The Good Side of Bacteria

Probiotics may help maintain a healthy and happy gut — but make sure you choose the right sources.

April 7, 2023 | Source: Harvard Health Publishing | by Harvard Medical School

There are many things in life that can be categorized as coming in both good and bad versions. The same applies to bacteria.

Bad bacteria like salmonella and E. coli can make you sick. Good bacteria like the kind in probiotics play an important role in keeping us healthy.

These good bacteria interact with the intestinal lining to protect the body from harmful invaders. They help the immune system function properly, which means better ability both to fight infections and to dampen chronic inflammation.

Know your bacteria

Some research suggests that certain probiotics help relieve symptoms of gut-related conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

“Many people could probably benefit by increasing their intake of probiotics,” says Dr. Allan Walker, a professor of nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The problem is the unsubstantiated hype that probiotic supplements have far-reaching health potential, which can keep people from choosing the best sources.”