How Your Gut Bacteria Can Help You Fight Diseases

NDTV Food  |  Updated: July 13, 2017 14:22 IST

How Your Gut Bacteria Can Help You Fight Diseases
Gut bacteria also known as gut flora refers to the the microbe population living in our intestine. It contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, including at least 1000 different species of known bacteria.

While each of us may have a unique microbiota, they tend to fulfill the same functions in our body. By know you may have known the 'good' gut bacteria majorly helps in smooth digestion of the food we eat by producing certain vitamins and enzymes. A latest study, conducted at Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology, has found something rather new. Published in the journal Molecular Systems Biology, the study indicates human gut bacteria regulate the levels of the body's main antioxidant, glutathione, which fights a host of diseases.

This could lead to new probiotic-delivering foods, and a better understanding of the metabolic processes behind diseases such as type 2 diabetes, remarked systems biology researcher  Adil Mardinoglu.  The research helps complete our understanding of how nonessential amino acids are synthesised to equip the body's cells with detoxifying agents and antioxidants, Mardinoglu explained.

"Gut microbiota regulate your glutathione and amino acid metabolism - not only in the small intestine but also in the liver and the colon," he said. The small intestine is host to more than 1,000 known different species of bacteria. Some of these microbiota were found to be consuming glycine, which is one of the three amino acids required for the synthesis of the body's main antioxidant, glutathione.
In a test with bacteria-free mice, the researchers measured the level of the amino acids in the portal vein, the main vessel that drains blood from the gastrointestinal tract and spleen to the liver. They found a lower level of glycine in the liver and colon tissues, which indicated that the gut bacteria regulates glutathione metabolism in those organs, too. Mardinoglu said that since decreased levels of glycine and other amino acids have been linked to type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and other metabolism-related disorders, further study of microbial amino acids in the human gastrointestinal tract could shed light on the development of these diseases.

"The link between gut bacteria and glutathione metabolism could lead to the development of food products that can deliver beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, to the gut," Mardinoglu said.

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Your gut bacteria starts developing at birth but the balance between good and bad bacteria needs to maintained at all times for healthy digestive functions. "The gastrointestinal tract's immune system called the Gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is one of the most important systems in your body. Foreign material can enter your body through the digestive tract. GALT helps in fighting the pathogens and defends your body against infections. The good gut bacteria helps in strengthening this immune system. The food you eat needs to be sifted through before it reaches the other parts of the body. This is where your gut bacteria helps which needs to be replenished constantly. This can be done with the help of probiotics as well as prebiotics. Probiotic is the live bacteria and the best example would be yogurt that we mostly make at our homes. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that may be derived from whole fruits and vegetables that boost the growth of the gut bacteria," explains Dr Rupali Dutta, Chief Clinical Nutritionist at Fortis-Escorts Hospital.

Dr Simran Saini, Nutritionist at Fortis Hospital in New Delhi, agrees, "Probiotics are required for daily digestive functions. They help in 'gut cleaning'. Most of the food that we eat, especially processed and canned food, can destroy the healthy bacteria. The most natural way to replenish and improve the gut flora is to eat more of fermented foods like yogurt, picked vegetables, soy products and raw milk."

CommentsWith inputs from IANS

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