Bacterial cultures are most commonly known for causing infections and are generally disliked.
Most cleaning products at the grocery store are likely to make more profit if their label reads, “kills 99.99% of bacteria.” But not all bacteria is created equal and some bacterial cultures are actually essential to maintaining good health and living a healthy life.
Probiotics are good microorganisms that help protect and nourish the body. The human body has thousands of bacterial cultures. These cultures live in parts of the body such as the large intestine, the stomach, the skin, and the urethra. Probiotics help promote good health and proper function in each of these areas.
Communities of microorganisms found in parts of the human body are known as flora. The gut flora, for example, refers to the many microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. Flora are typically found in body cavities or parts of the body that are exposed to the outside, like the mouth and nose.
Role of Flora
Different flora populations throughout the body have similar functions when it comes to defense and nutrition. In the large intestine, for example, the flora helps digest food into absorbable vitamins and nutrients (like vitamin B12 and folic acid) before excretion. Microorganisms found here also help protect the body by preventing infections from pathogens that may be present. In the skin, the present microbial population helps prevent skin infections and help nourish it.
Disturbances in Microbial Balance
Some antibiotics—which kill gut flora—can disturb the microbial balance and leave the body prone to infections. Maintaining a well-balanced microbial environment is extremely important to good health. When gut imbalances in bacteria occur, bad microbes can take charge and lead to undesirable symptoms like diarrhea and inflammation.
Intestinal microflora, which are responsible for the production of vitamin K, can also be affected. Disturbances will lead to a decrease in the levels of prothrombin, a necessary component for blood clotting, and to excessive bleeding. The role of probiotics in preventing inflammation is also key to preventing ulcers and chronic conditions.
Diet and Microbial Life
Diet is an important determining factor when it comes to defining the microbial populations of the flora. Research shows that animals subjected to a high-fat, high-sugar diet (The Western Diet) experience fast changes in the microbial community of their intestines. Numbers of undesirable bacteria increase while the good decrease.
Because of this, it is recommended to make probiotics part of the daily diet to promote good immune health and digestion. Some of the most common sources of probiotics are fermented products like kombucha, kefir, and yogurt. Probiotic supplements are also available and should be taken if one’s diet does not have a rich enough source of probiotics.
Related article to read: Best Probiotics for Women