return to their sedentary lifestyle. The result: After six active weeks, the important diversity of the microbiome increased measurably. Bacteria such as Faecalbacterium prausnitzii or Roseburia, which produce valuable butyrate, multiply after the workout. The positive changes were even more pronounced in the slim people than in the overweight people. But as soon as the workers returned to their sedentary jobs, the beneficial effects on the gut microbiome also diminished over time. So you have to stay on the ball to maintain the good condition of the intestinal flora in the long term.
3. More dirt, less hygiene
It has been known since the 1990s that a too clean and hygienic living environment increases the risk of allergies and autoimmune diseases, because the immune system lacks important impulses. Our modern life with frequent showers, the use of disinfectants in the home environment, antibiotics and a life in small families and an urban environment has been leading to a decline in microbial diversity in the intestine as well as on the skin for decades now. Above all, social contacts and an environment that is not too sterile are important for regularly "inoculating" the intestinal and skin flora with important microorganisms.
In the pandemic, additional necessary hygiene measures, restriction of personal contact and less foreign travel prevented us from adding new bacteria to our microbiome. Therefore, avoid disinfectant household cleaners, spend a lot of time outdoors, and return to earlier, close contacts after the pandemic ends.