Composition of the Intestinal Microflora

The human GI tract hosts a rich and complex microflora that is specific for each person depending on environmental and genetic factors. Different bacterial groups and levels are found throughout the GI tract, as corresponds with the different ecological niches present from mouth to colon. The stomach and the upper bowel are sparsely populated regions (103-104CFUperg contents) while the colon is heavily populated (1011-1012CFUg contents). In the small intestine genera such as Lactobacillus and Bacteriodes are usually found, whereas those considered predominant in the large bowel include Bacteriodes, Bifidobacterium, Eubacterium, Clostri-dium, Fusobacterium, and Ruminococcus among others. Several health-promoting properties have been attributed to defined members of the intestinal microflora such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. A balanced microflora provides a barrier against harmful food components and pathogenic bacteria and has a direct impact on the morphology of the gut. Hence, the intestinal microflora constitutes an important factor for the health and well-being of the human host and a healthy stable microflora affords a potential source of future probiotics.

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