The GI tracts’ microflora is made up of good, bad and neutral bacteria – which are the smallest living organisms. The good bacteria are known as beneficial bacteria because they’ll keep potentially bad bacteria from becoming established, beneficial bacteria also have the ability to manufacture vitamins and natural antibiotics, as well as communicate with the immune system to minimize allergies or stimulate rapid response to an invasion by disease-causing microorganisms. Bad bacteria are known as pathogens and they can make you sick, cause disease and threaten your life. Neutral bacteria and yeast, also known as chameleons because they can disguise themselves and hide from the immune system, becomes harmful under certain conditions (e.g. after antibiotic therapy or when the immune system is compromised).
Overwhelming scientific evidence supports the importance of good bacteria to human health and longevity. As long as the body’s immune system remains strong; resident pathogens keep a low profile. This is probably the most studied natural phenomenon in the scientific community.
Your body has transient (traveling) good bacteria as well as resident good bacteria.
Transient bacteria do not set up the colonies inside our GI tract but they do provide help while traveling through. They help resident bacteria grow, which in turn, keeps the bad bacteria from flourishing. Lactobacillus bulgaricaus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the best known and most effective transient bacteria recognised worldwide as they are the two symbiotic bacteria (mutually benefiting each other through their interactions) used to produce yoghurt.
Selected probiotic bacteria strains increase your numbers of beneficial bacteria which flourish and strengthen your first line of defense against pathogenic invasions.
Battle of the Bugs – Competition for Dominance in the GI Tract…
There are approximately 1,000 different species of micro organisms teeming within the body’s intestinal tract. Your body houses 1—trillion micro organisms – more than ten times the number of cells in your body – and they are all competing for territorial dominance.
The invaluable GI tract which begins at the mouth and ends at the anus is the ultimate arbitrator of both health and disease. Approximately twenty-seven feet long (depending on your height), the GI tract is a fueling station helping to nourish and improve immune function and provide your body with a vital and continuous nutrient supply. It is also a waste-management system and a waste-disposal system. Probiotic strains are essential in neutralising toxic byproducts not removed through bowel elimination. The whole purpose of digestion is to extract every bit of nourishment from food and continuously expel what the body does not need.
If you are in optimal health, you have a protective barrier of beneficial bacteria adhering to the epithelial cells on the wall of the GI tract. The normal flora repels the invasive army of pathogens waiting to establish territorial dominance. When this protective barrier of beneficial bacteria is reduced due to life events (such as poor eating habits, infection, antibiotics, injury and stress), the pathogens wait is over. Stimulated by the opportunity for nutrients, they multiply and damage the epithelial cells. Toxins produced by the pathogens cause more damage, destroying the tight junctions between the cells to the intestinal wall. Now they have access to the bloodstream and a free ride to infect organs in remote locations in the body.
If you are experiencing digestive problems, then it is a good idea to eat foods that will increase the bacteria in the digestive tract. Such foods as Yoghurt, buttermilk, kefir, tempeh, kim chi (korean side dish) sauerkraut all contain probiotics. Where your diet may need a boost in probiotics, you can take a probiotic supplement so as to balance the digestive tract.
Watch this space for part III…