The bacteria in your gut – the gut flora – are unique to every individual beginning with birth and changing over your lifetime. The GI tract of a baby is sterile. During birth, babies swallow the bacteria present in the birth canal and, within a few days, these colonize the intestine. Babies born from C-sections have delayed colonization and may feature more organisms acquired from the environment compared to vaginally born infants.
Once the flora fingerprint is established, the bacteria in each individual is recognized as normal throughout the individual’s life span. Essentially, these bacteria are your colon warriors who recognize each other and try to prevent “foreign invasion” by anything that will harm your body.
Billions of “adherence sites” in the cells of the intestinal wall allow the different bacteria in the your gut to “stick on,” and the friendly bacteria overcrowd the pathogenic bacteria by competing with these sites. In health, there is an important balance, called dysbiosis, between the good and the bad bacteria. When the balance is altered, the intestinal wall may become irritated and the body is unable to differentiate between what’s good and what’s not. That can increase intestinal permeability (what flows through) and cause “leaky gut syndrome.” When that happens, harmful substances/bacteria pass into the body and circulate in the blood stream. But when you’re healthy, your normal flora prevents this from happening.
Years ago, scientists believed the gut microbiota and the human being were in a commensal relationship – meaning that they exist together but don’t help or harm each other. Advances in medicine clarified that we have a “mutualistic relationship,” meaning the gut microbiota benefit from us and we, the hosts, benefit from the gut bacteria.
Click HERE to check out a bunch of articles about bacteria if you want to learn more about these fascinating organisms and how they affect your life.
Bacteria – just another reason to thank your mom!
Go with your Gut,
The Probiotics Team