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Gut Flora: The Bacteria That Call Your Stomach Home

What comes to mind when you think of bacteria? Infection? Illness? While these ailments are often associated with bacteria, not all species of bacteria cause harm. Some are actually quite beneficial, and understanding how these microorganisms operate will make you feel much better about knowing that they’re alive inside you right now. 

Bacteria are tiny organisms — living things — that exist within the bodies of humans and animals and in just about every environment on the planet. To give you an idea of just how small bacteria are, compare these single-celled microbes to the average adult human male, who is made up of more than an estimated 37 trillion cells. Despite their microscopic size, bacteria have the potential to do a great deal of harm or good within our bodies.  

Separating the Good From the Bad 

Our digestive system (or gastrointestinal system) is home to five different types of bacteria, each of which contains multiple bacterial species. Bacteria are an important part of our flora, or the organisms that live in our bodies. Although bacterial species are responsible for some forms of pneumonia, food poisoning, strep throat, tuberculosis and a slew of other conditions we all want to avoid, many types of bacteria are ultimately beneficial.   

Many dairy products, including yogurt, kefir and most cheeses, are made with fermented milk, which means bacteria were encouraged to grow in the milk. These fermented products help deliver “good” bacteria to your digestive system and help break down foods so that the nutrients can be absorbed and waste products can be removed. Gut bacteria have been shown to play a positive role in the growth of infants and can help prevent conditions such as: 

  • Diabetes 
  • Obesity 
  • Immune and autoimmune disorders 
  • Digestive disorders 

Considering the potential benefits of gut bacteria, it’s no wonder so many people are intentionally introducing more bacteria into their bodies through probiotic supplements. Yes, there are “bad” bacteria in your gut as well, but having sufficient amounts of the good kind creates a balance that will prevent harmful bacteria from threatening your health.  

Online Explorations of the Inner Workings of the Human Body 

Expand your understanding of how the gastrointestinal system and the organisms within react to the introduction of other organisms or drugs, as well as how the nervous system and all the various systems of the human body react to such factors. The University of Florida’s renowned College of Medicine delivers one physiology-focused master’s degree program and two graduate certificate programs entirely online. Each of these graduate options enables you to build new career expertise and credentials at your own pace. UF’s online classroom is open 24/7 and accessible from virtually anywhere, offering you the flexibility to complete your studies around your professional and personal commitments. Let’s take a closer look at these programs now: 

Master of Science in Medical Sciences with a concentration in Medical Physiology and Pharmacology 

Our online master’s degree in medical physiology and pharmacology examines the effects of antibiotics, tobacco, cannabis and various other drugs on the major human body systems and our general health. In addition, our program helps you prepare for the National Board, MCAT and other exams that are crucial to your advancement within a medical career or a related field. Choose this program and you can: 

  • Graduate in as little as a year. 
  • Apply without taking the GRE. 
  • Complete required coursework on your own schedule. 
  • Acquire clinical knowledge that will help you excel in medical school. 
  • Take advantage of a greater number of financial aid options. 
  • Compete for coveted leadership positions. 

In addition, if you‘ve previously completed a Graduate Certificate in Medical Physiology or a Graduate Certificate in Medical Physiology with a specialization in Cardiovascular/Renal Physiology, you’re already halfway to earning your master’s degree in medical physiology and pharmacology! Our master’s degree program permits you to transfer up to 15 credits from either of those certificate programs, which are explained below.  

Graduate Certificates 

If you’ve already completed at least a bachelor’s degree and want to give your current career a boost with up-to-date skills and an additional credential, you may want to consider one of our graduate certificate programs: 

Our Graduate Certificate in Medical Physiology with a specialization in Cardiovascular/Renal Physiology presents an advanced evaluation of cardiovascular and renal functioning and pathophysiology that will prove invaluable to you in a clinical setting. Students can finish this program’s 12 required credits in as little as two semesters 

Our 9-to-14-credit Graduate Certificate in Medical Physiology program explores the essentials of physiology with specific attention paid to the primary human body systems. You’ll enjoy tremendous flexibility that will allow you to complete this program in just one semester! 

Complement your understanding of human body systems and functioning with an online graduate degree or certificate program from the University of Florida.