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Bacteria That Are Good for You

On March 26, 2001 MSNBC ran a story called "Friendly Infections". The basis of the story is that when we kill bacteria involved with a cold, we are not only creating stronger harmful bacteria, but we are also causing problems with the normal bacteria that are supposed to be in our bodies.

The story mentions that our bodies contain approximately 400 species of helpful or "friendly" bacteria, known as "probiotics." Most of these can be found clinging to the walls of our stomachs and intestines.

It has been known for some time that these friendly bacteria aid in our digestion, ward off other harmful microbes and help us process folic acid and other critical nutrients. These friendly bacteria come from many sources including, breast milk, yogurt, buttermilk, fermented cheese, cultured milk and fermented soybeans. Scientists have long suspected a link between these microbes and good health. A Russian bacteriologist Elie Metchnikoff won a Nobel Prize in the early 1900s for linking yogurt consumption to longevity.

Studies suggest that having a good supply of these friendly bacteria can help ward off bladder infections, vaginal infections, even sexually transmitted diseases. Europeans regularly include things such as yogurt and fermented milk into their diet and consider these to be assisting in good health. Unfortunately, Americans consume fewer fermented dairy products than any other developed country. Not so coincidentally, Americans have a very high rate of digestive problems.