बैक्टीरिया : हमारे दोस्त या दुश्मन Bacteria : Friends or Enemies

Author : Dr. P. D.GUPTA

Former Director Grade Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India


We are swimming in an ocean of bacteria not only they are present in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, but they are also present in our body at least ten to hundred times more than the number if cells in our body. The number of cells in our body is 38 trillion whereas the number of bacteria, viruses, etc. is 39 trillion. We are dependent on them from birth to death and even after the death. 

They were created long before human beings were created. Once human beings were created they found shelter in their hair, nails, skin, mouth, and nose, and also invaded the body mainly in the gut, and therefore they were called ‘gut microbiota’.

The human gut microbiota is a source of understanding of how microbes are involved in digestion and disease processes.  They invaded us long before we realized that they were “good” or “bad” for us very late. The origin of “microbiota” can be dated back to the early 1900s. It was found that a vast number of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts, and viruses, coexist in various sites of the human body (gut, skin, lung, oral cavity).   Now they are so intimately associated that people started calling them the human     “hidden organ”, to our surprise, they are associated with depression Parkinson's disease, autism, and .genetic diversity, they are an essential component of our immunity and a functional entity that influences metabolism and modulates drug interactions.    

The gut microbiota are both disease-causing and work as medicine, the latter generally have and take relationship with the host. In a healthy person the ratio between them most of the time remains constant; however, if the ratio is disturbed due to many reasons, including changes in dietary conditions. The long tram imbalance between the two groups may turn out to be a serious health problem for the host. 

There are many causes of imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria. Mainly diet changes environment of the gut and due to which the balance between the two is disturbed. If this balance is not restored within a stipulated time either by therapy, withdrawal of antibiotics, introducing beneficial bacteria isolated from healthy person or checking  the causes of killing beneficial bacteria then conditions develop for chronic diseases such as inflammatory and immunological diseases. Researchers have shown the involvement of this imbalance in developing gastrointestinal cancers.  (The author has his own study and views)