Normal flora

The normal indigenous flora consists of both anaerobic and aerobic micro-organisms. A healthy individual carries high concentrations of anaerobes ( Veillonella, 108 CFU/ml saliva; Bacteroides species, 1012 CFU/g feces) and aerobic Gram-positive cocci (enterococci, 10 6-108 CFU/g feces; viridans streptococci, 106-108 CFU/ml saliva) in the oropharynx and colon (CFU, colony-forming unit). Escherichia coli can be found in the feces of healthy individuals in a concentration of 10 5 CFU/g. Other aerobic Gram-negative bacilli are found in low concentrations and transiently. Healthy individuals frequently carry Streptococcus pneumoniae, Hemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, Staph. aureus, and Candida species in the oropharynx.

The normal intestinal flora is a very stable ecosystem. The digestive tract has powerful mechanisms (carriage defense) to control exogenous micro-organisms ingested with food and beverages. These include the following.

1. The integrity of the anatomy and physiology of the mucosa, which are covered by a protective blanket of mucus, prevents the adherence of micro-organisms.

2. Motility, including swallowing, chewing, deglutition, gastric emptying, and peristalsis, promotes the clearance of potentially pathogenic micro-organisms present in the daily food intake.

3. Gastric acidity.

4. Secretions such as saliva, gastric and pancreatic juice, bile, and mucus contain bactericidal products (e.g. lysozyme, peroxidase, S-IgA, and enzymes).

5. Mucosal cell renewal contributes to the removal of potentially pathogenic micro-organisms adhering to the mucosal cells.

6. The indigenous anaerobic flora inhibits exogenous bacteria by competing for food and producing bacterial toxins and volatile fatty acids (colonization resistance).

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