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What is Microbiota?

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What is Microbiota?

Microbiota, a giant structure invisible to the naked eye, is one of the most popular and interesting topics in the medical world recently. So much so that the number of microorganisms within the structure reaches 100 trillion in each of us. Therefore, the effects of such a crowded structure on our health and its relationship with diseases have become one of the issues that modern medicine studies most. We wanted to focus on the subject and take a closer look at this community of microscopic organisms in our body. Anadolu Health Center Gastroenterology Specialist Prof. Dr. Melih Özel shared important information on the subject…

The world of science reveals through many studies that trillions of harmless microorganisms that already exist in the human body are associated with diseases and chronic diseases. For example, there are studies on its relationship with obesity, which is becoming increasingly common. Of course, the data available for now is quite limited. However, it seems that today’s and very near future microbiologists will now spend much more time studying all of these microorganisms in our body and unraveling their possible relationships with diseases. Thanks to today’s technologies, gene sequences in the cells of every living thing can be read very quickly. [dizi okunması, dizileme, ACGT harf (baz) sıralarından oluşan genlerin sıralarının okunması]. First, the human genome consisting of 3x 109 bases was read, and now the sequence (base) of any microbial gene can be read very quickly, practically and cheaply. It can be easily distinguished which gene belongs to humans and which belongs to another living creature or microbe. As such, for example, the types of microbes in the human intestine – which contains a lot of microbes – their ratios to each other, the differences between people who are sick and those who are not, and even connections such as those who are obese and those who are not, those who are autistic and those who are not, continue to be both revealed and widely explained. began to be compared. In other words, intestinal content (stool) microbes have become rapidly reportable by starting from a small sample, obtaining all the DNA/RNA found there, and then “reading” them in special devices. However, despite all this, as we mentioned, the available information on the relationships between microbiota and diseases is still in its infancy. It is too early to draw conclusions from the data obtained – even though there are promising study results for the future.

Of course, we should be aware that the topic is very hot, but it is also worth emphasizing that there are some points that should be paid attention to and not exaggerated. There is a serious theoretical deficiency in the medical world. We are talking about a “living” microenvironment that is different for each individual, influenced and changed by dozens of different parameters such as each individual’s own genetic inheritance, family living and eating habits, the environment in which they live, and the medications they use. But if we look at the ongoing studies and their results; In the next very short time, there will be serious developments in the role of the human intestinal microbiota, its effects and how to benefit from it, in explaining the underlying causes and formation mechanisms of diseases in many disease areas and in diversifying treatment options.

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10 Times More Than Our Own Cell Number!

In fact, we can briefly define microbiota as the sum of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, virus and protozoa families) that live in our body and are not human cells. We know that the total population of this crowded living community, numbering in the trillions, that lives with us in our bodies, is more than 100 trillion. If we say that their total weight constitutes approximately 2-3 percent of our body weight, it may be possible to imagine how large a structure we are faced with. Another surprising information is that the number of these cells that make up our microbiota is 10 times more than the number of our own cells.

Is the microbiota our “Second Brain”?

It is not correct to define the relationship between microbiota and humans using some concepts that have become “cliché”. It is indisputable that the human intestine has a unique nervous system. In fact, considering that the intestine is a self-functioning structure and its functioning is affected by changes in its content, we can also say that it has a unique brain. But we should not confuse the microbiota with this intestinal nervous system. Therefore, calling the microbiota “the second brain of our body” is not a very accurate usage. The way microbiota and the human body live together is actually a kind of symbiotic life. This is a type of life where both parties find support and benefit from each other. The collection of organisms within a given ecosystem (e.g., shared human and microbial ecosystem) is called a Holobiont (also called a “Superorganism”). In summary; This is a way of life that is maintained through mutual interaction within the human body!

Why is microbiota important for our health?

This community of beneficial microbes living inside us is of great importance in maintaining body functions and staying healthy. Just like fingerprints, each of us has a unique microbiota. However, of course, the places where they are located in every body are the same. Each microorganism in the microbiota lives in places in our body that suit their reproductive characteristics. In our skin, oral cavity, respiratory tract, genital system, urinary tract and of course our digestive system. It is worth emphasizing that we have a dense microbiota content in our small and large intestines, less in our stomach. The human intestinal microbiota performs many different body functions such as digestion of food, support of the immune system, synthesis and biological modification of some vitamins, healthy intestinal functions, prevention of inflammatory changes (inflammation), maintenance of ideal body weight, brain functions, some cardiovascular diseases and mental health. plays important roles in bringing

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“All Diseases Begin in the Gut”

Hippocrates, who is considered the father of modern medicine, was never wrong when he said, “All diseases begin in the intestine” about 2000 years ago. Today’s modern medicine also supports this view. Intensive scientific studies today provide clues that problems with the human intestinal microbiota may play a role in many diseases. The results of these studies suggest that various seemingly unrelated diseases may be caused by changes in the intestinal microbiota. Although cause-effect relationships have not yet been clearly established and data to clearly prove these ideas have not been obtained, we can say that the health status of our intestines affects all body systems.

