Microbiota in the Health Spotlight

The gut microbiome contains tens of trillions of microorganisms and more than 1,000 known species of bacteria that have been shown to play an important role in modulating the immune system and disease risk. The gut microbiome is the set of microorganisms, their genes, and metabolites in an ecological niche, while the gut microbiota refers to the microbial communities in that niche.

The gut microbiota is believed to play a critical role in human health and disease prevention through mechanisms such as the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are important for maintaining intestinal balance and optimal immune function. As a result, the study of these microorganisms has increased and their importance in human health and disease processes is becoming more apparent. Intestinal microorganisms play an essential role in the development and maintenance of an effective and healthy immune system, as the majority of antibody production in the adult human body takes place locally in the intestinal mucosa. Their position is crucial for the initial recognition of foreign molecules, creating a barrier effect of the microbiota that prevents the invasion of pathogens and inhibits the growth of their competitors.


Microbiota and disease

Dysbiosis refers to an imbalance of the normal gut microbiota, which can be caused by factors such as:

  • Poor stress management
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Toxic habits (smoking, alcohol consumption)
  • Sweeteners
  • Consumption of soft drinks
  • Digestive or immune system disorders
  • Antibiotic treatments
  • Aging
  • Intestinal infections
  • Poor eating habits
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Use of antibiotics and antacids


Several pathologies are associated with an abnormal composition of the intestinal microbiota:

  • Diarrhea associated with Clostridium difficile
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, etc.
  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders: Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes


Dietary diversity and lifestyle are probably the most important factors influencing the composition of the human gut microbiota. Microbes in the gut contribute to host health through the biosynthesis of essential vitamins and amino acids, which are an important source of energy for intestinal epithelial cells and can therefore strengthen the mucosal barrier.

Promoting microorganisms in the human environment can have beneficial effects on the microbiota. Generating and maintaining the diversity of the gut microbiota through the benefits of prebiotics and probiotics is a new clinical target for health promotion and disease prevention.