It is an awesome fact of nature that we have trillions of organisms within our body – containing completely foreign DNA – some of which break down toxic chemicals that we humans have created to kill other things, but are now killing us, e.g. pesticides. Who are these strange helpers?
Wait. Aren’t bacteria supposed to harm us? Aren’t they the enemy in the endless war against infection?
Well, when our immunity fails, some can grow out of bounds opportunistically. But they respond to the environment within which they are raised, not unlike most other creatures. Provide organic, wholesome vegetables, for instance, and you have a hotbed of positive activity in your gut. Provide sugar, processed foods and an increasing burden of chemicals and it can get ugly in there!
Also, believe it or not, ancient bacteria teamed up with our cellular ancestors eons ago to produce the energy-producing organelles within our cells called mitochondria. So, are we really that different from bacteria? No, on some level, we ARE bacteria, spurning some researchers to describe us as "meta-organisms," composed as we are of many different living systems working symbiotically.
So, let’s look at some of the amazing feats of these friendly bacteria….
- Bisphenol A Toxicity: Absorption/Excretion – Bisphenol A (BPA) is an increasingly omnipresent petrochemical derivative with endocrine-disrupting properties (i.e. it messes up your hormones!) and is found in thermal printer receipts, all world paper currency, plastics, and many other consumer goods. Sadly, it is not a matter of whether or not you will be exposed, but to what degree. Enter the probiotics Bifodobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei. In rats exposed to BPA in their diet, blood concentrations of BPA dropped significantly and it was excreted in their feces 2.4 times more readily than the non-supplemented control group. The researchers concluded that the probiotics "…reduced the intestinal absorption by facilitating the excretion of BPA, and that these probiotics may suppress the adverse effects of BPA on human health."
- Bisphenol A Toxicity: Degradation – Novel, bisphenol A-degrading bacterial strains were isolated from the traditional Korean fermented cabbage dish known as kimchi. Three isolates of Bacillus pumilus were shown capable of degrading BPA. The researchers reported that these food-derived bacteria would make efficient and safer systems for the removal of BPA. Logically, the consumption of kimchi (or the probiotics extracted from kimchi) would enable a human’s gastrointestinal tract to break down this harmful chemical, as well.
- Insecticide Toxicity – Here comes kimchi to the rescue again! In 2009, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed that the rather nasty insecticide chlorpyrifos (CP), which has been linked to neurological effects, developmental disorders and autoimmune disorders, may be no match for the bacteria that make possible kimchi fermentation. The researchers found the bacteria in kimchi turned CP into lunch (a source of carbon and phosphorous) and degraded it rapidly until day 3 (83.3% gone!) and degraded it completely by day 9! The superheroes in this story were identified as: Lactobacillus brevis WCP902, Lactobacillus plantarum WCP931, and Lactobacillus sakei WCP904. But then things got even more amazing…..
These toxin-muching superheroes were found to degrade four other insecticides:
- Coumaphos - Insecticide
If you think the chemical-munching and degrading abilities of probiotics are amazing, then consider that probiotics perform thousands of vital functions within our body, and have been clinically researched to prevent and/or reduce the symptoms of close to 200 different diseases. You can view the first-hand research on the benefits of probiotics on GreenMedInfo.com's research page dedicated to the topic.