So, what’s the intestinal flora? Well, it’s a collection of microorganisms including fungi, archaea, and bacteria that live in our digestive tracts. It manifests itself about one to two years after our birth. It helps protect us from germs that can enter the human body. In order to keep it preserved as it should be, we can use probiotics. Probiotics can be the guardians of the intestinal flora. They’re mostly found in dairy products. Yogurt ferment, for example, is one of the most studied ones because it helps to digest lactose. Prebiotics are also quite important and it’s usually accepted to eat around 10 grams of prebiotics a day.
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With age, the body can accumulate deficiencies in bifidobacteria, the bacteria that fight constipation and gastroenteritis, which can lead to an intestinal imbalance in people over 50. To improve this situation, the solution of probiotics, the micro-organisms that make up the oral, intestinal and vaginal flora, is increasingly mentioned.
Most probiotics on the market are found in dairy products: yoghurt ferments, which help digest lactose, are among the most studied. To boost the immune system, probiotics must remain alive throughout the digestive process and be found in the colon where the bulk of the immune system is located. Their regular consumption stimulates the production of white blood cells and antibodies.
What are they used for?
Numerous virtues are attributed to the action of probiotics: a strengthening of the intestinal mucous membrane and the immune system, an antimicrobial and anticancer action, and a positive influence on the digestive system.
Some ferments have been shown to stimulate intestinal transit. They only regulate slow transits, which does not cause diarrhoea, reduces bloating and abdominal pain, and improves digestive comfort. But beware, probiotics only work optimally if they are accompanied by a healthy lifestyle: good hydration, a balanced diet, a good intake of fibre, and regular physical activity.
Many food supplements are misleadingly called probiotics, as their health benefits have rarely been proven. They should not be confused with medicines containing probiotics, such as ultra yeast, which is effective against diarrhoea caused by antibiotics or certain microbes.
Don’t forget about prebiotics
Prebiotics are special carbohydrates that our digestive enzymes are not able to digest. They, therefore, arrive intact in the colon where they act as “fertiliser” for the intestinal flora. Some industrial foods or food supplements are enriched with prebiotics, such as dairy products and biotics, but it is still easier to eat fruit and vegetables, some of whose fibres have the same effect. To be on the safe side, you should ideally consume 10 grams of prebiotics a day. They are naturally found in garlic, asparagus, onions, artichokes, bananas, wheat and rye.