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Intestinal Flora: A Virtual Organ

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Uploaded on Feb 28, 2012

The intestine is a very large organ that is populated by so many bacteria that there are more cells in the intestine than in the rest of the body. So much so that there are more than a hundred thousand times more bacteria than there are body cells. Experts now refer to these bacteria as the microbiota and consider it a virtual organ. These populations of good bacteria are needed to properly digest foods and to provide a strong immune system.

The small intestine is a very fast moving environment. The concentration of bacteria is low and the dominant ones are the lactobacilli. The large intestine is a very slow moving environment almost devoid of oxygen. That is why the most abundant family of bacteria in a healthy large intestine is the Bifidobacteria. The Bifidobacteria provide a protective environment against most chronic disease of the GI from IBS (Irritable Bowel syndrome) to IBD (Inflammatory bowel disease) and even polyps and colon cancer. When the Bifidobacteria population is diminished because of antibiotics, stress, alcohol, food additives, bad diet, or whatever, they are replaced by other families of bacteria such as the Clostridia. When that happens it is an open door for disease. That is why protecting or improving the Bifidobacteria population is a must for a healthy GI. Probiotics with a good concentration of Bifidobacteria is your best ally in preventing chronic disease of the intestine.

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