Most people associate bacteria with illness and infection–but several types are useful to humans and animals. In the early 1900s, a Russian scientist discovered these beneficial bacteria–called probiotics–in humans and other mammals. Awareness of beneficial bacteria helps you understand how your body fights infections and diseases with your own bacteria.
Acetic Acid Bacteria
Vital to the food industry for production of vinegar products, acetic acid bacteria is a living form of bacteria. This rod-shaped bacteria is often the result of yeast fermentation of plant sugars. Unpasteurized beer and cider provide rich sources of this natural, beneficial bacteria that is known to synthesize cellulose naturally--a process ordinarily found only in plants.
Found in the human intestines and vagina, lactobacillus acidophilus–which means acid-loving milk bacterium–is a beneficial bacteria. It produces vitamin K, bacteriocin, acidolin, lactase and lactocidin, all of which are neccessary in processing dairy. Human consumption of lactobacillus proves to be beneficial in a variety of instances. For example, eating yogurt improves vaginal health and suppositories containing the useful bacteria are used to treat bacterial vaginosis.
Found in the large intestines of herbivorous mammals such as cattle, ruminococcus is a gram-positive bacteria beneficial in digestion. It helps in the digestion of cellulose, which is found in plant materials. This digestive action is provided by a compound called cullulase, which adheres to cellulose and turns it into energy for the animal. Ruminococcus is useful to keep cattle healthy; without it they couldn't properly digest grasses and grains.