Playing cards

Discovering the gut microbiota in a playful way ...

How to Play?

The dealer deals 6 cards to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down to form a pile.

The player to the dealer’s left starts. A turn consists of asking a specific player for a specific card from a family.

For example, if it is my turn I might say: ‘Mary, from the prebiotics and foods family: please, may I have the wholemeal bread ?

The player who asks must already hold at least one card from the requested family. If the player who was asked (Mary) has this card in their hand (wholemeal bread from the prebiotics and foods family, in this case) they must give it to the player who asked for it. That player then gets another turn to ask for a card from any player.

If the person asked does not have the right card, they say “pick a card!”. The player must then draw the top card from the pile.
If the card that is drawn is the one asked for, the player shows it and says “lucky dip” and they get another turn. If the card that is drawn is not the one asked for, the player keeps it, and it is now the next player’s turn.

How to Win?

As soon as a player collects all 4 cards from the same family, they must say “happy family”.

The cards must be shown and then placed face down.

The game continues until either one player has no cards left in their hand, or the pile of spare cards has run out. The winner is the player who has the most families ! When playing by 4, continue to ask other even if the pile is emply!

Playing with kids below 6: We suggest displaying this page as a guide for them. Then, they can sort and collect all 4 cards from the same family, and say “happy family

Overview of the Families

Prebiotics & Foods ❤️ (Hearts)

The microbiota’s natural protector (increases symbionts and decreases pathobionts).


Sugar extracted from vegetables (chicory). Inulin increases the symbiont population of bacteria. It protects against IBD.

Wholemeal Bread

A rich source of fibre that can be metabolized by microbes in the gastrointestinal tract to generate products used as a source of energy and protection for host cells.


A rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that stimulates the production of anti-inflammatory compounds by the gut microbiota and helps to maintain the integrity of the intestinal wall.


A source of glucosinolates that exerts anti-cancer activities. Broccoli improves overall gut microbial diversity and reduces the relative abundance of detrimental bacteria involved in irritable bowel syndrome.

Probiotics & Fermented Milk ❤️ (Hearts)

Nutrient delivering symbionts for optimal microbiota.


Produced by the bacterial fermentation of milk. Contains bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Streptococcus that protect against lactose malabsorption and intolerance.


Contains lactose that positively modulates the composition of gut microbiota by increasing the proportion of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Yeast / Saccharomyces

Used in brewing alcoholic beverages, as a leaven in baking breads, and in pharmacology as a source of vitamins and proteins.


Kefir is a fermented milk drink, cultured from kefir grains. It is a rich source of calcium, protein and B-vitamins.

Pathobionts ♣️ (Clubs)

Germs favouring dysbiosis, linked to numerous diseases (such as infections and auto-immune disorders).


Filamentous bacteria responsible for sepsis. Could predispose colo-rectal tumours.


Metabolic activity: sulforeduction.
Found in excess in NCS diseases.

Bacteroides vulgatus

Bacteroides found in faeces. Responsible for suppuration and post-operative sepsis.


Responsible for nosocomial infection and antibiotic resistance.

Symbionts ♣️ (Clubs)

Germs favouring optimal (gut) microbiota which protect humans.


Belongs to the lactic family; indirectly prevent sepsis and increases IgA synthesis in infants.


Protects the gut barrier. Has a positive effect against obesity and diabetes in animals.


Increases nutrient absorption and the conversion to energy.


Anti-inflammatory activity: has a positive effect against gut diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Environmental Stressors ♦️ (Diamonds)

Agents which have a negative impact on the metabolic reaction to stress, disrupting homeostasis and increasing the likelihood of diseases.


Interacts with the digestive system by altering gut microbiota and promoting intestinal permeability.


Dietary ingredients used in food processing which promote intestinal inflammation.


Chemicals used in agriculture which, after inhalation or ingestion, destabilise the composition of the gut microbiota and reduce the proportion of beneficial microbes.


Known to promote lung cancer. Smoking also reduces intestinal microbiota diversity based on gene richness.

Drug Stressors ♦️ (Diamonds)

Drugs leading to an inappropriate reaction of stress disrupting homeostasis and increasing dysbiosis and related diseases.


Promote the elimination of pathogens, but induce a shift in the gut microbiota that can strongly impact health-promoting microbes.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Induce significant changes in the gut microbiota and may reduce the proportion of several beneficial bacteria.


Therapeutic molecules that can be degraded by the gut microbiota to produce molecules favouring hypertension.

Anti-Cancer Chemo

Responsible for alterations in the gut microbiota, with an increase in pro-inflammatory gram-negative bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria.

Cells ♠️ (Spades)

The microbiota’s natural protector (increases symbionts and decreases pathobionts).

White Blood Cell / Macrophage

Fights against foreign agents (antigens), macrophages have phagocytosis properties against infectious agents.

Intestinal Epithelium

The single layer of human cells lining the gut wall. It has metabolic functions (absorption/digestion). Its alteration by stressors (drugs, germs) promotes hyper-permeability, infections and immune diseases.

Dendritic Cell

Cell with a role in antigen recognition during the early phase of the immune response. They are equipped with small “arms” (dendrites) that are used to sample the contents of intestinal bacteria through the epithelium.


Cells of the nervous system that transmit signals and modulate gut motility and transit.

Organs ♠️ (Spades)

Tissues grouped into a distinct structure, which perform a specialized task.


The part of the central nervous system enclosed in the cranium. It consists of a soft, convoluted mass of gray and white matter and serves to control and coordinate mental and physical actions.


The part of the large intestine extending from the caecum to the rectum. Major human organ of microbiota colonization.


Principal chemical factory of the organism, transforming drugs.

Small Intestine

Principal human organ involved in dietary absorption of nutrients.