A lot of the information we hear about bacteria is about the types that cause disease, but there are many types of bacteria. Some are very useful to us, and some are essential to our health.
Lactic acid bacteria are used in the dairy industry to produce yogurt and cheeses, and in the meat industry for salami and pepperoni. Bacteria ferment wine, sour dough bread and saurkraut.
Biotechnology uses bacteria to produce numerous products including
fuels, foods, medicines, hormones, enzymes, proteins, and nucleic acids....human hormones such as insulin, enzymes such as streptokinase, and human proteins such as interferon and tumor necrosis factor.
Bacteria that live in our digestive tract break down various nutrients for us. Bacteria are on and within our bodies; some are beneficial, others not. Some that are helpful in one area are harmful in another. E. coli are essential helpers in the lower gut, but dangerous in the upper parts of the tract.
Bacteria also act as decomposers, an important part of the ecosystem. Without them, dead organisms would not decay as quickly and nutrients would not be recycled as efficiently.