Role of Microflora in Health and Disease

Major dysfunctions of the GI tract are thought to be related to disturbances or aberrationss of the intestinal microflora. Recent findings confirm that aberrations can be documented and related to disease risk. The microorganisms present in our GI tract thus have a significant influence on our health and well-being.

The development of the intestinal microbiota needs to be characterized to define the composition that helps us to remain healthy. Specific aberrations in the intestinal microflora may predispose to disease. Such aberrations have been identified in allergic disease, including decreased numbers of bifidobacteria and an atypical composition of bifidobacterial microflora. Also, aberrations in Clostridium content and composition have been reported to be important. Similar predisposing factors may also exist in the case of microflora and both inflammatory gut diseases and rotavirus diarrhea. Microflora aberrations have also been reported in rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile chronic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and irritable bowel syndrome patients. A thorough knowledge of the intestinal microflora composition will offer a basis for future probiotic development and the search for new strains for human use. Many diseases and their prevention can be linked to the microflora in the gut.

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