Give or take a few million there are around seven billion people living on planet Earth but in your gut are several trillion other creatures known collectively as bacteria.
These microorganisms invade our bodies the moment we are born and play a crucial part in the digestive system
throughout the rest of our lives.
There are around five hundred different species but no-one knows for sure because once outside the body they are impossible to cultivate. Only a few have been identified and their purpose fully understood. Some of these are cultivated in products that can be ingestedand are collectively known as probiotics.
Many people buy Threelac that is one of the oldest and most recommended of the probiotics but equally live yoghurt, Kefir and other known natural products can help boost good flora in the gut.
Most bacteria live in the digestive tract with particular hotspots in the mouth and the intestines. The small intestine is where most of the breaking down of foods to the point where nutrients are able to be absorbed goes on.
Bacteria have specific jobs and in the small intestine there are some that reduce some otherwise indigestible carbohydrates into short-chain fatty acids.
If we need proof that bacteria play such an important part in the breakdown of food to aid absorption of nutrients, we need only look at a recent rat experiment.
As is so often the case rats were used in this experiment although animal rights activists need not worry about any mistreatment. The rats were merely bought into life in a completely sterile environment and only fed treated bacteria free food.
It was found that with no gut bacteria the rats had to eat 30% more food than rats with natural gut bacteria to maintain their weight.
For thousands of years in some parts of the world there was a non-scientific but wholly intuitive belief that certain probiotic drinks aided a healthy digestive system. Products like Threelac are just the modern equivalent of these ancient drinks.