Good Bacteria, or probiotics for short, are one of the best ways to fight off infection and keep your digestive system in tip-top shape.
The friendly microbes that make up Good bacteria improve our immune systems by helping protect us from illnesses such as diarrhea caused by E Coli food poisoning which is found in contaminated meat products grown on farms with poor sanitary conditions.
These beneficial germs also help regulate gut flora and strengthen the intestinal lining where they create an environment inhospitable for pathogens like yeast infections which can lead to irritable bowel syndrome symptoms such as bloating, gas, pain, constipation, and discomfort when passing your stool.
A lot of people may think that bacteria are all bad. But in reality, there are some good types too! Probiotics and lactobacilli help your digestive system by making sure food moves through the intestines as it should so you can digest them properly.
Good vs. Bad Germs
Bacteria have gotten a bad reputation and for good reason. Bacteria are behind a number of serious diseases — including pneumonia (Streptococcus pneumoniae), meningitis (Haemophilus influenzae), strep throat (Group A Streptococcus), and food poisoning (Escherichia coli and Salmonella), and a variety of other infections.
Good Bacteria: You might not realize this but humans have been living with microorganisms for centuries now – we even need these organisms to survive every day without much thought about it at all (we would die if they weren’t present).
And while most microbes aren’t harmful, sometimes our environment or lifestyle choices lead us down a path where those same bugs become dangerous instead… such as when someone has an autoimmune disorder which means their body’s immune response doesn’t work right
These “bad” bacteria are the reason why we diligently disinfect our hands and wipe down our kitchen and bathroom sinks, as well as any other places where germs tend to 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 guys. In fact, our bodies are home to an estimated 100 trillion “good” bacteria, many of which reside 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 B12.
According to research published in the journal Best Practice & Research Clinical GastroenterologyTrusted Source, 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 diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems.
Probiotics and Health
The idea that certain types of bacteria can improve our health has been around since the early 20th century when Nobel prize-winning Russian biologist Elie Metchnikoff first proposed that eating bacteria similar to those living in the body could have health benefits.
More recently, companies started marketing products called probiotics (which means “for life”) containing these bacteria.
Probiotics are available in many forms, including supplement pills, suppositories, and creams. Many foods contain friendly bacteria, such as:
- cheeses with live active cultures
Other foods that contain friendly bacteria include fermented foods such as:
- sourdough bread
Probiotics are proposed to prevent and treat a variety of health conditions, such as:
- diarrhea (including diarrhea caused by antibiotics)
- irritable bowel syndrome
- ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontitis
A few studies have hinted that probiotic pills might improve health, but many medical researchers such as those at the Cleveland Clinic report that there is not enough proof to say for sure.
Types of Probiotics and What They Do
Below are a few of the probiotics that are taken to treat or prevent disease, and how they’re thought to work.
In the body, lactobacillus bacteria are normally found in the digestive, urinary, and genital systems. You can also find them in yogurt and dietary supplements, as well as in suppositories.
More than 50 different species of lactobacillus exist, including:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus, is one of the most commonly used probiotics. It’s found in yogurt and fermented soy products such as miso and tempeh. Lactobacillus acidophilus has been used (in suppository form) to treat bacterial infections of the vagina. In pill form, it can be taken to prevent and treat diarrhea, including traveler’s diarrhea in adults and diarrhea caused by rotavirus in children.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG may help treat traveler’s diarrhea or diarrhea that’s caused by Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) bacteria or by antibiotics in children. It’s also been found to help prevent eczema in infants.
- Lactobacillus salivarius may help block the growth of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), the bacteria that cause peptic ulcers.
- Lactobacillus Plantarum can improve the immune system barrier against invading disease-causing bacteria.
Other uses for lactobacillus include:
- preventing diarrhea caused by antibiotics and infection
- preventing colic (inconsolable crying) in babies
- preventing lung infections in young children
- preventing diarrhea in adults who are in the hospital or receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer
- treating bowel conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcerative colitis
Bifidobacteria make up most of the “good” bacteria living in the gut. These bacteria begin colonizing the gastrointestinal system almost immediately after we’re born.
Bifidobacteria come in about 30 different strains, including:
- Bifidobacteria bifidum may help protect against unhealthy bacteria. Research (1) suggests they also can relieve IBS symptoms. When combined with Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacteria bifidum might help prevent eczema (2) in newborns.
- Bifidobacteria infantis are thought to help relieve the symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain, gas, and bloating
- Bifidobacteria lactis has been reported to improve cholesterol levels in women and in people with type 2 diabetes.
These bacteria produce the enzyme lactase, which the body needs to digest the sugar in milk and other dairy products. Some studies suggest Streptococcus thermophilus can help prevent lactose intolerance.
Saccharomyces boulardii is actually a type of yeast, but it acts as a probiotic. Some studies have found it helpful for preventing and treating traveler’s diarrhea, as well as diarrhea caused by antibiotics.
It may also be useful for treating acne and reducing the side effects of antibiotic treatment for H. pylori bacteria.
Cautions Regarding Use of Probiotics
Before you take any probiotic supplement, remember that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved these products. That means you can’t be sure when you buy a product whether it’s safe and effective.
There have been cases reported of people developing bacteria (bacteremia) or fungi (fungemia) in the blood after taking probiotics. More clinical studies are needed to confirm the benefits of probiotics, as well as the possible risks.
Let your doctor and pharmacist know before you take any probiotic supplement. Ask whether it’s safe for people with your health conditions and if it will interact with other medications you are already taking.
It’s especially important to tell your doctor before using these supplements if you are pregnant or nursing, have a weakened immune system from a condition such as HIV/AIDS or are taking drugs that suppress your immune system.
The good bacteria in your gut is called a microbiome. This can be affected by diet, environment, and antibiotics. It’s important to keep this healthy because it affects mood and metabolism.
Informative conclusion paragraph: Good Bacteria is a probiotic that has been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of diarrhea, antibiotic-induced diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation.
There are many benefits to taking probiotics for your digestive system but these particular strains have not been studied extensively enough to make any strong conclusions on their effectiveness or long-term safety profile.
If you do decide to take them try starting out with only one capsule per day spaced 8 hours apart and work up slowly if needed from there; water should always accompany each dose.
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