Bacterial biofilms

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Bacterial biofilms

Unhealthy Bacteria in the gut can create an unhealthy biofilm. One common example of a biofilm dental plaque, a slimy buildup of bacteria that forms on the surfaces of teeth. Pond scum is another example. Combining sugar with protein can create a biofilm, or mucus, in your intestines. A healthy biofilm is good; it helps bind to acids and toxins so they don’t harm the body.

A biofilm created by healthy bacteria also has anti-inflammatory properties, helps your body absorb nutrients and lubricates the gut. If your body can’t properly absorb nutrients from the foods that you eat, your complete physical and mental health is affected.

When your gut is imbalanced and filled with unhealthy bacteria, parasites or yeast, the biofilm is so thick that it:

  • prevents the proper absorption of nutrients,
  • protects the microbes that cause disease, making it harder for your body to fight them,
  • promotes inflammation, and
  • holds onto toxins.

Why form a biofilm?

For microorganisms, living as a part of a biofilm comes with certain advantages. Communities of microbes are usually more resilient to stress. Potential stressors include the lack of water, high or low pH, or the presence of substances toxic to microorganisms such as antibiotics, antimicrobials or heavy metals.

impenetrable biofilm

Still, it is possible for certain antibiotics to penetrate the EPS and make their way through a biofilm's layers. Here, another protective mechanism can come into play: the presence of bacteria that are physiologically dormant. In order to work well, all antibiotics require some level of cellular activity. So, if bacteria are physiologically dormant to begin with, there is not much for an antibiotic to disrupt.

Another mode of protection against antibiotics is the presence of special bacterial cells known as "persisters." Such bacteria do not divide and are resistant to many antibiotics. According to a 2010 article published in the journal Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, "persisters" function by producing substances that block the targets of the antibiotics.

In general, microorganisms living together as a biofilm benefit from the presence of their various community members. As research has progressed over the years, biofilms — bacterial and fungal — have been implicated in a variety of health conditions.