Metabolism is the sum of all chemical reactions which sustain life of the cells and whole organism. Such processes include: breathing, digestion and assimilation of food, regulation of body temperature and blood pressure, work of muscles and other organs, as well as mechanisms that occur inside our cells. Metabolic disorders in each of these elements lead to impairment of the entire body. Factors affecting metabolism are genes, lifestyle (diet and physical activity), as well as the composition of the intestinal microbiome. Our body needs many nutrients supplied from the outside to function properly. Processing and absorption of these substances occurs in the digestive tract, with the participation of the intestinal microbiome.
The correct number and proportion between different bacterial species in the intestines regulates the permeability of the intestinal mucosa, their mobility and functions and also affects the metabolism of the whole body. Intestinal bacteria perform many important tasks. Bacteria enable, among other things, the formation of short chain fatty acids such as acetates, propionates and butyrates, which in turn are a source of energy for enterocytes – intestinal cells. The microbiome bacteria are involved in the synthesis of B vitamins (B1, B6 and B12) and K, biotin and folic acid, and facilitate the absorption of calcium, iron and magnesium ions, regulating the mineral metabolism in our bodies.
There are significant differences in the composition of the microbiome of normal-weight and obese people. In the case of excessive body weight, there is a greater number of Firmicutes bacteria in the intestine, which are able to produce large amounts of energy from products that are not digested under normal conditions, e.g. from fiber. In recent years, particular attention has been paid to the role of intestinal microflora in the development of civilization diseases such as obesity, atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes. An improperly balanced diet reduces the variety of intestinal microbiota, while promoting the proliferation of potentially pro-inflammatory proteobacteria.
Factors that disturb the composition of the intestinal microflora are:
- viral and bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal tract,
- anti-inflammatory drugs,
- antibiotic therapies,
- oncological treatment,
- improper diet,
- lack of exercise,
- chronic stress.
Beneficial effects for the microbiome can be obtained by taking appropriate probiotics, as well as using the right diet. Adequate fiber intake is very important for the metabolism of bacteria and the whole body. It provides food for our bacteria, helps regulate intestinal mobility, and also helps to get rid of metabolic waste.
The most important thing for our metabolism is permanent lifestyle change, investment in exercise, healthy nutrition and keeping the intestinal microbiome in proper balance.