One thing is for sure, we cannot escape or live without bacteria. It is necessary for the life of our planet and all the species which inhabit it. Human’s relationship with bacteria, however, is complex and delicate. There are both good bacteria and bad bacteria, and sometimes it lends a hand, keeping us healthy, and other times it leads to disease and destruction.
What are Bacteria?
Bacteria are single-celled organisms that can be found pretty much everywhere on earth. You can find them in the soil, water, on your skin, and even inside our bodies. Without bacteria, there would be no soil for plants to grow, and our bodies would not be able to properly digest foods. Click To Tweet
Characteristics of Bacteria
Bacteria are classified into five basic shapes:
- Spherical (cocci)
- Rod (bacilli)
- Spiral (spirilla)
- Comma (vibrios)
- Corkscrew (spirochaetes)
They exist as single cells, as well as in pairs, chains, and clusters. They reproduce by doubling and splitting into two identical daughter cells. Bacteria are survivors and adapt as their environment changes.
Many factors influence the growth of bacteria, such as moisture, temperature, and pH. Scientists are now studying the living processes of bacteria and have found that it is these processes and the wastes they give off that determines whether it will give us benefits or possibly cause disease.
Differences in Bacteria
- Good Bacteria–Good bacteria has been used for centuries in making pickles, cheese, yogurts, and vinegar. We all have good bacteria in our guts and it helps break down our foods, allowing proper digestion. We also use bacteria to help clean up oil spills and break down sewage.
- Bad Bacteria–Only a small handful of bacteria are harmful and capable of causing disease. These are called pathogenic.To cause disease, these pathogenic bacteria invade a living organism due to poor hygiene, unsanitary water, and poor sewage treatment centers.
Bacteria and Human Health
The human gut is the perfect environment for bacteria, with a plethora of nutrients available for them to thrive. When our immune systems are properly functioning, we can help prevent colonization by harmful pathogens. However, if there is a disruption of your good gut bacteria, your entire system can be thrown off, leading to illness and disease. Some examples of these bad, invasive bacteria are:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae which causes pneumonia
- A Streptococcus
- Escherichia coli
- Staphylococcus aureus
Many of these bacteria are harmless on your skin and outside the body but can become deadly if they enter the bloodstream through cuts on the skin or by ingestion. These bacteria can cause infections affecting tissues, muscles, nerves, fat, and blood cells, but can be treated if caught early.
Antibiotics and Bacteria
Antibiotics are typically used to treat bacterial infections, however, with improper and unnecessary use over the past years, several strains of bacteria have become antibiotic resistant. According to the CDC, at least 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant strains each year. This leads to the death of approximately 23,000 people per year. It is important to use antibiotics intelligently and only during a clear-cut bacterial infection.
Good Bacteria and Our Bodies
Scientists are finding that humans require bacterial contact from young ages in order to educate your immune system between good bacteria and bad bacteria. You need to be in contact with both, but with the western society’s obsession with antibacterial products, there’s an increased risk of developing immune-related conditions that will not allow protection when introduced to bad bacteria
To learn more about good bacteria and bad bacteria and how they affect your body, Contact Us.