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February 2018

Fact or fiction: All bacteria are bad [series]

Written by Peta Florus
Cleanliness and Hygiene

Yin and Yang of bacteria. What’s your reaction when you hear the word bacteria?  Do you think and expect the worst? 

Bacteria is bad and causes illnesses and could make you horribly sick! That’s one of the reasons we stock up on things like anti-bacterial soaps, hand sanitising sprays and toilet seat wipes. And when we do fall ill, we expect our medical practitioners to prescribe antibiotics to kill off the bacteria causing the illness.

Have you ever stopped to wonder that maybe some of these bacteria we keep fighting off might actually be beneficial for us? We’ve all heard of probiotics which most of us use when we’re on antibiotics to replace the good bacteria in our gut, but are there other bacteria which could be beneficial for us?

Bacteria are everywhere - in the environment and our bodies, like on our skin, in our mouths and intestines. For example: good or friendly bacteria line our intestines and allow our bodies to digest the foods we eat and absorb the nutrients we need, and also to fight off the bad or illness causing bacteria.

The friendly bacteria, commonly known as probiotics,  can be found in many foods like yoghurt, buttermilk, and naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and even beer.  (Note to self: Beer’s good for you!)

Probiotics are members of the Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium genera. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the beneficial bacteria in our bodies:

Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in dairy products and are added to miso, tempeh, yogurt. They are found in parts of the body that have an acidic pH like the oral cavity, intestines and the vagina and they help to strengthen the immune system.

Tobacillus acidophilus, another acid-loving bacteria found in buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, and frozen desserts. Commonly known as “lactic acid bacteria” they convert sugar and carbohydrates into lactic acid. They can also prevent gastrointestinal infections and used in cheese making.

Lactobacillus reuteri is found in the intestines of animals and in milk products like yogurt and cheese.

Lactobacillus plantarum, found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and miso, can improve the immune system and protect the body against illness causing bacteria.

Bifidobacteria make up most of the “good” bacteria living in the gut.

Bifidobacteria bifidum is said to relieve the symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

Bifidobacteria lactis has been reported to improve cholesterol levels in women and in people with type 2 diabetes.

Acidophilus bifidus cleanses the blood by removing toxins and can boost your immune system.

Rhizobium,  found in a natural ecosystem and helpful in converting nitrogen in the soil.

Streptococcus thermophilus is used during cheese making and also sometimes to produce pasteurized milk. It is used to treat diarrhea and maintain a healthy digestive system.

Streptococcus faecium helps to prevent and treat diarrhea and maintain a healthy digestive system.  They can also alleviate symptoms of nasal cavity infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and baby colic.

Escherichia coli normally lives inside our intestines, where it helps our bodies to break down and digest the foods we eat.

Initial being a company providing bathroom hygiene; let’s look at some bacteria found in the bathrooms which are harmful

E-coli  is one we all know. Found in faeces of both humans and animals. Therefore hand washing or sanitising and daily cleaning of all the surfaces in the bathroom like the toilet seat, bathroom floor, soap and even the doorknob is imperative.

Streptococcus can be found on the skin especially hands and causes sore throats. Again hand washing or sanitising is extremely important to stop the spread of illness or disease.  Hand towels should also be changed and cleaned regularly. Liquid soaps are also a better option than bar soaps which can harbour bacteria.

Salmonella poisoning is commonly caused from undercooked or raw foods (like pork or chicken) which are contaminated but also from not closing the toilet lid before flushing and not washing your hands after using the toilet. The first signs of an infection is stomach cramps, diarrhoea or nausea which could lead to vomiting and headaches.

Norovirus is highly contagious and causes gastrointestinal illnesses. This bacteria is also found in faeces and transmitted from person to person which is why once again hand washing or sanitising and good hygiene is so important.

It is clear that prevention of the spread of bacteria can be minimised by good hygiene practices like hand washing or sanitising, and daily cleaning of your bathroom or ablution facility.

Initial Bathroom Services can provide you with a custom solution to suit your office needs and includes a range of hand washing, sanitising and drying options. Our specialised intensive deepcleaning service uses friendly bacteria called bio-enzymes and this service is coupled with our free anti-bacterial fogging service. Together they will reduce the risk of cross infection ensuring a healthier office environment and thereby reducing your absenteeism rate.

Read more about the Future of Hygiene and good bacteria can be utilised in our everyday lives.

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Bacteria is easily spread through cross-contamination. Hand washing is a simple and effective way to prevent this cross-contamination. Download our hand hygiene posters to remind people to wash their hands and help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.

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Peta Florus

Peta Florus

Peta is the Marketing Analyst at Rentokil Initial and has over the years been exposed to all aspects of both the hygiene and pest businesses, sometimes in too much gruesome detail. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences by adding a humorous twist to her blogs while subtly creating awareness around the benefits of good hygiene, and inspiring people to take up the hygiene challenge and combat germs and pests at home and in the workplace. You can find Peta on Linkedin.

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