The microbiota and its role in intestinal health
In recent years, interest has been increasingly focused on the gastrointestinal tract, an extraordinarily complex body area hosting the intestinal microbiota, which consists of millions of micro-organisms belonging to more than 400 different species.
As well as being responsible for the digestion and absorption of nutrients, the gastrointestinal tract is directly linked to the brain. It is involved in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters and also plays a role in keeping the immune system functional. During an average life span, sixty metric tons of food will pass through this tract and the system comes into daily contact with a multitude of substances including bacteria, toxins and parasites. Passing through the stomach and intestines, these micro-organisms undergo a sterilisation process made possible by the combined action of saliva, gastric hydrochloric acid and bile salts.
The endogenous bacterial flora and enzymes form a microbial barrier in the intestine that is capable of breaking down the food bolus until its parts are small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Ideally, the body should be able to maintain a balanced response between an immunological tolerance towards beneficial or harmless antigens and a prompt, effective response to potential pathogens. Clinical evidence increasingly associates poor digestive or intestinal function with numerous diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerance, intestinal dysbiosis, autoimmune diseases, autism, obesity and others.
Breaking new ground with intestinal testing
In recent years, this evidence has prompted us to develop innovative diagnostic and therapeutic pathways that are easy to perform and without side effects. At the ADLER Med centre, we offer non-invasive tests, on the basis of a simple stool sample, that enable:
- a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the gut flora to be performed
- the presence of any pathogenic germs to be detected
- signs of intestinal permeability and/or chronic inflammation to be diagnosed
- digestive function to be analysed and a number of enzyme deficiencies to be assessed.
The key to psycho-physical well-being
The analysis of digestive function is not only essential for the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions, it also plays a central role in the preservation of general well-being.
The direct, biunivocal link between the intestine and the brain has also rekindled interest in the resident microflora, now regarded as pivotal to our well-being. Once we realise that ‘not feeling bad’ does not equal ‘feeling well’, all we need is accurate information to be able to make conscious decisions and take our well-being into our own hands.
MD Laura Santini, General Practitioner