(916) 482-5200

You May Be Born 100% Human, But You Will Die 90% Microbial

Published: July 6, 2011

Although we are trained to think of “germs” as bad things, it turns out that they are rather beneficial. Researchers are just starting to learn just HOW helpful bacteria really are. As it turns out, we could scarcely live without them, as outlined in the New Scientist article, “I Am Legion.”

The average person is composed of about 10 trillion cells, but the only time you are entirely you is when you are in the womb. The average person soon becomes home to about 100 trillion cell bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoans. The true extent to which you or I are walking microbial cultures has only been recently discovered by some sophisticated gene tests. It turns out most things living in or on us do not respond well to our traditional methods of detection (culturing) and we have been more or less oblivious to their presence. Tests that look for genes have revealed their presence and man, are they everywhere. Keeping in mind that an ounce is about 27 grams, we are strolling around with 10 grams of microbes in our nose, 20 grams in our mouths and vaginas, 200 grams on our skin, and 1000 grams in our gut. Add it up to find that we normally have over 1.2 kg of bacteria in and on us. The next time you step on a scale, recognize that that almost 3 pounds of weight consists of OTHER living things that you are carrying around.

Recent studies have shown that the skin harbors different ecosystems depending on the moisture and oil levels of the location. Our guts have recently been discovered to harbor over 1000 types of bacteria that seem to cluster together into 3 sorts of intestinal ecosystems.

These findings open up intriguing avenues for future treatments as we have talked about before, but this new data promises to help people with obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowl disease, auto-immune disorders, cancer and a host of conditions we have yet to fully grasp.

New data on gut microbes suggests that despite there being over 1000 species, they can be organized into 3 distinct “communities,” depending on the person. This means that in the future we might not only refer to “blood type,” but “bacteria type” as well. What all of this means is something to kick around in part 2.