What are friendly bacteria?

What are friendly bacteria?

The friendly bacteria in our intestines have been termed ‘probiotics’ and they comprise the beneficial types of bacteria found in the normal microflora of the human gut.

We all have trillions of bacteria living in our intestines and there is a vast body of research showing the benefits of a balanced gut bacteria in many areas of health, including (but not restricted to) digestion and immunity.

Billions of little helpers

We all have trillions of bacteria living on our skin and in our mouth, nose and intestines.

The gut contains the largest numbers of bacteria, known as the microbiota, and the greatest number of species - the main two species are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.

The bacteria take residence in our bodies from the day we are born and remain with us throughout our lives. The gut bacteria is established in the first 2-3 years of life and play important roles in nutrition, digestion, metabolism, immune function and protection.

How is the microflora beneficial?

The gut microbiota has a multitude of benefits…and we couldn’t survive without it.

The bacteria help us to digest food, especially certain types of fibre, and this gives us more energy.

They help us to absorb the antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.

They help to build our natural defences when we are born and then help to maintain our immune system throughout our lives.

The gut microbiota helps with the production of some vitamins, specifically vitamin B12, Biotin and vitamin K.

A balanced microflora

The gut microbiota contains both helpful (good) and hostile (bad) bacteria and the ideal balance for our bodies is around 85% good to 15% bad.

Many factors, such as diet, the environment, food poisoning, gut infections, illness, antibiotics, stress, lack of sleep and aging can impact on the balance of the gut bacteria and allow the less desirable types of bacteria to increase and put the microflora out of balance, known as dysbiosis.

Digestive issues related to dysbiosis include bloating, indigestion and food intolerances. Other effects can include low energy and reduced immunity.

Why do we need friendly bacteria?

Historically, prior to refrigeration, humans consumed large amounts of bacteria in the form of fermented and cultured foods.

This is not the case today and an increasing body of research highlights the impact that imbalanced gut bacteria may have on our health.

Taking this necessary bacteria in the form of well-researched, high-quality probiotic supplements can be a useful addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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