Good and bad bacteria reside in your body. According to the recent news, human cells make up only 43% of the body’s total cell count. The rest are microscopic colonists composed of live and active bacteria, viruses, fungi, and archaea.
In this article:
- What are Live and Active Bacteria?
- Benefits of Active Bacteria Cultures on Gut Health
- Sources of Probiotics
All About Active Bacteria and Live Cultures
What are Live and Active Bacteria?
When one hears the word “bacteria” the first thing that comes to mind is the little critters that cause infections and diseases.
Although partly true, this may not always be the case. With the presence of harmful bacteria also exist good active bacteria that naturally reside in our body and are essential to our survival. There are about 100 trillion good and bad bacteria that live in the digestive system alone.
Good live and active bacteria are also referred to as probiotics. Probiotics are a combination of live and beneficial bacteria and yeast in the body. These bacteria help in ways such as fighting off harmful bacteria.
Some examples of good bacteria and yeast that exist in the body include:
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Saccharomyces boulardii
The human body is dependent on these bacteria to help digest food, produce certain vitamins, and regulate the immune system.
Benefits of Active Cultures on Gut Health
The gastrointestinal system, also known as the gastrointestinal tract, digestive system, or gut, is a group of organs that starts from the mouth and to the small intestine, colon, and rectum. This system serves as the body’s primary site of taking in and absorbing nutrients.
The significance of gut health extends from less susceptibility to sickness, immune system support, less inflammation, better emotional well-being, and brain health. The gut flora or gut microbiome encompasses trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses co-exist with our cells.
Other types of good bacteria can also:
- Keep harmful bacteria from making you sick
- Help create vitamins
- Support the cells in the gut to prevent bad bacteria (ingested through food or drinks) from entering the bloodstream
- Breakdown and absorb medications.
Research in animals suggests that changes in the gut flora—such as inflammation of the gut—can also affect the brain and cause symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, autism, anxiety, and depression.
Alongside a healthy lifestyle, exercise, stress reduction, and avoidance of unnecessary antibiotics, a healthier diet could restore the balance in the gut flora.
Sources of Probiotics
Firstly, for a microbe to be considered as a probiotic, it must have several characteristics. These include being able to:
- Be isolated from a human.
- Be safely consumed.
- Have a proven benefit to you.
- Survive in the intestine after being eaten.
Fermented products have reputable health benefits on general health and brain functionality.
Probiotics, also known as good bacteria, are present in fermented foods such as yogurt with live cultures and kifer. These active cultures found in fermented foods help increase the good bacteria in the digestive system.
Here are some of the most common fermented foods that help increase probiotics:
Yogurt comes from milk fermented with live cultures. The yogurt culture used to make yogurt include Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria that convert pasteurized milk to yogurt during fermentation.
However, some of the pre-heated products kill the active bacteria present in the food. When choosing yogurt, look for those with “active and live cultures”.
Miso is a seasoning in traditional Japanese cuisine. It is produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and kōji and other ingredients such as rice, barley, and seaweed.
Kimchi is a staple side dish served in Korean households and restaurants. It is made by salting and fermenting vegetables such as napa cabbage and radish.
Kombucha is made from sweetened black or green tea and then fermented with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, also known as SCOBY.
Sauerkraut is thinly sliced raw cabbage, salted, and stored for two to three weeks. It is known for its long storage life. You can eat sauerkraut as it is, as salad dressing, or even sandwiches or wraps.
Sourdough bread is a healthier alternative to regular bread. It is more digestible, less likely to cause spike blood sugar levels, and encourages good bacteria growth.
Fermentation in sourdough occurs when yeast and bacteria from a paste produce lactic acid, giving it a more sour taste.
Tempeh or tempe is a traditional Indonesian soy product made from fermented soybeans and is often made in cake form. Tempeh can be eaten raw, boiled, fried, or added to salads.
The human body comprises both good and bad bacteria. Consuming probiotics may help ensure a healthy gut. Together with a high fiber diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, these probiotics may help restore a healthy interplay between the gut, mind, and body in sync.
Good active bacteria are present in many foods. What is your favorite source of prebiotics? Let us know in the comments section below!