Friendly Bacteria
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Friendly Bacteria

Bacteria have been around since life began and they will stay with us as long as we live. But did you know that bacteria are not just disease-causing organisms? Most are actually very beneficial to human beings and we exist with them in a well-balanced, symbiotic relationship. That's good news since there are more bacteria on one person's skin that there are people on Earth.

Did you know that there are more bacteria on your skin than there are people on Earth?

No matter how hard people work to eradicate them, bacteria will always share an existence with human beings.  Even with unprecedented medical breakthroughs and higher standards in cleanliness, unseen worlds of bacterial colonies continue to live and thrive between our teeth, under our fingernails, and between our toes.

If you find it a little creepy to think about how our body is host to trillions of bacteria, think also about the fact that these microorganisms don’t just make us sick.  They add to our health, as well.

Intestinal Flora

Regardless of your current health situation, you can most likely benefit from increasing the population of beneficial bacteria in your intestines.  The number of friendly intestinal bacteria in a healthy individual can easily reach an incredible 100 trillion and have a combined weight of three to five pounds.  But what can maintaining large populations of bacteria do for us?

  • Produce vitamins.  Bacteria are a lot like people.  They eat, metabolize nutrients, and produce wastes.  Through these natural processes, bacteria form a symbiotic relationship with their hosts, whereby vitamin B12 and vitamin K are produced and utilized by humans. It should be noted that the by-products of bacteria are the main source of vitamin K, as it is very hard to come by in sufficient quantities from the food we eat.
  • Compete with harmful bacteria.  There is only so much room in your gut for bacteria to occupy.  With large populations of friendly bacteria, there is often limited resources and space for harmful strains to become established.  Good bacteria can essentially starve the bad microorganisms out.
  • Help with digestion.  When you eat a meal, you meet your nutritional needs, but you feed your friendly flora, as well.  The colonies of bacteria in your gut go right to work breaking down foods that may be difficult or impossible to digest so that both bacteria and humans benefit from the absorption of nutrients.

There are thousands of different species of intestinal flora that serve us in more ways that could possibly be listed, so suffice it to say that these beneficial microbes are an integral part of developing and maintaining a healthy immune system – and it all starts in the intestines.

The study of microorganisms is a relatively new field that has advanced at the same rate as the technology associated with microscopes.  With this technology, we can learn more by observing bacteria and other microbes that cannot be seen with the naked eye.  And although scientists are studying the detrimental strains of bacteria, they are also finding out more about just how important beneficial bacteria are to the world of humankind.  

References:

Sanders ME (February 2000). "Considerations for use of probiotic bacteria to modulate human health". The Journal of Nutrition 130 (2S Suppl): 384S–390S. 

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Comments (1)

A very well presented submission about the study of microrganism, thanks Melissa.

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