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Did you know that some bacteria are beneficial to humans? That’s right – not all bacteria are bad for us. In this article we explore bacteria and their relationship with the human body.

What does bacteria have to do with Kefir?

Kefir is made with beneficial bacteria

Kefir is made by fermenting Kefir grains – which are a cluster of beneficial bacteria, also known as live cultures – with fresh milk in an airtight container away from light. These live cultures feed off the lactose in the milk, allowing them to grow and reproduce.

The result? A cultured Dairy drink made with billions of live cultures and that’s high in protein.

Learn more about how to make Kefir

What’s the relationship between humans and bacteria?

Bacteria are microscopic, single-celled organisms that are neither plants nor animals that exist in their millions in every environment, both inside and outside other organisms.

Some of these bacteria are harmful and can make us sick, such as E.coli, but most serve a purpose, such as Lactobacilli which can help us digest milk.

We humans are in a mutualistic and symbiotic relationship with our bacteria, and we both benefit from this relationship – we help these bacteria live by giving them food and a home, and they help us digest food and connect the immune system.

The collection of this bacteria is known as the Human Microbiome, are these bacteria are found on the skin and in the nose, mouth and gut.

Bacteria and the Human Microbiome

Where do the bacteria that live in and on the human body come from?

We begin to colonise bacteria as soon as we’re born, getting our first of these microorganisms from our birth mothers.

As we grow, these bacteria types can change based on our diet and the foods we eat, what we’re exposed to (such as the individuals we meet / study / work with, pets, city or countryside living, the geographic locations, etc.), and various illnesses and life events.

How many bacteria do we have on our bodies?

There are more bacterial cells in and on our bodies than human cells, made up of over 1,000 species and 7,000 – 36,000 different strains. This includes both good bacteria (the kind that support our immune system and digestive functions) and bad (those which can harm these functions).

How much do the bacteria in your gut collectively weigh?

There are over 1 trillion bacteria in the gut, which covers the entire digestive tract, weighing in at over 1.5kg.

The different areas of the digestive tract offer different environments for bacteria to grow, meaning different bacteria will prefer to live in different parts. The majority of bacteria live in the large intestine.

Prebiotics, probiotics and the connection with bacteria

What is a prebiotic

Prebiotics are types of dietary fibre that feed the bacteria in the gut, helping them to thrive and support a healthier digestive system.

Oligosaccharides are larger, more complex carbohydrates that are able to survive through the digestive tract to reach the large intestine relatively unharmed. The large intestine is where the majority of your gut bacteria live, providing them with a great food source.

What is a probiotic?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to the human body, especially the digestive system. They’re thought to help restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut when it’s been disrupted, such as by an illness.

How do ‘good bacteria’ help us?

Bacteria can support us in a number of ways, including:

  • Digestion: bacteria help break down our food
  • Preventing illness: bacteria are our first line of defence against illness, and can either take up space or food the harmful bacteria would claim, or actively fight them off
  • Immune function: 70-80% of your immune cells are in your gut
  • Connecting the gut and brain: while we know the gut and the brain are connected via the enteric nervous system, researchers are beginning to understand more about the link between the gut and the brain – including the link between the food we eat and our mood/mental health.

Learn more about the connection between gut health / brain connection on our page: Kefir and the Link with Gut Health

Discover the Biotiful range of Kefir drinks and snacks