Let’s hear it for our BFFs – Bacterial Friends and Foes


As you will see from the two excerpts from articles that have been published recently bacteria is both a friend and a foe.

All creatures, including of course humans, have an amazingly complex but effective system to distinguish between the two, and to ensure that we don’t come to harm. It is our Immune System.

This system has been evolving over hundreds of thousands of years and developing strategies to protect us every time it met with a new threat. This is often; as germs mutate when they meet resistance and our software needs frequent updating.

The majority of the bacteria in our body is designed to be there. These are the friendlies and our home defence team. Without a gut teeming with them many of our systems would grind to a halt, our brains would not function and our blood would uselessly circulate our bodies without anything to transport. Our food would not be processed and nutrients would not reach the organs that depend entirely on them to survive.

Along with the worker bacterial cells there are the front line soldiers who rush to our defence when we are under attack. Provided we have a healthy diet of unprocessed natural foods these fighters are in enough numbers to do the job. However, throw sugars and industrial food into the equation along with laziness and you rob your immune system of this vital defence component and you are open to attack.

One of the issues that is also playing a huge part in our downgrading of our anti-virus software is the overuse of commercial anti-bacterial products.  Not only can the active ingredients be harmful to us, but if too strong, their actions can prevent us coming into contact with bacteria needed for our immune systems to detect or develop andidotes.

Having said that, children need to be exposed to unlethal germs from an early age to develop their immature immune systems effectively.  Living in a home that is 99% germ free is a great concept but the world outside is 99% germ invested.  A child needs to be able to cope with that and can only do so if its defence system has been allowed to come up to standard.

In the posts on the immune system I will be looking at how it works and what it needs to do so.

In the meantime here are the excerpts that you might find very interesting.

First unless you are about to prepare to perform surgery and are prepared to scrub for 20 minutes, most of the products for domestic use do little except remove money from your wallet!


A survey by the American Cleaning Institute and the industry-run Personal Care Products Council revealed that 74 percent of Americans use antibacterial soap.

‘Fifty-six percent of them use it regularly, and, reportedly, 75 percent of moms with children in the household said they would be “angry” if antibacterial soap was no longer on the market.1

This “anger,” however, would be misplaced, since antibacterial soap manufacturers have been suggesting the products are necessary to fight germs, and insinuating they’re superior to plain soap and water in keeping away illness, for years.

Such soaps may have their place, such as in an operating room prior to surgery, but they’re being vastly overused in homes, schools, restaurants, and other settings with potentially devastating consequences.

Despite the reality, 84 percent of US adults surveyed said they have no health or environmental concerns about antibacterial soap.

The actual health and environmental risks of antibacterial soap have only relatively recently been uncovered, and they’re still not widely known, at least among consumers. Hopefully, the tide is beginning to turn, however, as yet another study has shown no significant benefit to using antibacterial soap’.

How to wash your hands.

As the article points out; most of us just give our hands a quick and dirty under some running water with a dab of the aforementioned anti-bacterial soap.  And quick and dirty it is because you need to lather up with ordinary soap and use water that is hot but not burning hot. Rub your hands together and go in between the fingers and ideally use a finger nail brush to get under the nails.. Lather up to your wrists and spend minimum 30 seconds and better still 40 seconds washing.

So how are you going to dry them.. to be honest it is impractical to have paper towels for the family but hand towels need to be changed very regularly and washed at a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria. This is particularly important if anyone in the family has a cold or other contractable illness. They should have paper towels that are disposed immediately.

sneeze three

Children (and dogs bless them) are bacteria ridden little mites (pardon the pun) especially when they get to school and mix with equally laden lovely little ones.  Teaching them to wash their hands from a very early age will help keep the rest of the family clear of some of the more common childhood diseases.

By the way if you are using public toilet facilities do remember that a high percentage of people do not wash their hands at all and use the handles to the stalls and the main door.

Now for the bad news for microphobes and if you are of a nervous disposition you might like to look away…..

Excerpt from the New Scientist on the subject of humans and bacteria.

Clare Wilson ■ Page 12 | NewScientist | 26 September 2015

We walk around in a cloud of our own microbes

HYGIENE obsessives – your worst fears have been confirmed. Everyone walks around enveloped in an airborne cloud of bacteria, a bit like the Peanuts character Pig-Pen, and some of the bugs come from our most intimate nooks and crannies.

“You are standing in another person’s microbial cloud the moment you shake hands,” says James Meadow of the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Our bodies are home to an estimated 100 trillion bacteria, viruses and fungi. People leave traces of their microbial communities on surfaces like their phones, and Meadow’s team wondered if the air around us also carries such signatures.

The group asked people to sit still in a small sterile room, and took samples from the air 1 metre away, and from the floor to catch falling bacteria.

Analysing the bacterial DNA, the team found many species that usually live on the skin and in the mouth, nose and gut, and in the case of women, the vagina. Nine of the 11 people tested had distinct personalised signatures of bacteria combinations (PeerJ, DOI: 10.7717/peerj.1258).

It’s possible that these clouds transmit disease. MRSA has been found living on the skin and noses of otherwise healthy people, so it could be in their clouds. Meadow suspects that respiratory viruses such as measles probably are too.

“In the future we could be recognising crime suspects by the bacterial mist they leave behind”

The results could have a forensic use, helping to place a suspect at a crime scene through their bacterial signature. “I don’t think it’s crazy to think that, in the future, we could be recognising people by their bacterial mist,” says Tim Spector of King’s College London.

But Meadow says the findings are just a first step. Volunteers in the study sat in the room for up to 4 hours, but in reality someone may spend only moments at a crime scene, and it would probably already be contaminated with the bugs of many other people.

Starting tomorrow the first in the series on the immune system which is an updated version from 2013. It is our first line of defence and the best private health insurance you can buy.

Image Lolsheaven.com

17 thoughts on “Let’s hear it for our BFFs – Bacterial Friends and Foes

  1. Pingback: Let’s hear it for our BFFs – Bacterial Friends and Foes | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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  3. My own thought is that we have become so microbe-phobic that we do a disservice to our kids – their immune systems need to be challenged! Wiping your entire house down with antibacterial whatever is doesn’t really do anything except encourage resistant bugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating and informative as always Sal. It’s so great you’re spreading awareness with this series. Many people are duped by the advertisements of antibacterial soaps. It was a different time growing up when we were kids and thought nothing of digging in the dirt and eating potato chips simultaneously with our dirty hands, building our immune systems without pesticides in the ground. I had to laugh as I had a chapter in my latest book about my germaphobic ways and the perils of public bathrooms. 🙂 xo

    Liked by 1 person

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