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What are the Health Benefits of Good Bacteria?

Updated on December 24, 2014
Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Lactobacillus acidophilus. | Source

You are never exactly alone. As a matter of fact there is a good chance that over 2 kg of your body weight isn't yours.

There are trillions of bacteria living inside each and every one of us.They make up about 2 percent of our body weight.

Some bacteria are good and some are bad. We need good bacteria to keep bad bacteria in check. Apart from their role in the immune system, good bacteria also play an important role in digestion.

If all good bacteria were to seize to exist today, we will lose the balance of our immune function and our health. Another name for good bacteria is 'probiotics' which literally means ‘for life’.

Apart from keeping harmful bacteria at bay, good bacteria produce K and B vitamins. They break down complex sugars, protein and fat into simple sugars, amino acids and simple fats. These simpler molecules can then be easily absorbed into blood stream.

Summary of the health benefits of good bacteria

  • Good bacteria keep harmful bacteria at bay
  • produce vitamins such as vitamin K and B
  • help in the break down of food

How do good bacteria suppress bad bacteria?

Even though most bacteria are harmless to us, there are some that are harmful. They are known as pathogenic bacteria and they make us sick by secretion of toxins. Pathogenic bacteria are present in our gut in small amounts. They spend their lifetime damaging the gut wall and causing diseases.

Good bacteria suppress bad bacteria by creating a competitive environment. This is an environment where both parties have to compete for space and nutrients. This slows down the replication of bad bacteria and gives the immune system time to wipe them out.

When can bad bacteria take over?

One important factor that contributes to the bad bacteria taking over is antibiotics. When we take antibiotics, it cannot differentiate between good and bad bacteria. Antibiotics will basically kill everything including good bacteria. At the end of your antibiotic course, most of the good bacteria would have been killed. If you do not repopulate your gut with good bacteria, bad bacteria will have less competition and will multiply rapidly to gain the upper hand.

When bad bacteria overgrow and dominate good ones, they start spreading to cause all kinds of health problems. Bad bacteria will act on food in our intestine and release toxins. They will irritate the wall of our intestine and may cause a condition known as leaky gut.

Therefore, it is important to not use antibiotics unless your health care provider thinks that the benefits outweigh the risks.

However, there are low levels of antibiotics in the foods we eat everyday. These are foods such as meat, chicken and all those other animals that are dosed with antibiotics.

How do you put the good bacteria back in Place?

There are times when you have to use antibiotics, even though this means you are going to lose good bacteria. The good news is that you can repopulate your gut with good bacteria after your antibiotics course.

First of all, you can repopulate your gut by eating foods that are rich sources in good bacteria such as fermented foods. These include unpasteurized yoghurt, fermented milk, unfermented milk, miso and Kefir. Good bacteria in these foods will colonize and repopulate your gut keeping the bad bacteria in check.

Secondly, eat prebiotics to feed the good bacteria. Healthy eating habit is important to help promote the good bacteria. It is important to eat plenty of plant based foods such as nuts, fruits and vegetables. These are what good bacteria thrive on. This is not only good nutrition for you but also good nutrition for the good bacteria.

Reduce processed foods and foods that contain high sugar in your diet. These basically feed the bad bacteria.

Therefore, it is recommended that immediately after your course of antibiotics, before the bad bacteria have the chance to start multiplying and spreading, take some high quality probiotic supplements. It is also recommended to take probiotics in long term bases, that is, for up to several weeks after a course of antibiotics.


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    • anatomynotes profile image

      Edmund Custers 5 years ago

      Thanks for the contribution, Bro.

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of pissants promisem and deantraylor 5 years ago from TWO OF THE MANY LYING LIB CRYBABIES OF HUB PAGES

      Funny isn't it ? For how many years were we told the apendix was a vestigial organ the human body did not need - even though they had no idea what it's original function could have been. We now know, however, that the appendix serves an important role in the fetus and in young adults. Among adult humans, the appendix is now thought to be involved primarily in immune functions. It is no longer routinely removed and discarded if it is healthy and the appendix now appears to have a reason to be – as a "safe house" for the beneficial bacteria living in the human gut. Beneficial bacteria in the appendix that aid digestion can ride out a bout of diarrhea that completely evacuates the intestines and emerge afterwards to repopulate the gut.

      If scientists weren't brainwashed to believe in evolution they would never have concluded the appendix was a worthless vestigial organ but because science didn't have all the answers back then they shoved their conclusions (based on nothing but belief in evolutionary theory) down our throats. And these same cynics would be the first to say people superstitiously turn to a belief in God for comfort in the face of the unexplained when they themselves invariably turn to their unsubstantiated but believed theory of evolution when their science has no other answer. It is the height of hipocracy and plain pathetic. Only when scientific advancement and discovery reveals an explanation are they forced to drop their false conclusions (based solely on faith in a theory) but life goes on as if they never tried to pull the wool over our eyes. I'd bet the majority of people still think the appendix is a vestigial organ.