What are the harmful properties of microorganisms

Bacteria: disease-causing agents or useful helpers?

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As part of the federal emergency brake, the hygiene regulations for shopping have been tightened again.
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When it comes to bacteria, most people think of pathogens: salmonella, colds or other infections. Most bacterial strains are harmless or even do us good. We could hardly live without bacteria. A thick film of bacteria protects our skin. Trillions of bacteria digest food in the intestines. Last but not least, they do a good job in making cheese and antibiotics, but also in breaking down rubbish. Read where bacteria are useful and where they are harmful.

Seven peculiarities of bacteria

  1. Bacteria are microscopic living things that consist of only one cell.
  2. They multiply through cell division.
  3. Under the right conditions, the number of bacteria can increase rapidly.
  4. Bacteria are extremely adaptable.
  5. Some live with oxygen (aerobes), others without (anaerobes), some can do both.
  6. Some species can withstand extremely high or low temperatures.
  7. They have a variety of shapes: there are spherical bacteria (cocci), rods or spirals.

Friend or foe, useful or harmful?

Around 6,000 types of bacteria are known, but most of them have probably not yet been discovered. Most bacteria are peaceful or even useful. A few cause serious illness.

However, many bacteria are not clearly good or bad. They only cause problems under certain conditions. For example, when the environment changes, when they multiply too much or when our body is weakened.

Food spoilers and pathogens

For example, harmful bacteria cause food to rot. Some of them form toxins and cause food poisoning - such as Clostridium botulinum in spoiled canned food. Possible pathogens also include salmonella, Escherichia coli or various staphylococci and streptococci. For example, bacteria can cause inflammation or tooth decay.

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Protect skin and aid digestion

On our skin there is a protective film made up of numerous bacteria that normally ward off pathogens. Most bacteria, however, live in the intestine, mostly in the large intestine. There they break down food residues and thus support digestion.

Useful intestinal bacteria such as lactic acid and bifidobacteria can help displace pathogenic bacteria. When food is broken down, they form short-chain fatty acids that supply the intestinal mucosa with energy.

numbers and facts

  • Our body has 10 trillion cells.
  • 100 trillion bacteria colonize our body.
  • 10 billion bacteria live in the oral cavity.
  • 1 trillion bacteria cover our skin.
  • 100 trillion bacteria live in the intestine, especially in the large intestine

Natural food and medicine factory

With the help of bacteria, delicious foods are produced, such as yogurt, cheese, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, vinegar and wine. Antibiotics and other drugs as well as hormones and enzymes are also produced by bacterial cultures.

Bacteria in the soil decompose dead material and thereby make the nutrients available to plants. Special bacteria are even used to break down garbage or to purify sewage.

So bacteria are of much more use to us than they are to harm!

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