We’ve all heard of bad bacteria. Do you know what good bacteria are? Discover the benefits of probiotics and how they can help you live healthier!
What is a Good Bacteria?
Bacteria have got a bad reputation, and for good reason. Bacteria are behind several serious diseases including pneumonia (Streptococcus pneumonia), meningitis (Haemophilus influenza), strep throat (Group A Streptococcus), food poisoning (Escherichia coli and Salmonella), and a variety of other infections.
These “bad” bacteria are the reason we diligently disinfect our hands and wipe down our kitchen and bathroom sinks, as well as any other places where germs congregate. We also have developed a wide range of antibiotics, which are drugs designed to kill the bacteria that cause disease.
Yet, not all bacteria are bad. In fact, our bodies are home to about 100 trillion “good” bacteria, many of which live in our gut. Not only do we live in harmony with these beneficial bacteria, but they are actually essential to our survival.
Good bacteria help our bodies digest food and absorb nutrients, and they produce several vitamins in the intestinal tract, including folic acid, niacin, and vitamins B6 and vitamin B12. Beneficial bacteria may also protect us against their dangerous relatives that cause disease by crowding them out in the gut, producing acids that inhibit their growth, and stimulating the immune system to fight them off.
When helpful bacteria multiply and thrive in our bodies, they act as our protectors. But sometimes, we put the population of beneficial bacteria at risk. When we take antibiotics to treat an infection of harmful bacteria, we also kill helpful bacteria. This can cause an imbalance of bacteria in the body that can lead to diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal problems.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system. We usually think of these as germs that cause diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.
You can find probiotics in supplements and some foods, like yogurt. Doctors often suggest that they help with digestive problems.
What are the types of probiotics?
Many types of bacteria are classified as probiotics. They all have different benefits, but most come from two groups. Ask your doctor about which might best help you.
- Lactobacillus. This may be the most common probiotic. It’s the one you’ll find in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with diarrhoea and may help people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
- Bifidobacterium. You can find it in some dairy products. It may help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some other conditions.
- Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast found in probiotics. It appears to help fight diarrhoea and other digestive problems.
Good Bacteria Can Prevent Food Allergy
The absence of certain beneficial bacteria causes the epidemic of food allergy in the human gut.
The number of Americans who suffer from food allergy has risen sharply over the last decade to 32 million, according to one recent estimate. Nearly 8 percent of children in the U.S. are affected. One hypothesis is that factors like an increase in c-sec births, reduction in breastfeeding, a rise in use of antibiotics and smaller family sizes are disrupting the normal microbial balance in the gut. This is depriving babies of the “good” bacteria. It is this good bacteria that prepares the immune system to recognise food as harmless.
You should also know about Prebiotics
Best Sources of Good Bacteria
Here are some important healthy sources of good probiotics;
- Yogurt – one of the best sources of good bacteria. it has many other health benefits too.
- Kefir – this is a fermented probiotic milk drink made by adding kefir grains to milk. it has many stains of good bacteria and yeast.
- Kombucha – this is a fermented black or green tea; fermented with good bacteria and yeast.
- Pickles – naturally fermented pickles are better than those fermented in vinegar.
- Buttermilk – the leftover liquid while making butter is a very good probiotic. Iit also has important vitamins and minerals.
- Soft cheese – not all cheese are excellent sources of probiotics, but the ones in which the good bacteria survive the ageing process like mozzarella, gouda, cheddar and cottage cheese.
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