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Healthy bacteria

The multi-faceted world of microorganisms is not visible to our eyes and yet it exists. The air, every surface, the skin, our intestines – there is no place in this world that is not populated by them. There are “healthy” and “harmful” micro-organisms which originate from the realm of bacteria, viruses, fungi or algae. Furthermore, there is the distinction of a healthy or unhealthy mileu, which means the complex composition of different microorganisms at a certain place. These are usually in a well-rehearsed, sensitive balance and give a certain protection against foreign invaders in the world of the for us invisible but very well existing tiny creatures.

In the basic course in microbiology at the university, we placed open Petri dishes in various places. These are transparent, flat plastic dishes with a culture medium in which bacteria and fungi can grow. We touched them with our hands, with a public telephone receiver, with a door handle or simply left them in the open air for a certain time in order to examine the quantity and variety of the microorganisms present in each place and make them visible to the eye. The Petri dishes were then closed again with the lid and placed in an incubator. After a few days, we could then see which bacterial cultures had grown in them and examine the individual tribes under the microscope.

Frog in a Petri dish

We realised then that microbes are everywhere, in every place, even on the skin, and that they play an important role in the interaction of all living beings.

These many different microorganisms form a balance with each other, which is gradually established, as in the production of good sourdough. The art of sourdough production is to direct the competitive battle in the world of bacteria and fungi by means of temperature and other factors, for example, so that an equilibrium with the desired micro-organisms develops.

It should be clear to us that the invisible world of microorganisms belongs to our world like the air we breathe and the sunshine above our heads. If we disinfect our environment, we kill something that is naturally present and will always return. There is no “sterile environment”. This idea does not correspond to reality.

From a biological point of view, it could be said that the healthiest place for a child to grow up would be a farm, not a modern mast farm, but one based on the old way of life, because there is certainly a varied, “healthy” (normally) and also powerful bacterial life there. In such an environment, the developing immune system of a child can develop best. The “unhealthiest place” in this context would be a hospital, where the continuous disinfection destroys all protective flora and only the resistant germs survive, which are usually the most dangerous ones. By disinfecting, resistant germs are bred, one literally breeds them.

Of course, an operating theatre must be sterile, so that no foreign bacteria can enter an open abdominal cavity, as they would cause inflammation there. Why? Because the immune system reacts to the intruders. The inflammation is the result of the body’s own defence. This can be prevented by sterile work during the operation. In a normal household, however, it would certainly be healthiest – knowing that the protective world of normal bacteria provides protection – to refrain from any form of disinfection.

Erika Stolze, certificate biologist

Translated with (free version)

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