The impact of good vs. bad bacteria on digestive health

Carla Oates
Carla Oates The Beauty Chef Founder & CEO

Within our digestive system lies the dynamic world of the gut microbiome; a thriving ecosystem crucial for overall health. Made up of trillions of bacteria, it also dictates a number of key functions within the body—orchestrating digestion, maintaining our metabolism and supporting our immune functions.

Maintaining a balanced gut microbiome is key for optimal gut health and overall wellbeing. While beneficial strains of bacteria facilitate nutrient absorption, fortify the immune system and support a healthy gut lining—harmful strains can lead to disruptions in digestion, inflammation and increased susceptibility to infections (also known as dysbiosis).

Achieving a harmonious balance consequently involves promoting the growth of beneficial bacterial strains while keeping harmful ones in check. This not only safeguards against gastrointestinal issues but also positively influences broader health.

Here, we explore the impact of good and bad bacteria in the belly while offering actionable insights into how you can foster a healthy gut microbiome.

Understanding Gut Bacteria

Let's take a closer look at the microscopic inhabitants populating our digestive tract. Collectively known as the gut microbiome, the trillions of bacteria that live in the gut are pivotal players in our digestive health. Beneficial strains help to break down food, synthesise nutrients and support immune functions, while harmful strains can wreak havoc on digestive processes—leading to dysbiosis and wider systemic issues. So, how can we distinguish between good and bad bacteria?

Good Gut Bacteria

Good gut bacteria (also known as probiotics), are the live, beneficial bacteria that we consume (either through food or supplements) that promote digestive health by fostering a balanced environment, helping to prevent inflammation and fortifying the body's defences against harmful pathogens. Strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium enhance nutrient absorption through the fermentation of indigestible compounds, fortify the gut lining through mucin production and regulate our immune response.

Bad Gut Bacteria

Harmful gut bacteria, on the other hand, such as certain strains of Escherichia coli and Clostridium difficile, can disrupt the delicate balance of the gut microbiome triggering inflammation, compromising the integrity of the gut lining and producing toxins that lead to digestive issues. These detrimental microbes often thrive in conditions of microbial imbalance, underscoring the importance of maintaining a harmonious gut microbiome for optimal digestive health.

The Benefits of Good Gut Bacteria

Our gut bacteria play a vital role in our overall health and wellbeing—and ‘good’ bacteria are key to maintaining homeostasis. Known for their ability to break down complex carbohydrates and fibres that our digestive system struggles to digest on its own—probiotic bacteria also play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the gut lining. By producing and maintaining mucin, a glycoprotein that forms a protective barrier along the intestinal walls, they prevent harmful substances from entering the bloodstream. But probiotics also help more broadly to regulate our immune response by promoting the production of anti-inflammatory compounds and modulating the activity of immune cells. 

What’s important to note, however, is that it’s not just probiotics that are vital for maintaining a healthy microbiome. Prebiotics (non-digestible plant fibres) also play an important part as they are metabolised by our bacteria in the colon, helping to bolster the growth and proliferation of good bacteria—simultaneously reducing the impact of pathogenic strains. But what’s even more incredible are the byproducts that are produced when fibre is fermented in the colon. Known as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), these compounds harbour powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating benefits—and even have a positive impact on our brain and metabolic health, too. 

The Impact of Harmful Gut Bacteria

An excess of harmful bacteria can negatively impact nutrient absorption, weaken our immune responses and contribute to systemic health issues that extend far  beyond the digestive tract.

By outcompeting beneficial bacteria for available nutrients, harmful strains can diminish the body’s capacity to absorb essential compounds. Some bacteria can even produce toxins that directly interfere with the functioning of cells responsible for nutrient absorption in the intestines while others can trigger inflammatory responses, compromising the integrity of the gut lining and increasing the risk of a number of health issues, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes

Balancing Gut Bacteria

So how do we ensure the ‘good guys’ outnumber the ‘bad guys’? To achieve a balanced gut microbiome, experts agree that the most profound impact comes from our diet. Incorporating probiotic-rich foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and The Beauty Chef products is a simple way to promote microbial diversity, as is ensuring that your plate is balanced with an abundance of colourful fruits and vegetables which are naturally rich in prebiotic fibre to help feed the good bacteria in your belly.

Lifestyle practices such as regular exercise can further support gut health by promoting microbial diversity, whilst managing stress is also key, as cortisol directly impacts the composition of microbiota in the human microbiome.

Balance Your Gut Health With The Beauty Chef

At The Beauty Chef, we know the crucial role of gut bacteria in overall health and wellness which is why we’ve developed a range of inner beauty supplements that help to promote a harmonious and diverse gut microbiome. From supercharged herbal probiotics to delicious berry-flavoured elixirs, our products have been formulated to help good bacteria flourish.

If you’re curious about how to improve your digestive health—trust your gut and exploreThe Beauty Chef’s targeted range of digestion supplements here. 

GLOW® Inner Beauty Essential


A daily inner beauty powder with prebiotics and probiotics to support gut health, glowing skin and wellbeing.

Add to Cart