The Good Bugs that Live in Your Body
The gastrointestinal has “friendly” bacteria – microorganisms that genetically inhabit the gut from birth and goes through a course of colonization. Friendly bacteria is also called microflora, bugs or good bacteria. Every person has their own individualized “intestinal microbiota” providing support to their immune system as well as having other bodily functions. Research shows that taking a probiotic product may help to boost the amount of good microflora.
There are approximately 200 different species of microflora in the oral cavity of the gastrointestinal tract and the large intestine has around 500 different species (Canny GO, McCormick BA, 2008).
Probiotics are microorganisms that are available to consume in food such as kefir or yogurt or in a supplement that provides or restores the good bacteria in the gut. Research shows that taking a probiotic product may help to boost the amount of good microflora.
There are also prebiotics, which are a form of fiber that helps to feed the microflora that lives in the colon.
Probiotics promote good digestive tract health and supports immune function. Various lactobacilli strains have been shown to provide support to the urinary tract (Grin PM et al, 2013).
There have been health benefits demonstrated in research for certain probiotic products. Probiotics have been shown to help with regularity and one review that was performed on available research showed that probiotics aid in helping produce a solid stool (Allen S Jet al, 2010).
Some different probiotic bacteria strains include:
Lactobacilli acidophilus is a popular probiotic and is one type of bacteria that has been studied extensively. It produces lactic acid when it helps to break down carbohydrates like the milk sugar lactose. Different strains are found in the intestinal tract and in women’s reproductive organs.
Lactobacilli rhamnosusis another species that is located in the intestinal tract that produces the enzyme lactase and also breaks down lactose, the milk sugar. Much research has been performed showing that it helps gastrointestinal problems and helps to produce a solid stool. It may also help the urinary tract. Companies add it to cheese, yogurt, milk and some other types of dairy products to increase probiotic bacteria.
Lactobacillus plantarum is another probiotic bacteria that is located in the saliva and gastrointestinal tract and has antioxidant benefits. Plantarum indicates that it is a plant species and is found in sauerkraut and is used to ferment foods such as sourdough bread.
Bifidobacterium breve is a probiotic that has demonstrated benefits for the gastrointestinal tract, but also for skin health. Research has been done showing that fermented milk that contained bifidobacterium breve helps to improve skin conditions. One study with adult women in Japan who took a probiotic and prebiotic helped to improve their skin compared to the placebo. (Kano M et al, 2013).
Just a note: When selecting a probiotic be sure that you read the label and directions on how to take the product. Many need to be refrigerated to retain the bacteria. If you have a medical condition or take prescription medication it is always wise, as with other supplements to check in with your health care practitioner prior to taking them.
In summary, the gastrointestinal tract contains “friendly” bacteria, also called bugs and microflora important to the gastrointestinal system, immune function and for other body functions. Probiotics can be found in some foods and also supplements to support health.
This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.