What are the Different Types of Digestive Bacteria?

N. Madison

There are many types of bacteria found in a person’s digestive tract. Some are digestive bacteria that aid in the process of digestion and help to ensure good health. Other types of bacteria may take up residence in the digestive tract and cause health problems. Among the types of bacteria that are found in the digestive tract are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Escherichia.

Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is available in capsule form, is good for the digestive tract.
Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is available in capsule form, is good for the digestive tract.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a type of bacteria that lives in a person’s small intestine. It is considered to be a beneficial type of bacteria for a few reasons. This bacteria synthesizes vitamin K and has the ability to metabolize lactose, which is a type of sugar found in dairy products. It also produces substances that prevent harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying in the digestive tract. If a person doesn’t have enough of this bacteria in his digestive tract, digestion may be impaired.

A diagram of the digestive system.
A diagram of the digestive system.

Often, people focus on Lactobacillus acidophilus' ability to impair the growth of harmful bacteria. This digestive bacteria also aids the body in producing the B group of vitamins, however. The bacteria is also said to help keep cholesterol at normal levels.

Bifidobacterium is another type of friendly bacteria that is found in a person’s digestive tract. It lives in a person’s large intestine and plays an important role in protecting the body against some types of yeast as well as bacteria that are harmful rather than helpful. This bacterium can interfere with bacteria that inflame the intestines and cause the affected person to experience diarrhea. It works by hampering the bacteria's ability to grow. It may also help the body to produce vitamin B.

Streptococcus thermophilus is a digestive bacteria that aids the body in making lactose enzymes. These enzymes are important for the digestion of milk products. This bacterium also helps keep a person’s gastrointestinal lining protected when milk and milk products go through the digestive process. In fact, this bacterium is even said to help people avoid the unpleasant symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Many people have heard of Escherichia coli, which is commonly abbreviated as E. coli. This type of bacteria is often the culprit when someone develops a digestive illness, such as those that cause vomiting and diarrhea. Escherichia coli is a whole group of bacteria, however, and some of them are friendly. Some strains of this digestive bacteria help the body digest plant foods. Some also help the body to produce vitamin K.

There are many types of bacteria found throughout a person's digestive tract.
There are many types of bacteria found throughout a person's digestive tract.

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Discussion Comments


Both Sporkasia and Animandel make good points about the benefits of some bacteria, and the article clearly defines and explains why some of these are considered friendly bacteria, but let's not forget about the not-so-friendly bacteria.

Need I remind you that anthrax, cholera, typhoid fever, diphtheria, syphilis, scarlet fever, Lyme disease and a lot of other nasty diseases are all caused by bacteria?

I'm not in favor of ridding the world of bacteria, but I don't want to invite every bacteria known to man into my home either.


Sporkasia, you brought up an interesting point when you questioned whether we are too quick to destroy every germ in our paths. Seems like every product you buy now boasts its efficiency in killing 99.9 percent of all germs or its antibacterial attributes.

I have traveled a bit to different countries and have noticed that in general, residents of some countries are less avid in their efforts to eliminate all those little microorganisms. Anyway, I say, leave my good digestive bacteria alone. They aren't hurting anyone.


This article goes against everything I learned about bacteria from those filmstrips in grade-school health classes. Seriously, I didn't know there were so many bacteria that are helpful to the human body.

For some reason, I always have negative thoughts when I hear the word bacteria--must be those films from health class again. This article makes me wonder whether we are in too big of a hurry to eliminate bacteria and sterilize our world.

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