» Intestinal flora or microbiota is the name given to the bacteria found in the gut or intestine. Each individual contains approximately 100 trillion microorganisms, located along the digestive tract, with the highest concentration in the colon.
The genes of these microorganisms outweigh the genes of the human body by about 150 times. Each individual has a different, highly variable intestinal flora composition, although all people share a basic series of common microorganisms.
Intestinal flora, which is metabolically adaptable and flexible, as well as rapidly renewable, assists the metabolism and plays an important role in obtaining energy from diet. The intestine is the largest immune organ that helps us to maintain our natural defences- that is why it is very important to ensure that intestinal flora stays healthy and balanced.
As we grow, the composition of microbiota increases in both diversity and wealth, reaching its maximum point of development at the adult stage with a bacterial composition that remains relatively stable throughout life.
Such factors as diet change, age, stress, geographic zone and genetics, amongst others, not only affect energy balance but also have great impact on the modification of intestinal flora.
All this can lead to obesity and increase the risk of developing metabolic disorders.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE INTESTINAL MICROBIOTA
The small intestine, a digestive tract 6-8 metres long, is where the real digestion and absorption of food -carbohydrates, proteins, fats, bile acids and vitamin B12- takes place. The large intestine, which is about 2 metres long, is where substances that are not useful are stored, and where the absorption of water, fatty acids and electrolytes takes place.