We all know by now to social distance and diligently disinfect our surroundings, especially our hands, in order to stop the spread of the Coronavirus as well as other viruses and bad bacteria. However, in these unfamiliar times we forget that not all germs are bad. Deborah Weatherspoon, from Healthline states that in fact, we are the home to an estimated 100 trillion beneficial bacteria, which the majority of the time live in our gut. We not only live peacefully with these bacteria, but they play a big part in our survival. Although it is easy to be scared by bacteria given the world’s current state, we should remember they are not always the bad guy as they can often behave as a protector to our immune system. Good bacteria protect our bodies by helping to digest food, absorb nutrients, and generate vitamins such as folic acid, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12 in the intestinal tract. Beneficial bacteria also protect our bodies from dangerous bacteria that bring diseases by crowding them in the gut, and stopping growth by producing acids, which ultimately stimulates the immune system to fight them off (2016).
Along with social distancing and washing our hands, another way to protect ourselves against the coronavirus is boosting our immune system with good bacteria. Bacteria, also called microbes or collectively known as the microbiome, are a great way to protect us from the virus due to their ability to fight off infectious pathogens. According to Jill Seladi-Schulman from Healthline, a pathogen is an organism that causes disease. One of the more common types of pathogens being viruses like Covid-19 (2019). Tim Spector, a Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College states: “The best way to increase microbiome diversity is by eating a wide range of plant-based foods, which are high in fibre, and limiting ultra-processed foods including junk food. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains; healthy fats like high-quality extra virgin olive oil; and lean meat or fish. Avoid alcohol, salt, sweets and sugary drinks, and artificial sweeteners or other additives” (2020).
Deborah Weatherspoon from Healthline also states that probiotics are a good way to eat healthy bacteria. Probiotics come in many forms, including supplement pills, suppositories, and creams. Foods that contain friendly bacteria, such as: yogurt, buttermilk, and cheeses with live active cultures are also a good way to ingest probiotics. Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria and Streptococcus thermophilus are different types of probiotics that help build your immune system with good bacteria. Lactobacillus bacteria are found in the digestive, urinary, and genital systems. Lactobacillus will help treat traveler’s diarrhea, improve the immune system barrier against invading disease-causing bacteria and help block the growth of Helicobacter pylori which is the bacteria that causes peptic ulcers. Bifidobacteria make up most of the good bacteria living in our gut, which begins growing almost immediately after we’re born. They improve cholesterol levels in women and in people with Type 2 diabetes and also relieve abdominal pain, gas, and bloating. Lastly, there is Streptococcus thermophilus which produces the enzyme lactase, which helps the body digest sugar in dairy products ultimately preventing lactose intolerance (2016).
In summary, eliminating junk and incorporating different probiotics are great ways to build your immune system and prevent sickness. The coronavirus largely affects the medically compromised, which is why it is important to find ways to build your immune system’s strength and overall health. Instead of running away from germs, use helpful bacteria to your advantage in order to stay safe and healthy.