The Relationship between Microbiota and Diseases

Despite the shortcomings, the medical world has come a long way, especially in the relationship between changes in the digestive system microbiota and some diseases. The relationships between the activities of this microbial structure and human health can vary greatly among human populations. The gut microbiota has a very diverse and diverse functional repertoire. Therefore, it should not be surprising that a wide range of chronic diseases are included in the focus of research. Among these, it is possible to count various types of cancer and many diseases with inflammatory, metabolic, cardiovascular, autoimmune, neurological and psychiatric components. Yes, recent studies suggest that differences in the intestinal microbiota and changes in its composition are important in the formation and emergence of obesity and obesity-related diseases. However, studies to reveal whether the microbiota changes detected in obese people are the cause or the result of obesity continue at full strength. Our microbiota;

  • Obtaining energy from dietary fibers
  • Regulation of intestinal permeability
  • Modifying inflammatory processes
  • Regulation of fatty acid composition of tissues
  • Secretion of various proteins from the intestines

Thanks to its functions such as, it affects body fat metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism. Of course, let’s add this; For example, when it comes to energy production, we should not forget the energy produced in our muscle tissues or liver. Therefore, we cannot say that our only energy source is our microbiota. Yes, microbiota is effective in intestinal permeability. But it is not the only factor that determines permeability. We should not ignore a healthy mucosa, an active blood circulation, and antibodies and hormones secreted from the cells in the digestive system.

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It is worth keeping in mind that some types of bacteria decrease in the intestines of obese people, while certain types of bacteria increase, and changes such as decreased bacterial diversity are observed. It also appears that these changes reverse with weight loss. It is also known that supplements such as nutrition with prebiotics / probiotics balance the microbiota and help weight loss. We can say that by manipulating the changes in the composition, structure and number of the microbiota, progress will be made in understanding and treating obesity.

There also seems to be something to be said, especially about childhood allergies and related diseases such as asthma. It is also estimated that its role in inflammatory bowel diseases, especially Clostridium difficile infection, is very effective. However, definitive cause-effect relationships have not yet been obtained. Trials on this subject are ongoing in many centers in the West, especially in the USA.

Genetic Inheritance

The intestinal microbiota, which is important for all of us, is actually a genetic inheritance as it is different in each individual. As a result, we are talking about a “living” microenvironment that is different for each individual, influenced and changed by dozens of different parameters such as inherited living and eating habits, environment, medications and so on. Therefore, there are no tests that can be easily used for everyone, whose validity and effectiveness have been proven, and it seems that there will not be any in the near future. Despite everything, we are still very far from understanding the state of our microbiota and knowing which diseases we are prone to through stool examinations.

The genetic material owned by the microbiota is defined as “microbiome”. However, these two terms can often be used interchangeably. The number of genes in the microbiome is 100-150 times greater than the number of genes in the human genome. What this means is; There are many times more cells and genes of microorganisms in our body than our own cells and genes. So, from one perspective, we can actually say that we are 10 percent human and 90 percent bacterial.

Which Foods Are Beneficial for Our Microbiota?

It is indisputable that a high-fat and high-protein diet has negative effects on the microbiota in the digestive system. Apart from this, it is of course very beneficial to eat foods rich in prebiotics (food components that nourish probiotics) and probiotics (beneficial bacteria that are friendly to human health).

Foods containing high amounts of prebiotics: Banana, apple, asparagus, cabbage, Jerusalem artichoke, artichoke, garlic, onion, legumes, whole grains, potatoes.

Foods containing high amounts of probiotics: Kefir, yoghurt, sauerkraut, tarhana, sourdough bread, boza, turnip.

Flora or Microbiota?

The term flora used to originate from the idea and concept that the microorganisms in the intestines were vegetal in origin. However, according to our current understanding, the microbiota consists of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses. Although these two terms are used together today, we can say that the correct term is microbiota.

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