Six possible consequences for your health

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From: Laura Knops


The microbiome in the gut affects body and mind. An imbalance in the intestinal flora can have health consequences.

The human microbiome is the set of all bacteria and microorganisms that can be found in our body. The microbiome in the intestines in particular has a major impact on our health. Because the intestinal flora does not only act on digestion. Various metabolic processes and psychological well-being are also significantly influenced by the microbiome. If the gastrointestinal tract becomes out of balance, it can have serious consequences. Here you can find out which symptoms indicate a disturbed microbiome and what this means for the body.

Disturbed intestinal flora: six consequences of a diseased intestine

Although certain strains of bacteria are present in each gastrointestinal tract, the microbiome differs from person to person. A healthy microbiome is made up of approximately 100 trillion bacteria. These are not only responsible for digestion. The psyche, the immune system and the development of various diseases are also closely related to the intestine. Illnesses, poor diet and taking antibiotics can also unbalance the intestines. As a result, the intestines are colonized incorrectly, also called dysbiosis. Unhealthy strains of bacteria spread and crowd out good bacteria.

The gut microbiome contains over 100 trillion bacteria (symbol image). © Scientific photo library/Imago

If the diversity of protective gut bacteria decreases, it can affect the whole body. The following conditions and diseases are associated with a disturbed intestinal flora:

  • Overweight
  • inflammation
  • Permeable intestinal barrier
  • Mental illness
  • weakened immune system
  • Diseases such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis

In the long term, incorrect colonization can lead to serious complaints and even illnesses. Intestinal bacteria are thus associated with diseases such as diabetes, chronic inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. Because the microbiome is in constant communication with the brain, its state affects the way we think, feel, and act. Even psychological disorders such as depression and autism therefore seem to be at least partially linked to the intestinal flora.

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Disrupted intestinal flora: the microbiome influences weight and the immune system

The microbiome also plays an important role in defending against pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. Thus, the intestinal flora ensures the proper development of the body’s defenses. An imbalance in gut flora can also weaken gut barrier function. Foreign substances can thus enter the intestine. This can cause inflammation in the intestines, but also throughout the body.

The microbiome is particularly adaptable. A typical Western diet low in fiber, high in animal fats and protein can reduce the diversity of bacteria in the gut. This poor colonization affects, among other things, caloric intake and the feeling of satiety. Obesity could therefore be the consequence of an imbalance in the microbiome. However, those who eat mostly vegetarian foods can reverse this effect just as quickly.

This article only contains general information on the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It does not replace a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, our editors are not authorized to answer individual questions about clinical images.

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