In most people, the word bacteria will elicit the image of tiny, nasty bugs that causes diseases. But the truth is that only a small percentage of bacteria cause disease and majority of them are actually beneficial to man in one way or another. Frankly speaking, there is no bacteria free (sterile) man alive.
According to a 2004 study, most biochemical and physiological processes in the body will grind to a halt without the presence of bacteria.
So what are friendly the bacteria? In man, they are species of bacteria that normally lives in and outside the human body. They are also called normal microflora or probiotics. They are almost everywhere on the human body; the hair hands, mouth, gut and reproductive organs.
A normal, healthy man is not sterile. A sterile man will not last long in this world. He/She will be colonized so fast by the bad guys (pathogenic bacteria) and will be dead before long. That is to show how important these friendly organisms are to humans.
How do we acquire these good guys (bacteria)?
The human body is colonized by many microorganisms right from birth, many of them beneficial. This continues throughout the life of the individual especially through food. Many fermented dairy foods such as yoghurt and pickles contain probiotic, beneficial microorganisms.

How does probiotics benefit humans?
There many ways friendly bacteria benefits humans and some of these are outlined below:

  • Competitive inhibition: It happens all the time in the real world. It also happens in the microbial world. For example, there are species of bacteria that live on and prevent colonization of the skin by harmful (pathogenic) bacteria simply by simply competing with them. They deprive the intruders of space and nutrients. This is simple and effective. This is akin to the police stopping criminals simply by giving them no space to breath. Probiotic organisms also secrete chemicals (bacteriocins) which prevent the growth of dangerous pathogenic bacteria.
  • Efficient digestion:
    In the gastrointestinal tract, bacteria help in digestion, prevents colonization by harmful bacteria and research has shown that they can help in weight loss. There are diverse mechanisms of action of these friendly microorganisms in the body.

What conditions lead to humans having imbalance of microflora?

No two people, however identical they may be, have the same microflora. There are many factors responsible for this.
Diet: One major way through which friendly bacteria gets into the body is through diet. Probiotic organisms are commonly found in feremented foods and recently have been produced commercially for consumption. It stands to reason that people whose diet consists of fermented foods and dairy products will have much more probiotic organisms than those who do not.

 Immunity: The immunity level varies from one individual to another. On its own, the immune system does a good job of protecting the body. In collaboration with the friendly bacteria, they do a terrific job of warding away intruders. However, immunocompromised individuals such as HIV/AIDS patients are at risk of having pathogenic bacteria breaching their immune their systems. Diet, genetics and overall health are other factors that affect the immune status

 Antibiotics use: Antibiotics are used to treat various ailments. However, antibiotics do not discriminate between good or bad bacteria. As far as they are concerned, all bacteria are to be killed. Extensive antibiotics therapy while killing the targeted rouge organism may also wipes away all beneficial bacteria thereby leaving the host defenseless.

 In addition, normal microfolora in the absence of competition or on introduction to another part of the body where they don’t normally exist may suddenly become an opportunistic pathogenic.

Why the sudden interest in probiotics?
The threat of antibiotic resistance, research has turned to the use of these beneficial bacteria as safe and efficient methods of disease prevention and treatment with common examples from the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

It is all a simple system of using the good guys to lay off the bad guys.

Author's Bio: 

Author’s Bio: Sunday Bamiteko is a freelance writer from West Africa specializing in the health and fitness niche. His website is: and he can be reached at