All about the intestinal microbiota thanks to the book of a doctor from Clermont-Ferrand

How to preserve our microbiota to stay healthy? Julien Scanzi, hepato-gastroenterologist in Clermont-Ferrand, gives us the secrets of our second brain in his book Incredible microbiota! which has just been published.

What is the microbiota?

The intestinal microbiota is a set of microorganisms living in the heart of our intestines. These are mostly bacteria – these are the most studied – but there are also viruses, yeasts, etc. A whole bunch of tiny microorganisms that live in us, on us, and in our intestines.

What is it used for ?

Our microbiota is not there for nothing. One of the primary functions of our gut bacteria is to digest dietary fiber. In exchange for these fibers and their digestion, these bacteria will produce small molecules that help our body function: vitamins, enzymes, neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that interact with other cells in the body (neurons, immune system, etc.). ).

Why write a book on the microbiota?

Since we have the necessary tools to study it correctly, we realize that our health is directly and indirectly linked to the state of our microbiota. As a doctor, I am very interested in the intestinal microbiota. And I said to myself: “Hey, medicine knows a lot of things, so it has to be explained to the general public.

Because the microbiota is an important element to take into consideration for our health. And it’s a pity that the general public is not aware of the fact that it is very interesting to preserve it.

So I try to give some keys to readers: what disrupts the intestinal microbiota? How to avoid messing it up? And how do I preserve it if I want to stay healthy?

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How do we take care of our microbiota?

The first piece of advice is to have a healthy diet. What is a good diet for our microbiota? It is a diet with the least possible ultra-processed foods and sugar, little meat, and above all the maximum fiber. These fibers are found in fruits, cereals and in certain legumes: dried beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.
Key number two is to have as little need for medication as possible. Indeed, most of them will disturb our microbiota, and in particular antibiotics. Another tip: limit excessive hygiene in early childhood. Indeed, our microbiota develops mainly during the first years of life. However, the more the child is in contact with bacteria, the more he will be able to develop his microbiota.

It is therefore necessary to avoid “locking up” children from 1 to 3 years old in a sterile bubble, washing their hands thirty times a day…

You talk about faecal microbiota transplantation in your book, what is it?

It is a procedure that consists of treating or curing a disease linked to an intestinal microbiota altered by a bacterium: Clostridioides Difficile. It involves administering the microbiota of a healthy subject, that is to say a solution based on faeces from a healthy individual to that of a sick patient. At Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital, I have to perform faecal transplantation, 10 to 20 times a year. If the current indication is only clostridioides difficile, there is a lot of hope in this treatment because many studies show that it could treat other pathologies like irritable bowel syndrome.

Patients tell how they were treated with the faecal microbiota of a donor at Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital

Where is the taking into account of the microbiota in current medicine?

For the moment, in current practice, the intestinal microbiota is not taken into account for diagnostic purposes. But the microbiota will occupy an increasingly important place. It’s still being studied, but it seems that some diseases have a microbial signature. This could help, eventually, to predict the risk of development of certain pathologies. We are rethinking medicine differently with the microbiota. We take it into account in the study of our health. This is why the microbiota is part of one of the medical revolutions of the 21st century.

Manale Makchchoun

Book. Incredible microbiota! Published by Leduc, 207 pages, €22.

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