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wiseGEEK: What are the Different Types of Digestive Bacteria?

There are many types of bacteria found in a person’s digestive tract. Some are digestive bacteria that aid in the process of digestion and help to ensure good health. Other types of bacteria may take up residence in the digestive tract and cause health problems. Among the types of bacteria that are found in the digestive tract are Lactobacillus. Bifidobacterium, and Escherichia.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a type of bacteria that lives in a person’s small intestine. It is considered to be a beneficial type of bacteria for a few reasons. This bacteria synthesizes vitamin K and has the ability to metabolize lactose. which is a type of sugar found in dairy products. It also produces substances that prevent harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying in the digestive tract. If a person doesn’t have enough of this bacteria in his digestive tract, digestion may be impaired.

Often, people focus on Lactobacillus acidophilus' ability to impair the growth of harmful bacteria. This digestive bacteria also aids the body in producing the B group of vitamins, however. The bacteria is also said to help keep cholesterol at normal levels.

Bifidobacterium is another type of friendly bacteria that is found in a person’s digestive tract. It

lives in a person’s large intestine and plays an important role in protecting the body against some types of yeast as well as bacteria that are harmful rather than helpful. This bacterium can interfere with bacteria that inflame the intestines and cause the affected person to experience diarrhea. It works by hampering the bacteria's ability to grow. It may also help the body to produce vitamin B.

Streptococcus thermophilus is a digestive bacteria that aids the body in making lactose enzymes. These enzymes are important for the digestion of milk products. This bacterium also helps keep a person’s gastrointestinal lining protected when milk and milk products go through the digestive process. In fact, this bacterium is even said to help people avoid the unpleasant symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Many people have heard of Escherichia coli, which is commonly abbreviated as E. coli. This type of bacteria is often the culprit when someone develops a digestive illness, such as those that cause vomiting and diarrhea. Escherichia coli is a whole group of bacteria, however, and some of them are friendly. Some strains of this digestive bacteria help the body digest plant foods. Some also help the body to produce vitamin K.

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