The “Good” Bacteria
PEssential for life

The “Good” Bacteria - Essential for life

We often prescribe probiotics for clients with gut or immune issues.  Why?  How do they work?  Are they really beneficial?


Well the answer is a simple yes.  Beneficial or “good” bacteria play a vital role in our bodies.  They possess enzymes which are lacking in humans that help break down and absorb otherwise indigestible substances such as sugars, starches, fibre, lactose, alcohols, mucous produced by the gut, proteins, vitamins and minerals.  They enhance the immune function’s response to pathogens, rather than allergens, thus helping to reduce allergies such as hayfever and eczema.  They increase the absorption of water into the gut thereby assisting with regular bowel function. By converting the nutrients we ingest to energy they help nourish the cells of the gut and repair them, which then improves the absorption of nutrients. There are around 400 species of good bacteria that live in your digestive tract – there are more bacteria living inside you then cells in your body, so when the “good” and “bad” bacteria are out of balance it can make you susceptible to:


  • Poor digestive function and poor metabolism

  • Irritable bowel syndrome with symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and/or flatulence

  • Immune dysfunction

  • Allergies, hayfever, food intolerances or eczema

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Vaginal thrush and candidiasis


So what affects this balance of bacteria?


  • Antibiotics are detrimental to our good gut flora as they are nonspecific – they kill any bacteria whether good or bad.

  • Poor diet – high in fat and low in fibre affect numbers of good bacteria in the gut

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Diarrhoea – if you’ve had a bout of this, then good bacteria would have been compromised.

  • Stress

  • Medications that suppress gastric acid production/secretion such as antacids

  • Being born by caesarian section means you did not start off with the right amount of good bacteria


There are many probiotic supplements available today.  Research has shown that specific bacteria strains are beneficial for treating different conditions. Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 have been shown to restore healthy gut bacteria especially after a course of antibiotics.  Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG may be beneficial for food allergies and eczema, Saccharoyces cerevisiae (boulardii) SB is an anti-inflammatory strain of bacteria effective in the prevention and treatment of travellers diarrhoea and yeast infections, Lactobacillus plant arum 299v helps reduce IBS symptoms, and Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 may reduce the symptoms and incidence of colds and flu’s by boosting immune system function.


But numbers of benefical bacteria can also be increased by including fibre in the diet, vegetables, fruits, and legumes, and reducing processed foods and alcohol.  Adding a pre-biotic to your eating regime can also assist in boosting up numbers of good bacteria.  Include fermented foods such as fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, miso, plain unsweetened yoghurt.  We also have a remedy with Epicor that is made up of a number of nutrients including a probiotic, vitamins and minerals that have gone through an involved fermentation process and has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the gut.