How bacteria keep us healthy City of health Berlin

The image of the bacteria is bad. Many think about dirt and disease. But that’s only one side. Trillions of beneficial microorganisms live on and in our bodies, protecting us from infections and keeping us healthy.

Bacteria give us diseases such as pneumonia, tick-borne Lyme disease, cholera, an often fatal intestinal infection and syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease. And: cystitis, which is not as dangerous but all the more annoying, which according to scoffers could be God’s punishment for sex.

Do all bacteria make you sick?

So the question is justified: do all bacteria cause disease? “In reverse!” reads clearly at the “Federal Center for Health Education” (BZgA). “Only about one percent of all bacteria cause disease in humans. Many bacteria are even important for our health ”.

Trillions of microorganisms inhabit our body

Trillions of microorganisms – most of them bacteria – also live on our bodies: on the skin, in the mouth, intestines, lungs or vagina. Here they actively help protect us from infections and keep us healthy. Microbiologists estimate that our bacterial co-inhabitants are as numerous as the cells of the human body. For a man weighing 70 kilograms, scientists estimate the number of bacteria at around 38 trillion. Together they weigh about 200 grams and thus reach the mass of a smaller organ. For comparison: a kidney weighs around 150 grams, a heart around 300.

Gut bacteria have an effect on the brain

The density of bacteria is particularly high in the intestine: there are about 100 billion bacteria per milliliter of intestinal content in the large intestine. The bacteria of the intestinal flora support digestion, produce vitamins and remove possible pathogens. In addition, the products of their metabolism can act as messenger substances and affect more distant organs and even the brain. Additionally, about 70 percent of all immune cells are found in the gut. Because here there is intense contact between the bacteria and the immune system, which influence each other.

Disturbed intestinal flora makes you susceptible to infections

If the intestinal flora becomes unbalanced – for example due to the intake of antibiotics, severe stress or an unhealthy lifestyle – experts speak of dysbiosis. So pathogenic bacteria can take over and impair the function of the immune system. This can manifest itself as an acute gastrointestinal infection, but also in increased susceptibility to respiratory infections.

Due to dysbiosis, some people suffer from widespread intestinal disorders up to and including irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by recurrent, often crampy abdominal pain accompanied by bloating and gas, and altered bowel movements, such as diarrhea or constipation, or both, all without an apparent cause.

Microbiological medicine: healing through bacteria

Meanwhile, medicine has even developed its own approach to maintaining or restoring human health with the help of bacteria: “microbiological therapy”. When healing through bacteria, medicines containing bacteria are used: for example, to reduce the number of recurrent inflammation of the sinuses and bronchi or to treat irritable bowel syndrome.

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