You have more bacteria and other microorganisms living in your digestive tract than you have cells in your entire body. We need bacteria. While previous generations used to think that all bugs and microbes were dangerous, nowadays we know that good bowel function (and life itself), actually depends upon a healthy balance between the useful and the less useful types of bacteria. These microbes total approximately 100 trillion. They are on the surface of the skin, inside the mouth, nose, and uro-genitary tract, but most live in the large intestine. More than 1,000 different types of species live in your large intestine alone. Amongst all different species, many are helpful, but some could pose a threat to health if their numbers get out of hand. Some bacterial types like E. coli and C. difficile are opportunistic pathogens. This means that, under normal conditions, they live alongside other bacteria in the gut. However, once the host’s immune system is weakened or after a course of antibiotics or if there is physical damage to the gut lining, they can get a foothold and multiply rapidly, causing harm to the host. “The main bacterial inhabitants of the stomach include: Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Lactobacillus, Peptostreptococcus, and types of yeast” (Gut flora, 2017). It’s the balance that’s important. Friendly bacteria in your gut do the following: Stimulate the production of antibodies in your blood, increasing your immune system strength and capacity to deal with toxins, allergens, harmful microorganisms and incompletely digested proteins. They produce nutrients that are essential to your health like Vitamin B12 and Vitamin K. It takes up space and resources in your gut, which helps to prevent infection by harmful bacteria, fungi, and parasites. They produce natural antibiotics, acids, and hydrogen peroxide, which also help to protect you against infection by harmful microorganisms, including other bacteria that can cause food poisoning. It also helps aid in digesting food. Conditions in the large intestine are mostly anaerobic. This means that there is little oxygen around and as a consequence, most of the bacterial types are anaerobic; They do not need oxygen as a component in the energy-releasing reactions that occur in the cytoplasm. Instead, they release the energy locked up in nutrients by means of fermentation reactions. You know that your skin is a barrier that helps to protect your blood and inner organs against harmful materials in the environment. Your digestive tract is no different. Your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon make up one long tube that must act like your skin to protect your blood and inner organs from harmful materials. For example, “Some genera of bacteria, such as Bacteroides and Clostridium, have been associated with an increase in tumor growth rate, while other genera, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, are known to prevent tumor formation” (Gut flora, 2017).
Reference Brannagan, M. (2017, August 14). What Are the Functions of Intestinal Flora? Retrieved December 11, 2017, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/521824-what-are-the-functions-of-intestinal-flora/ Gut flora. (2017, December 09). Retrieved December 11, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gut_flora
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