Have you seen the ads? “This super soap or spectacular spray will kill every single germ or bacteria that live in your house” These popular messages lead us to believe that all bacteria are BAD. Okay, I agree that most of these tiny living beings are actually detrimental to health (especially the ones growing on your cellphone or your computer keyboard! Ugh!). However, others contribute to your health. Here’s why:
Your intestine contains 10 times more bacteria than the total number of cells in your entire body.That’s a lot of bacteria! Many different types are present in your intestine, which have their own particularities and function. But in general, their job consists in digesting the fiber included in your food (i.e., vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grain bread) and protecting you against illness by stimulating your immune system. To keep the bacteria present in your intestines happy, eat food high in fiber and some that contains probiotics (see below).
Some types of food production require bacteria.It might be surprising but it’s true. Let’s look at yogurt, for example. When these bacteria are added to milk and heated to a certain temperature, they acidify the milk. This process modifies the consistency of the milk proteins and makes yogurt! Bacteria are also responsible for the fermentation of cabbage into kimchi (a traditional Korean side dish).
Consuming probiotic bacteria reduces the risk of being sick.Probiotic bacteria can be found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir (fermented milk), kimchi, kombucha (sweet beverage) and in supplements. Scientific research shows that probiotics contribute to health by increasing the number of good bacteria in your intestine. It helps to prevent gastroenteritis and tourista (a nasty bug some people get when traveling). Also probiotics are often recommended to patients who take antibiotics to treat an infection.
See what we mean when we say “some bacteria are actually good for you”! However, that is not the case for all bacteria; so continue to wash your hands before eating and clean up that keyboard once in a while!
Stay tune for another upcoming myth buster!
by Genevieve Masson, Registered Dietitian for Best Teen Diets