Human Normal Flora
Normally your body is host to billions of bacteria of various kinds. These bacteria exist in different parts of the body, and their presence usually does not cause problems for the host body. The following is a list of the main sites for bacteria that consitute the normal flora.
- Skin: moist areas of the groin and between the toes.
- Respiratory tract: especially the nose.
- Urinary tract.
- Digestive tract: mouth, the terminal ileum and the colon.
The normal flora of the digestive tract
In the stomach there are few bacteria because of its high acidity. The most important of these is a bacterium called Helicobacter Pylori. H.pylori is responsible for most cases of gastritis and peptic ulcers.
In the small intestine there are small numbers of Streptococci, Lactobacilli, and yeasts, particularly Candida Albicans. Larger numbers of these bacteria are found in the terminal ileum, the section of the small intestine just before the colon.
The large intestine, or colon, is the main site for bacteria in the body. Approximately 20% of the feces of a normal person consists of bacteria, most of which originate from the colon. The main bacteria in the colon include Bacteroides, Bifidobacterium, Eubacterium, Coliforms (e.g. E. coli), Streptococcus, Lactobacillus and Clostridium.
Different types of relationship the body can have with the normal flora including:
- Mutualism: In a mutualism relationship, both the host and the microbe benefit from the relationship as applicable on E.Coli. These organisms live in the intestines, where they receive nourishment, and in turn produce Vitamin K, which the human body needs for the process of blood clotting.
- Commensalism: A commensalism relationship is where one partner of the relationship benefits and the other partner neither benefits nor harmed.
- Parasitism: A parasitism relationship is where one organism benefits at the expense of the host. The cost to the host may vary from slight to fatal. An external parasite (ectoparasite) is said to cause infestation, an internal parasite (endoparasite) is said to cause infection.
- Pathogenic: A pathogenic relationship is where an organism induces damage to the host during infection. An Opportunistic Pathogen causes disease in a host that is physically impaired or debilitated. Normally the opportunist organism is harmless, but it takes advantage when the defenses of the host are impaired, for example when the normal flora have been destroyed by antibiotics, or when the immune system has been suppressed by drugs or by other diseases.
The relationships between the human host and most normal flora usually fall under the the category of Mutualism relationship. The benefit to the bacteria is that they have a place to survive and multiply. The benefits to the human host are as follows
- The ability of the host to nourish itself is increased. The bacteria may produce vitamins (such as vitamins B and K), and may break down food stuffs that are normally indigestible by the host into components that can be easily digested.
- The host is protected against infection by pathogenic organisms in several ways:
- The normal flora pre-occupies the favorable ecological niches for bacteria, e.g. the intestinal villi, thus presenting the invading pathogen with the problem of finding somewhere to anchor itself.
- The normal flora may out-compete the invader for available nutrients, thus starving the invader and preventing it from multiplying.
- Some members of the normal flora produce anti-bacterial chemicals (bacteriocins) as a side product of their metabolism, thus generating a local antibiotic effect which hinders the invader.
Is the normal flora always beneficial?
Definitely not! If the normal flora remains in the site with which they are usually associated, the normal flora is usually beneficial. However, some members of the normal flora are also opportunistic pathogens, or are pathogenic if they turn up at a site with which they are not normally associated. For example, Bacteroides bacteria, which normally reside in the intestines, may produce abscesses if they penetrate into deeper tissues via traumatic or surgical wounds. E. coli, a normal inhabitant of the gastrointestinal tract, is the most common cause of urinary tract infections.
Can the normal flora induce an immune response?
The normal flora can induce an immune response. Antibodies to the normal flora exist in our bodies, but at lower concentrations than those for pathogenic bacteria. They provide a "sparring partner" for the human body that keeps the immune system in tune. The precise role that the human immune system takes in regulating the populations of the normal flora is unknown.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for our health, especially our digestive system. We usually think of these as germs that cause diseases. But our body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep our gut healthy. You can find probiotics in supplements and some foods, like yogurt. Doctors often suggest them to help with digestive problems.
