Gut health and pathogen control
The intestine is the most important interface between the outside world and the animal’s internal body, acting as the first line of defence against invading pathogens and noxious chemicals. Besides its role as a physical barrier, the intestine is also rich in gut associated lymphoid tissues (GALT), equipped to mount an active immune response against advancing pathogens, while ensuring no response against dietary antigens or normal flora, thereby maintaining immune homeostasis.
It is estimated that mammalian microbiota is composed of more than 400 species of bacteria that contain around 1014 microbes (approximately 10 times the number of cells in the mammalian body). Beneficial microbes play a major role in maintaining gut health and barrier functions, either through direct ‘cross-talk’ with the intestinal immune cells or indirectly, through the production of bioactive metabolites. These include SCFA and vitamins, using substrates from dietary nutrients which have a direct effect on the immune and structural function of the epithelial cells.