I post a lot about your gut flora (the bacteria living in your gut). Research comes out everyday, showing us how these guys are way more important than anyone ever thought. After all, all disease starts in your gut. But let’s back up a minute. I will be doing a series of digestive posts, and need to lay the groundwork.
There are 100 trillion bacteria living in your digestive track. That’s 10 times more bacteria than human cells in your body. Most of these bacteria live in your colon. But some are in your small intestine. These make up your gut flora. (And these plus any microbes on your skin make up your microbiome)
The flora is made up of at least 800 species and 7000 different strains of bacteria. Some of these bacteria are good and some are bad. The amount, diversity, and ratio of good to bad are different for every person. Ideally you have more good than bad bacteria and they mostly reside in your colon.
The ones that are good are vital to your health. Perhaps the most important influence on your health.
Why are they so important?
- they convert food into substances that nourish the lining of your digestive track
- they protect the integrity of the GI lining-so that the good gets into your body and the bad stays out.
- they create some vitamins and minerals
- they help absorb some nutrients
- they are your first line of immunity defense
- they prevent gastrointestinal infections
- reduce inflammation
- prevent food allergies
- regulate body weight
- and all hell breaks loose when the diversity, number and ratio get altered for the worse