In the digestive tract, we distinguish between two types of intestinal bacteria: the harmful, putrefactive bacteria and the health-promoting, friendly bacteria, which are also known as probiotic bacteria.
Good and bad gut bacteria
The intestinal flora or the microbiome is home to a large number and variety of different microorganisms. These include bacteria and fungi in particular. Some bacteria are considered to be rather harmful, e.g. B. the putrefactive bacteria. Others are identified as useful, e.g. B. lactobacteria and bifidobacteria. The beneficial bacteria are referred to collectively as probiotic bacteria or probiotics.
Lactobacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus also predominates in the healthy vaginal flora, which – if present in sufficient quantities – prevent the colonization of fungi and can thus prevent vaginal yeast infections.
E. coli: Bad gut bacteria create toxic substances
Bad gut bacteria, such as putrefactive bacteria (E. coli), break down proteins to produce a variety of toxic substances, including indole and skatole.
These foul-smelling substances give the feces its typical odor, and their derivative, indican, is found in sweat and urine, which smell hardly more pleasant. The smell of our excretions alone indicates a possible miscolonization of our intestines.
The more odorless stool, sweat, and urine are, the more perfectly our digestion works, the cleaner our digestive system is, and the more harmoniously the microorganisms in our intestines work.
Lactobacteria: Friendly gut bacteria maintain the balance
The friendly lactobacteria primarily produce lactic acid, but also acetic acid, digestive enzymes, and vitamins. Those that produce lactic acid are known as lactobacteria and bifidobacteria. The two best-known and most important types are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium Bifidus.
Lactobacteria and bifidobacteria are the natural opponents of coliform bacteria and keep the intestinal environment in balance. One speaks of an ideal proportion of the bacterial strains when the beneficial bacteria predominate in the large intestine with 85 percent.
In such a case, the presence of putrefactive bacteria at 15 percent is not so tragic as it can be kept under control by the beneficial bacteria.
Lactobacteria for healthy digestion
The health-promoting intestinal bacteria produce, among other things, digestive enzymes. So, they help maintain the body’s healthy digestive functions, while at the same time limiting the activity of the putrefactive bacteria.
If these bacteria, which are positive for us, are missing or only present in insufficient quantities, the food supplied cannot be digested properly.
Incompletely digested food, however, gets “stuck” in the intestines and offers the harmful putrefactive bacteria a comfortable place to live. They slowly rot the undigested particles.
This creates unpleasant-smelling and sometimes highly toxic gases. But it is precisely these gases that can cause other symptoms that are hardly ever associated with an unbalanced intestinal flora or an intestine in need of rehabilitation.
This includes, for example, diffuse feelings in the head, exhaustion, listlessness, concentration problems, and many more. If flatulence is not remedied, it is known that it can lead to the so-called Roemheld syndrome, which manifests itself as heart pain, but its cause actually lies in the intestines.
When is it advisable to build up the intestinal flora?
A balanced intestinal flora in which the ratio between E. coli and lactobacteria is right is therefore extremely desirable for various reasons. Unfortunately, beneficial intestinal bacteria are very sensitive. They can be influenced and unfortunately decimated by many different factors.
This includes acidification of the body, taking certain medications (e.g. antibiotics), some vaccinations, excessive psychological and mental stress, alcohol consumption, little sleep, etc.
When is it advisable to build up the vaginal flora?
Many women suffer from the constant recurrence of yeast infections in the vagina. The reason is reduced activity and thus reduced resistance of the vaginal flora. The vagina should normally have a pH of 3.8 to 4.4.
Such a low pH is too acidic even for acid-loving fungi. If now the pH value of the vagina – due to various influences such. poor diet, antibiotics, stress, exaggerated hygiene, etc. – increases (e.g. to 5 or higher), the environment becomes uncomfortable for the healthy vaginal flora on the one hand but highly attractive for fungi on the other, and so the latter settle.
A fungal infection is favored if the patient consumes plenty of isolated carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour products and at the same time only eats food that is poorly rich in vital substances. Of course, the factors mentioned above (antibiotics, stress, etc., or even cold) can also trigger or promote incorrect colonization of the vaginal flora.
In order to keep the vaginal flora acidic, the vagina should also be supplied with lactic acid bacteria while taking antibiotics.
The optimal start for the supply of beneficial bacteria (lactobacteria) is in the middle of the course of antibiotics. However, it should be remembered that the partner must also take part in an antifungal treatment (sugar-free and alkaline diet, development of the intestinal flora) in order to achieve long-term success and prevent constant relapses.
Bifidobacteria: How Beneficial Gut Bacteria Can Help Premature Babies
As a joint study by the German Institute for Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE) and the Ernst von Bergmann Clinic in Potsdam shows, children born prematurely thrive better if they take in probiotic bifidobacteria (Bifidobacterium lactis) in addition to their food.
Premature babies who had to be treated with antibiotics due to infection could be fed naturally earlier with the help of the probiotic intestinal bacteria and gained weight faster than children who did not receive the probiotic.
In addition, the probiotic improved the defense against infection of premature babies.