Microbiology Term Paper

Submitted By LysetteT
Words: 732
Pages: 3

Topic: Microflora and Diet
“Be Good to Your Gut” The intestinal microflora is a beneficial health asset that plays an important role in the immune system and is also largely linked to diet. What is known as gut flora includes trillions of bacteria, directly linked to the body’s natural defense system. “It is known that microbes in the large intestine complete the digestion process on any food components that were not digested in the small intestine, such as lactose in lactose intolerant people…” (Kiani, 2006) Similar to how the skin is the first line of defense, the gut is a mechanism at the frontline of the immune system. Most gastrointestinal organisms are harmless, yet some are beneficial and that is where the topic of probiotics comes in, defined as “live microbial food ingredients beneficial to the body.” (Kiani, 2006) This lactic-acid producing bacteria is consumed through yogurt and other fermented foods. Overall, many types of diseases originate from your digestive system, and maintaining an ideal balance of bacteria in the body is key to overall good health. The human respiratory tract is home to thousands of different bacterial species. Normal microbiota (ex. bacteria lining the stomach) permanently colonize the human host; this relationship is known as symbiosis. Wilson (p.1) labels it as “living together”, and can be applied to any association between two or more organisms. They are further classified into three different types: commensalism, mutualism and parasitism. According to Kim and Weiser (p.47), these are largely considered to be commensal organisms because in the absence of underlying mucosal damage or immunological dysfunction normal microflora live in the upper respiratory tract without causing disease. Having microflora promotes many notable advantages in the human body, and in this case also reflects mutualism. When in balance, intestinal microflora aid in the absorption of nutrients and repress harmful bacteria, while the host in return provides a protective environment and a supply of nutrients for the microflora. The main areas of colonization include the skin, oral cavity, upper/lower intestinal tract and urogenital tract. Regarding diet, the concept of probiotics as a nutritional supplement has seen fairly favorable results ever since it was established, especially for people with gastrointestinal tract issues. Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Enterococcus are a few examples of probiotic species among others, which inhabit the lower gastrointestinal tract and provide many nutritional benefits such as vitamin production, promote the digestion of nutrients and help in competing for space against deadly pathogens, balancing the good and bad bacteria. There is no question especially when there is evidence of the many benefits of lactic acid bacteria consumption, Kiani (2006) states: “improved intestinal tract health, enhanced immune system, reducing symptoms of lactose intolerance, decreasing the prevalence of allergy, and reducing the risk of certain cancers.” Yet some microflora are opportunistic pathogens. Focusing on Escherichia coli (also included within this group of microbes in the lower gastrointestinal tract) proves that under certain circumstances a normally