How Do Probiotics Work?
Some of the ways they may keep us healthy:
- When we lose "good" bacteria in our body, for example after we take antibiotics, probiotics can help replace them.
- They can help balance our "good" and "bad" bacteria to keep our body working the way it should.
Types of Probiotics
Many types of bacteria are classified as probiotics. They all have different benefits, but most come from two groups.
This is the most common probiotic. It's the one found in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with diarrhea and may help with people who can't digest lactose sugar in milk.
This bacteria can be found in some dairy products. It may help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other conditions.
This is a yeast found in probiotics. It helps improve diarrhea and other digestive problems.
What Do Probiotics Do?
Probiotics help send food through our gut by affecting nerves that control gut movement. Researchers are still trying to figure out which are best for certain health problems. Some common conditions they treat are:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites)
- Antibiotic-related diarrhea
They may be beneficial for problems in other parts of our body. They may help:
- Skin conditions, like eczema
- Urinary and vaginal health
- Preventing allergies and colds
- Oral health
What is a Prebiotic?
Prebiotics are a very specific type of food ingredients. While many of the food ingredients we consume are digested immediately, prebiotics are a healthy non-digestible food ingredients. Moreover, prebiotics are heat resistant, which keep them intact during the baking process and allow them to be incorporated into every day food choices. By consuming a non-digestible ingredient, it allows for growth of bio-cultures by reaching the intestine unaffected by the digestion process. This can provide good digestive health. The positive effects prebiotics have by reaching the intestine in an unaltered form is known as the prebiotic effect.
A prebiotic effect develops when there is an increase in the activity of healthy bacteria in the human intestine. The prebiotics stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilliin in gut and increase resistance to invading pathogens. This effect is induced by consuming functional foods that contain prebiotics. These foods induce metabolic activity, leading to health improvements. Healthy bacteria in the intestine can combat unwanted bacteria, providing a number of health benefits.
Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics include a dietary fibre that trigger the growth of bacteria having favourable effects on the intestinal flora. Probiotics are live micro-organisms contained in the food we eat. Probiotics remain intact throughout the digestive process, and deliver healthy bacteria directly to the large intestine. Since probiotics do not stimulate metabolic activity they provide a different set of benefits than prebiotics. Both sets of benefits are valuable for our health wellness, and can act symbiotically to provide numerous health benefits. In fact, the benefits of consuming both prebiotics and probiotics are so grat that synbiotic products (products in which both a probiotic and a prebiotic are combined) are being developed as functional foods.
Source of Prebiotics
The most common type of prebiotic is from the soluble dietary fibre, inulin. Inulin is common in many plants containing fructan. Furthermore, many of these plants are frequently eaten as vegetables (asparagus, garlic, leek, onion, artichoke) and are an excellent source of inulin. However, as the need for functional foods rises, prebiotics are being added to many every day food choices such as cereals, biscuits, breads, table spreads, drinks, and yoghurts.
Adding Prebiotics to Every Day Food Choices
If all consumers met their dietary requirements, and ate 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, then their dietary fibre needs would be met. However, the vast majority of the population does not meet these requirements by consuming fruits and vegetables alone. Functional foods increase consumer choice by adding prebiotics to every day food items. By continuing to eat and drink common foods, but choosing functional alternatives (i.e. Bread containing prebiotics) dietary requirements can be met, without significant changes to food preferences.
Fine Healthcare Group Incorporation has introduced Fine’s Prebiotic Pectin Gummies containing Inulin. Thus, this product contains 2 prebiotics, inulin and pectin to provide various health benefits including:
- Normalizing bowel movement.
- Maintaining a healthy bowel.
- Improving digestion.
- Maximizing nutrient absorption.
- Increasing your energy level.
- Supporting the growth of probiotic bacteria (good bacteria)
- Balancing your inner ecosystem.
- Boosting your immune system against bacterial and fungal infections.
- Lowering cholesterol levels.
- Controlling blood sugar levels.
- Helping you to achieve a healthy body weight.
- Lowering risks of diabetes and heart diseases.