You're probably used to thinking of bacteria as agents of serious diseases. Newsflash - the beneficial capacities of bacteria are just as incredible!
Over the past 10 years, researchers have uncovered a remarkable deal about the nature of bacteria flora, the microorganisms that live in your digestive system, and the key roles that they play in your health.
Because your immune system is largely housed by your gut, it makes complete sense that the 100 trillion bacteria in your intestines help your body fend off infection and prevent disease. Read on for other key health benefits of bacteria.
Three health benefits of bacteria
#1: Bacteria produce essential vitamins
Different types of bacteria produce different vitamins that are essential to specific aspects of your health. For example - Bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) produce B-complex vitamins that help your body produce energy and form red blood cells, such as biotin, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6) and cobalamin (B12). These bacteria also produce vitamin K, which helps build strong bones and prevent heart disease, as well as folic acid, which helps produce and maintain new cells and prevent changes to your DNA that may lead to cancer.
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#2: Bacteria boosts your nutrient absorption
Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria enhance your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron as well as other vitamins and minerals. These minerals play a number of important roles in your body – they help initiate DNA synthesis, maintain healthy bones and teeth, regulate the acid/alkaline balance in your blood and many more. The better your body is able to absorb nutrients, the better your gut health will be.
#3: Bacteria fight off infection
Back in 1988, a US surgeon general report revealed that “normal microbial flora provide a passive mechanism to prevent infection”. Since then, a growing body of research has supported this finding. In 2008, an NIH study found that good bacteria in the gut can help the body fend off infection. In 2012, researchers at Arizona State University discovered that specific strains of bacteria can be beneficial in preventing food-borne infection, which refers to any illness resulting from the food spoilage of contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses or parasites that contaminate food.
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