The gastrointestinal tract is populated by a complex ecosystem of microorganisms, commonly referred to as “intestinal flora”. Intestinal flora begins to develop from the early days of life, when the bacteria reach the maximum concentration after about two years to reach a settlement more stable that lasts for a lifetime.
The bacterial flora includes about 400-500 species of bacteria. The composition varies depending on the level of the intestinal tract: stomach conditions very slightly acidic limit the growth of plants; however, as they “go down” along the digestive tract, the concentration of flora increases up to the level of the colon particularly rich in microorganisms.
The whole body is affected by what happens in our intestines. Numerous studies have, in fact, demonstrated that the bacterial flora is able to influence multiple activities of the body thanks to its functions which are:
• Function metabolic includes the absorption of ions such as calcium, magnesium and iron, the digestion of carbohydrates not digestible by humans (such as cellulose) and the synthesis of essential vitamins, such as for example those of group B including folic acid . The metabolic actions of the flora increase the blood flow and intestinal motility, promote the reabsorption of water and ions and, making more acidic the environment, preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria
• Function trophic (nutrient), promotes the growth and maintenance of intestinal cells
• Protective function, by means of a barrier effect that prevents the adhesion and penetration of pathogenic and harmful substances at the level of the intestinal wall
The alteration of intestinal flora leads to a situation known as dysbiosis. There are conditions, in fact, that may disturb the health of our intestines causing an imbalance between the beneficial bacteria, which tend to decrease, and pathogenic bacteria, which instead increases.
Because of this situation ‘’good’’ microorganisms, already numerically small, can not produce the substances useful to the intestinal well-being, failing in their share of natural barrier.
The factors that threaten the well-being of the intestinal flora are many, among which are the unbalanced diet, temperature changes, infections and antibiotics.
The intestinal disorders can occur even with the transition from breastfeeding to infant formula, or when you change the type of milk. In addition, during the weaning dietary change might affect the bacterial flora which is not accustomed to certain types of foods yet.
The period of teething can cause some discomfort for the children who may be restless and submit their appetite and increased salivation. Sometimes it may also happen that manifest fever or diarrhea.
Given the important role of the bacterial flora on the general well-being, an intestinal ecosystem in balance can definitely help restore some of the natural functions of defense, helping to overcome most of this particular phase of the child’s life.