Probiotics, food for our second brain

Probiotics are living microorganisms that inhabit our mucosa and have a symbiotic relationship with our bodies. This means that we provide them with a means to proliferate, and they return the favor by working as a defensive barrier.

Although the most well-known probiotics are intestinal, (previously named intestinal flora and recently denominated digestive microbiota), they actually live in our mouth, lungs, skin, colon, vagina...

Our knowledge about these tiny inhabitants of our body is increasingly growing, to the point that studies have allowed us to isolate and cultivate those strains that are most beneficial for our health. From bifidobacterial and lactobacilli —the most beneficial and widely researched— to other families of eukaryotes, fungi, viruses and yeasts.

Science and nutrition are progressing rapidly. We say the second brain when we mean the gut since we know that more than 100 trillion microorganisms colonize our digestive tube, having an influence on endocrine, immunological, neurological and even psychological processes.

Actually, the gut-brain axis is a two-lane highway. One way “brain-gut” through the vagus nerve, and the other way “gut-brain” through the information processed during digestion thanks to the type of microbiota involved in the process.

Digestive pathologies, diabetes, obesity, allergies, autoimmune and degenerative diseases have in common an alteration of the human microbiota. So far, it was thought to be a consequence, but it has now been concluded to be a determining factor among the causes. Diet, stress and lifestyle in general affect our digestive flora and contribute to the development of these pathologies.

In short, taking care of our microbiota has become an essential part of our own care. We must bear in mind that it is a symbiotic relationship: if we take care of ourselves, these organisms will thank us for it, and if we protect our microbiota, so will it do with us.

In which processes is the microbiota directly involved?

  • DIGESTION: intestinal dysbiosis is a deficit or excess of certain types of bacteria and affects the functionality of our digestive system. Intolerances, dyspepsia, allergies and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are clinical conditions aggravated by a microbiota imbalance.
  • IMMUNOLOGICAL SYSTEM: a healthy digestive ecosystem allows for maintaining an optimal exchange of nutrients at the digestive level. Sooner or later, micronutrient deficiencies or malabsorption will have an impact on our immune system. Microbiota alterations imply a deficient response of our defensive system to viruses, bacteria and inflammatory processes.
  • MOOD: research carried out on the prevention of anxiety and depression with probiotics shows that some species of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria (specially L. rhamnosus and B. Longum) perform an important role in reducing the risk of depression. It is safe to claim that these species are involved in the increased synthesis of some neurotransmitters, such as serotonin.
  • PREVENTION OF OBESITYoverweight and obesity are the main harms in our society and are associated with the development of multiple diseases. Several studies relate the deficit of some species in people with a tendency to obesity, for instance, Lactobacillus gasseri and Bifidobacterium breve. It is likely that our genetic predisposition plays as relevant a role as that of our microbiomes in terms of fat accumulation, insulin resistance and cholesterol production.
  • VAGINAL INFECTIONS: The intake of oral probiotics may contribute to the regeneration of the microbiota in vaginal infections, as well as increase the efficacy of the pharmacological treatment and reduce relapse rates. Lactobacillus crispatus contributes to the healing of the damaged vaginal epithelium, protects from Candida albicans infection, and may inhibit its growth and reduce its virulence.
  • ORAL HEALTH: If there is an excessive proliferation of pathogenic microorganisms in our mouth, an imbalance can occur and lead to oral diseases such as gingivitis, halitosis, caries or periodontitis. Probiotics may have beneficial effects, helping reduce symptoms.
  • HELICOBACTER PYLORI: is a bacterium that infects the stomach epithelium and is one of the pathogens with the highest incidence worldwide. PylopassTM is a patented strain of Lactobacillus reuteri that works by forming coaggregates with Helicobacter pylori and easing its expulsion from our body.
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