‘PROBIOTICS!’ Everyone I’ve canvassed lately as not only heard of these micro-sized, (supposedly) super-molecules, they seem to know exactly what they are and what they are for – digestive harmony. Despite the fact the ‘scientific-jury’ is currently out on the actual benefits, I’m such a believer that I quietly commend myself whilst eating my daily yoghurt-based breakfast, convinced it’s the cure to many of my dietary sins.
But what about bacteria in general? And given I know bacteria is everywhere, how important is it to us in other parts of our lives?
Being a certified biologist with a huge interest in nutrition, I thought I was pretty clued up on the basics of the human body. That was until I recently discovered a rather shocking fact…that my ‘body’ is actually made up of 90% bacteria or ‘microbiota’ …that’s right, for every cell in my body, I’m supporting the lives of 9 microbes! They are on my skin, in my ears, throughout my digestive systems and yes, in my mouth, throat and nasal passages.
And I’m not alone, or unique. Happy to say – ‘congratulations’, you too are the proud owners of your very own bacterial ecosystems.
Fortunately, just like the good bacteria in our guts, there are good, or ‘friendly’ microbes everywhere, in fact over 70% of microbes are thought to be either neutral or supportive to our daily lives – lets call it a mutually beneficial relationship.
One of the richest environments for our microbes is the mouth and throat – the so called ‘bacterial battle zone’ of the human body; there are over 500 bacteria types found in your mouth alone (yes 500!)…hopefully that will make you think twice before licking the spoon during your baking.
A short history on Streptococcus salivarius and the amazing Professor Tagg
Of these many types of bacteria in our mouths, Streptococcus is probably the most famous…or infamous. You’ve probably heard of ‘strep throat’ which is caused by the nasty S. pyogenes species. But Streptococcus has over 50 species and some of them are indeed friendly.
S. salivarius is one of these naturally occurring ‘friendly’ bacteria and they start populating your mouth within a few hours of birth – some speculate its passed on from our mothers first kiss…awe thanks mum!
These little guys have been the basis for a lifetime of research by our hero Professor John Tagg, the self-styled ‘spokesperson for the germs’, a microbiologist at Otago University in New Zealand. I first met Professor Tagg when he bounded in to my (rather dull) first year biology lecture, telling us his dream was to ‘cure the world of Strep Throat’ (a condition he’d suffered through as a child).
He knew that people that suffered from this debilitating illness were lacking a strain of this S. salivarius that non-sufferers seemed to maintain. He reckoned, if he could give this strain to suffers, he could improve the lives of children the world over. Being very impressed by Prof. Tagg’s energy and charisma, as a ‘non-sufferer’ I dutifully donated my saliva to his cause.
Many years later, on a pilgrimage back to the homeland, there was Prof. Tagg on the breakfast news talking about his research, and turns out he had done it! He had isolated a particularly powerful strain in children. Not only did this strain appear to support the mouth and throat, it was also supportive for people suffering from bad breath.
He has since received funding, patents and has created what is now know as the BLIS K12TM, a lozenge form of the live culture. And he didn’t stop there, the mighty Professor has also discovered another powerful strain of Streptococcus for the teeth and gums known as BLIS M18TM.
Needless to say, I’m already a big fan, so big in fact we at Nekta Nutrition jumped at the chance to launch this as our flagship product.
I don’t have to tell you all about how great these products are, you can find a bunch of studies from all over the world here and you can google BLIS K12TM to see reviews.
And sorry but no…this still doesn’t mean you can lick the spoon!