First and foremost, the bacteria in the stomach play a large role when it comes to digestion. While the body produces the enzymes and the stomach acids needed to break down food, our gut flora manage their own activities through which our body benefits.
In particular, bacteria help digest more complicated and complex carbohydrates. Some of the food that we eat “ferments” in our digestive tract, where it is broken down by bacteria. Once it is broken down into simpler particles, our body can readily absorb these as nutrients.
Bacteria are also responsible for producing some vitamins our body needs. Bacteria in our gut are useful in synthesizing vitamin K, as well as different B vitamins.
One example is vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin, which can not be synthesized by plants and animals to include humans, is created only by bacteria. This means that plants and animals rely indirectly on bacteria to obtain this vitamin. It then accumulates to tissues, and is being passed down to the consumer such as us humans.
Protection from disease
Another function of our gut flora is it aids in immunity. Some types of bacteria found in our digestive tract can stimulate immune cells, and help break down toxic compounds present in food and drink. Aside from this, the bacteria in our digestive tract can also fight off harmful bacteria that tries to invade and replace them.
Having a healthy gut flora contributes to stronger immune systems in adulthood, and is particularly important during the development of our immune systems. This is why it is important for babies to develop a healthy gut flora early on in life.
In fact, one procedure called fecal transplantation essentially takes good bacteria from another person’s gut and introduces it to another person’s. This can help treat conditions such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn disease, and other diseases that cause inflammation of the digestive tract.