Scientists like to describe us as being more bacteria than human. An odd description perhaps, but it helps you visualise how much of our bodies these organisms take up. The bacteria in our body are responsible for our health. Luckily there are more useful than harmful bacteria in our body.
90% bacteria and 10% human
We are, so to speak, more bacteria than human. For every human cell there are 10 bacterial cells that can be found in and on our bodies. This means that the body consists of about 100 trillion bacteria, accounting for 1 to 2 kilograms of our total body weight. It’s about the same as the average weight of your brain. No wonder we are so dependent of these creatures for our health.
Good influence on our body
The human being is like a walking ecosystem. There are thousands of different types of bacteria in our bodies. Many of them we don’t yet know as we are still discovering and examining new ones every day.
Most bacteria are innocent. Many of them are even useful for our health. They are an indispensable extension to our digestive system and our immune system.
Bacteria in the intestines process indigestible vegetable food scraps like fibres. Thanks to certain bacteria vitamins and nutrients are absorbed in the bowels.
Moreover, bacteria produce vitamins and anti-inflammatory substances that our human cells cannot provide. They deliver more of the genes we need to survive, than we (our human cells) do ourselves.
Bacteria even produce hormones. A medical study shows that certain intestinal bacteria are capable of producing hormones that stop the development of diabetes. Another intestinal bacterium produces steroid hormones such as testosterone, cortisone, aldosterone and oestrogen.
Bacteria also play an important role in our immune system, as they train it. They protect us from harmful bacteria by occupying places in the body so that pathogenic bacteria are not given the opportunity to attach and grow there. Our courageous bacteria even come to our rescue and attack invading pathogens.
Communication with the brain
The idea that bacteria have a major impact on our health perhaps wasn’t unfamiliar to you. But what would you say if their influence even extends to our brain? A growing group of scientists are investigating how our bacterial ecosystem regulates how we think and what we feel. Studies have shown that bacteria play a crucial role in autism, anxiety disorders, depression and other mental illnesses.
Love your bacteria
It is important that we love and look after the beneficial bacteria in our body. Did you know there are a number of things you can pay attention to in order to maintain a good balance of bacteria in your body?