Beneficial Bacteria

Do you think bacteria are evil – nasty microscopic things that do nothing but make us sick? Many people do. And they think we’d all be better off if bacteria were wiped off the face of the earth.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Good Types of Bacteria
Most strains of bacteria are harmless… or even beneficial. They peacefully co-exist with us the vast majority of the time. In fact, there are normally more bacteria in your colon then there are cells in your body.

Researchers are just starting to unravel the importance of normal bacteria to our health. Meanwhile we know that things go wrong when antibiotics take out the good with the bad.

Antibiotics don’t discriminate between bacteria that are causing disease and bacteria that are doing a good job for us. You may be taking an antibiotic for a skin infection, but the antibiotic doesn’t just go to the area of infection. It kills any bacteria in your body that are sensitive to it. This causes problems in a couple of ways.

First, it allows for the development of bacteria resistant to the antibiotic.

More immediately, you may experience diarrhea, a yeast infection, or a colon infection caused by Clostridium difficile. (Clostrium difficile – “C diff” in medical jargon – is a spore-producing bacterium that can overgrow and cause disease when normal bacteria in the bowel are disrupted.)

Taking a couple of steps will reduce your risk of these problems. First, take antibiotics only if you really need them. Second, if you do need them, take probiotic capsules (beneficial bacteria) while you’re taking the antibiotics and for at least a few weeks after you finish treatment.

[Ed. Note: Dr. Joseph McCaffrey is a board-certified surgeon with over 30 years of experience helping people overcome health problems using both conventional and complementary medical practices. For more information about the factors that empower people to attain optimal wellness, visit]