The microbiome in the gastrointestinal tract, or the bacterial population in your gut, are probably the best known micro-organisms in your body. The main source of bacteria in the gut is food. It makes sense then that your diet has a significant impact on your health. The richer your gut flora is, the healthier your body.
Intestinal bacteria ensure the digestion of food. They can produce vitamins, protect you against infectious diseases and train the immune system. However, when the intestinal flora are disturbed, diseases such as obesity, diabetes, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, colitis, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, eczema, cancer, asthma, multiple sclerosis, depression and more may occur.
You are what you eat
What you eat greatly affects your health. Your diet regulates the composition of your microbiome and immediately increases or decreases certain bacteria in your gut. The intake of good bacteria affects your intestines in a positive way. Just think of fermented foods or yogurt. Studies on this matter were published as early as the start of the 20th century.
Rich gut flora are synonymous with good health
The richer your gut flora is, the more diverse your microbiome. This means that the number of bacteria will be higher and that more different types of bacteria are present. When your gut flora is poorer, the reverse happens. To preserve good health, a rich intestinal flora seems crucial.
Three enterotypes or types of intestinal flora
Scientists have identified three major groups of intestinal bacteria: Bacteroides, Prevotella and Ruminococcus. The Bacteroides bacteria is mainly present in people who take in a lot of proteins and fats, such as meat eaters. This group is low in bacteria. People who enjoy an overall balanced diet with lots of vegetables have a higher diversity of bacteria. They have the Ruminococcus bacteria as dominant species. Finally, there is the Prevotella type. Not much is known yet about this group. This is a rare type that is especially prominent with people who are big consumers of fibers.
To what extent this partition is useful in determining our general state of health, is not yet clear. What we do know for certain is that the intestinal flora quickly adapts to your diet. The type of dominant bacteria in your intestines changes when you change your food intake.