Traces of bacteria living in the gut and the skin help us in many ways. In fact, some people agree that we have more bacteria living on and in us than in our own cells! These bacteria share a symbiotic relationship with us and aid in digestion, ward off infections, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and help you to live a long life. More than a 1000 species of live bacteria can be found in your body. Collectively known as the microbiota, these “germs” help us more than we can imagine.1
How Can Bacteria Help Us?
1. Gut Bacteria Improve Intestinal Function
Gut bacteria, as they are called, are the ones which reside in the stomach and intestine and aid in the digestion process. These types of germs fight against the bad microbes that enter through food and help in removing any harmful by-products of digestion. They also help in the absorption of the nutritional contents from digested food, in the synthesis of vitamins, and metabolism of acids in the digestion process. Hence, they play a crucial role in maintaining your health.2 No wonder then that gut health has become the most hotly discussed topic in recent times!
2. Gut Bacteria Help In Weight Management
Do you gain weight easily and struggle to lose the extra pounds? The concentration of bacteria in your gut can be the reason for your weight gain. Two groups of friendly bacteria exist in the human gut and the concentration of one of these groups is found to be high in obese individuals. Irregular metabolism can alter the concentration of the bacterial population, which can indicate inflammation in the body and eventually cause obesity. A proper diet that is friendly to the gut flora is essential in maintaining your body weight.3
3. Gut Bacteria Fight Off Infections
Most of the friendly germs found in the intestine play a vital role in keeping your body safe from the entry of foreign organisms. The immune system of the body is directly controlled by these little organisms in your stomach. They defend the body by fighting the pathogenic organisms that are trying to form colonies inside the stomach, which can be a major trigger factor for diseases. 4 What is important to note is that these bacteria are just trying to survive in their environment and in the process, provide us with immense benefits.
4. Gut Bacteria Increase Longevity
An interesting study showed that certain bacterial traces can be passed on between generations, which can prolong the life of the individuals, like their ancestors. These individuals shared the common trait of weight balance and stable immunity between them with the intestinal gut bacteria intact for decades. So, you can inherit gut friendly bacteria from your parents, too! An overuse of antibiotics in the treatment of diseases can kill these friendly organisms that can impair the natural defense mechanism of your body.5
5. Gut Bacteria Heal Wounds
Bacteria present on the skin surface help to heal wounds faster by constantly fighting the organisms that try and enter the exposed space. When the bacterial population is less when compared to the concentration of the external organisms, the wound gets infected. These factors play a role in deciding how quickly your wounds heal.6
6. Gut Bacteria Fight Cancer
Cancer is one of the major life-threatening diseases in today’s world. Friendly germs in the body help prevent the onset of cancer by fighting inflammation inside the body. Inflammation and disruption of the routine tasks done by the good bacteria in the body are one way by which tumors develop. For example, bacteria in the gut can prevent the occurrence of colorectal cancer. Having a diet rich in probiotics can help in stabilizing the environment in which these bacteria thrive in.7
Time to bring out those yogurt pots and make friends with the organisms living within, because they are indeed important to your overall health.
|↑1||Yan, Fang, and D. Brent Polk.Commensal bacteria in the gut: learning who our friends are.Current opinion in gastroenterology 20, no. 6 (2004): 565-571.|
|↑2||Cummings, J. H., and G. T. Macfarlane. “Role of intestinal bacteria in nutrient metabolism.” Clinical nutrition 16, no. 1 (1997): 3-11.|
|↑3||Ley, Ruth E., Peter J. Turnbaugh, Samuel Klein, and Jeffrey I. Gordon. “Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity.” Nature444, no. 7122 (2006): 1022-1023.|
|↑4||Round, June L., and Sarkis K. Mazmanian. “The gut microbiome shapes intestinal immune responses during health and disease.” Nature reviews. Immunology 9, no. 5 (2009): 313.|
|↑5||Faith, Jeremiah J., Janaki L. Guruge, Mark Charbonneau, Sathish Subramanian, Henning Seedorf, Andrew L. Goodman, Jose C. Clemente et al. “The long-term stability of the human gut microbiota.” Science 341, no. 6141 (2013): 1237439.|
|↑6||Edwards, Ruth, and Keith G. Harding. “Bacteria and wound healing.” Current opinion in infectious diseases 17, no. 2 (2004): 91-96.|
|↑7||Zhong, Li, Xufei Zhang, and Mihai Covasa. “Emerging roles of lactic acid bacteria in protection against colorectal cancer.” World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 20, no. 24 (2014): 7878.|