Billions of little helpers
Although you can’t see them, we have trillions of bacteria called the microflora living on our skin, in our mouth and nose and most notably in our intestines. Known as the microflora, this bacteria weighs around 1.5 kilos (the same weight as our liver) and is estimated to account for around 2% of total body mass.
Humans are colonized by many types of microorganisms - including bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses.
The traditional estimate is that the average human body is inhabited by ten times as many non-human cells as human cells, but more recent estimates have lowered that ratio to 3:1 or even to approximately the same number. The gut contains the largest numbers of bacteria and the greatest number of species compared to other areas of the body.
The bacteria take residence in our bodies from the day we are born and remain with us throughout our lives, with the gut flora being established in the first 2-3 years of life.
The human gastrointestinal tract has developed with a very complex but stable population of bacteria that play an important role in nutrition, metabolism, regulation of immune function and protection.
The beneficial bacteria are made up of hundreds of different species, the main two of which are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. These bacteria are found in the normal microflora of the intestine and research shows that they play an important role in improving digestion and intestinal health as well as helping to regulate the immune system.