Bacteria don’t deserve to only have a bad reputation. Most are harmless. Less than 1 % cause illness and disease. And trillions of other bacteria on your skin, and inside your lungs and gut (intestines, stomach and mouth) are actually important for good health.

Gut bacteria

Through the evolution of mankind, gut bacteria have co-evolved with us and now provide health benefits such as:

  • Digest certain foods the stomach and small intestine aren’t able to digest
  • Produce vitamins B and K
  • Protect against illness and disease-causing bacteria by maintaining the wholeness of the lining of the gut
  • Help the body’s immune system fight off bacteria that cause illness and disease

Your gut bacteria (also called microbiota) are made up of 150 to 170 different types of bacteria. One third are the same as most other people. But two-thirds are unique to you, just like your fingerprints.

Research is starting to find that your risk of irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune and allergy disorders, type 2 diabetes and obesity, is associated with the balance (amounts) of the different types of bacteria in your gut.

More studies are needed, however gut bacteria may be used in the future to help diagnose and treat these conditions.


Antibiotics are medications that fight bacterial infections that cause illness and disease. But they also can change the balance of your gut bacteria for the worse.

Probiotics, which are bacteria and yeasts in foods such as yoghurt or in supplements (pills or powder), can restore a healthy balance and prevent diarrhoea caused by antibiotics. Studies have also found that probiotics may possibly help in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance and the common cold.

More information

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