Can bacteria really be friendly?
Not only are there friendly strains of bacteria, but many are actually essential for human health.
You may be familiar with hearing about the most common strain, Lactobacillus acidophilus, as this is often the probiotic promoted in yogurt products… but it is just one of hundreds of strains of bacteria, or ‘flora', in your gut. You received your first exposure to these bacteria while traveling through the vaginal canal during childbirth. Further exposure came via your mother’s breastmilk.
This flora is an important factor in your digestion, immune function, intestinal health, production of some vitamins, and prevents overgrowth of infective or 'non-friendly' bacteria (Eg. E.coli).
When the number of ‘non-friendly’ bacteria outweigh the ‘friendly’ this is a condition called ‘dysbiosis’.
Factors that can reduce the number of protective flora include chlorinated water, antibiotics, pesticides on foods, stress, and the overall quality of your diet.
3 common ways to support health flora include:
- oral supplementation with probiotics: available in capsule, powder, and liquid forms
- consuming naturally fermented foods: sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha kefir
- adequate fibre intake
When looking at children... diaper rash, redness around the genitals &/or anus, thrush, eczema, and bowel irregularity may be signs of not enough ‘good’ flora in their intestinal tract.
Young children who may have a greater need for probiotics experience(d) any of the following:
- Were born by caesarean
- Have taken antibiotics
- Were not breastfed (by a healthy woman)
- Have irregular bowel movements
- Digestive complaints (bloating, constipation, diarrheat)
If you suspect dysbiosis may be an issue for you or your child, consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.