Good Bacteria vs Bad Bacteria
When some people hear the word “bacteria”, their minds often jump straight to things negatively associated with bacteria like germs, disease, and illnesses. Bacteria, however, is just a type of microorganism and can be found practically everywhere.
It is estimated that there may be at least a billion different species of bacteria on the planet – some experts think it numbers in the trillions. Bacteria can be found from the top of the highest mountain to the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean; even the human body is full of bacteria! In fact, according to BBC Science Focus, there are more bacterial cells in our bodies than there are human cells.
While many people associate bacteria with illnesses and disease, not all bacteria is bad. There are many types of bacteria that are beneficial, and many that are even considered necessary for our bodies to function properly and play an important role in maintaining a healthy body.
Good bacteria come in many different forms, some are known as beneficial bacteria, probiotics, or gut microbes, and these are the kinds of bacteria that help to maintain a healthy balance within the microbiome in our bodies. You may have heard of some species of good bacteria such as probiotic bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, which are both found in Ohso Chocolate Bars! These good bacteria can be found in various areas of our body, on our skin, in our digestive systems and colon, and in a female’s vagina. They all play a crucial role in supporting our overall health and wellbeing.
Good bacteria and the gastrointestinal tract (GI)
Probably the most well-known benefit of good bacteria within the human body is the influence they have on our digestive health. Around 80% of the total bacteria within your body are located in the large intestine, where trillions of microorganisms live. Of those trillions of bacteria, only around 10-20% of those will be the same bacteria that anyone else has, according to BBC Future, making your microbiome unique to you.
The bacteria that lives in our gut, or gut microbes, help our bodies with processing food, like fruits, vegetables, and meats, by breaking it down and making it easier to process, absorb, and use the nutrients present in the food we consume. It is important, however, to ensure that we are eating the right foods to help keep a healthy balance of bacteria in our gut and prevent digestive issues like excess gas, bloating, and constipation.
Good bacteria and the immune system
The good bacteria in your body also plays an important role in supporting your immune system. By helping to stimulate the production of antibodies, good bacteria help our immune system fight off infections and diseases. Studies have shown that if we have higher levels of good bacteria in our human microbiome, with a good variety and balance of species, we have a stronger immune system, making us less susceptible to illness.
Good bacteria and mental health
Good bacteria doesn’t just provide physical benefits. Research has shown that if we have plenty of good bacteria and our microbiome is well balanced, it can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and even help improve cognitive function!
Bad bacteria is mostly precisely what people tend to think of when bacteria is mentioned; harmful bacteria or pathogenic bacteria are the types of bacteria that can cause sickness or disease. These types of bacteria are often associated with infections but can still be found in various parts of our body like the skin, mouth, and digestive system.
Examples of bad bacteria include Salmonella, E. coli, and Staphylococcus aureus and they can cause a whole array of illnesses, from relatively minor infections like a urinary tract infection right through to far more serious illnesses like meningitis or pneumonia.
How does bad bacteria enter the body?
Harmful bacteria can get into our systems in a variety of ways. They can enter our bodies through contaminated food or water, via contact with someone else who is infected, or by exposure to contaminated surfaces.
How to protect yourself against bad bacteria
The good thing is that, whilst it is virtually impossible to protect yourself against all forms of bad bacteria or contamination, by following some simple, common sense steps, you can help prevent the spread of bad bacteria. It is important to practise good hygiene by washing regularly and properly, by washing your hands regularly with soap and water, and by cleaning the surfaces appropriately in your home and place of work.
The impact bad bacteria has on your health can vary greatly depending on the type of bacteria and the severity of the infection. Most forms of bacterial infection can be treated by modern medicine, such as antibiotics, but in some cases it can lead to serious health complications and can even be deadly.
However, it is also important to bear in mind that coming into contact with some bad bacteria is good for us, so there’s no need to go overboard with the cleaning.
The balance between good bacteria and bad bacteria
While good and bad bacteria can both impact our health in different ways, it is important to remember that they are actually both necessary for a healthy body that functions properly. Research has shown that without bad bacteria, a weaker immune system develops, making it harder to fight off illnesses and infections, so it is important to take a certain amount of bad with the good. Maintaining a healthy balance of a wide variety of bacteria in our microbiome, but with good bacteria outweighing the bad, is key.
Many variables can have an impact on the bacterial balance in our bodies – diet, lifestyle, or even environmental factors. Eating a balanced diet, rich in fibre and containing fermented foods, along with a helping hand in the form of a regular delivery of live cultures encapsulated in delicious chocolate, can help support your gut bacteria. Avoiding processed foods with lots of sugar content will help prevent the growth of bad bacteria.
Other factors that may negatively affect the balance of bacteria in your microbiome could include high stress levels, lack of sleep, smoking, and lack of exercise. So, taking steps to manage stress, get enough sleep, and exercise more, in addition to eating a healthy and balanced diet, can all help support a healthy, balanced, bacteria microbiome in your body.
Win gut friendly chocolate!
This is your chance to sample our gut friendly chocolate for yourself. Simply fill in the form below and we’ll pick three lucky winners to receive our lovely Raspberry Pro-biotic chocolate bars. Share this competition on your social media to be in with a chance of winning twice!