We spend a lot of time and money on antibacterial products. But despite our desperate scrubbing, we will never be free of microbes.
In fact, our bodies’ microbial cells outnumber our human cells 10 to one! Which makes you wonder: If you have more microbial cells than human cells, are you human?
Of course! Humans play host to microscopic microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiome, that reside in the small and large intestine.
These microbial symbionts perform vital functions, especially during digestion.
Many of these genes encode enzymes that digest food, such as CAZymes, which break carbohydrates into compounds that the body can absorb or excrete.
If the composition of the gut microbiome changes, the body may lose the ability to perform certain functions, which could result in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Even from the deep regions of our intestines, our gut occupants can influence much more than our bowel health.
Studies report colonization of certain species of bacteria is more likely to be associated with depression and anxiety. Many researchers believe adjusting the composition of the gut microbiome may be a viable treatment for these disorders.
We may be human, but we are run by microbes, no matter how many times we wash our hands.
Check our facts!
1. Belkaid, Y. and T.W. Hand, Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation. Cell, 2014. 157(1): p. 121-41.
2. Cecchini, D.A., et al., Functional metagenomics reveals novel pathways of prebiotic breakdown by human gut bacteria. PLoS One, 2013. 8(9): p. e72766.
3. Forsythe, P., et al., Mood and gut feelings. […]