10 Amazing Facts About Human Microbiome
The human body is a wonder of nature, considering the fact that it is home to trillions of invisible microbes, which are collectively known as the microbiome. Even though the common impression is that they could be harmful to health, the truth is surprising as they can actually keep you healthy. You will be surprised to know that only a few of the species are actually disease-causing while the rest do not cause any harm at all. Furthermore, there are some microbes that keep you healthy, like the ones that reside in the human gut and play a key role in digestion of food. Such “healthy” microbes are essential for maintaining your body’s normal flora and fauna and you must have them for being in good health. There are many more amazing facts about the human microbiome that you should know about.
1. You have more microbes than human cells
You will be surprised to know that the bacterial cells greatly outnumber the human cells in the human body and the ratio is as prolific as 10:1. The presence of the tiny microbes is undetectable because they are of microscopic size. Also, a majority of them are harmless, which is the reason that may never even notice them or even know that they exist on or inside your body. It is important to note that these cells have evolved over time, with the evolution of the human race.
2. Every human has microbial fingerprints
Another incredible fact about the human microbiome is that everyone has a unique one. Just like fingerprints and DNA are unique for a person and can be used to identify them, you have distinctive microbial fingerprints as well. The human skin literally crawls with microbes and you leave their traces on whatever you touch. It is possible to use these as a mark of identification, matching your microbial prints with a something that you have been in contact with.
3. Humans are bacteria-free at the time of birth
Since there are millions of tiny bacteria within you, it is easy to believe that you were born with them. But the truth is just the opposite as babies are actually born without them and acquire them within the first few years of life. The first encounter with microbes is at the time they pass through the birth canal (in babies born vaginally, while those born by C-section come across different ones). This marked difference is responsible for greater risk of obesity and certain type of allergies in those born by C-section.
4. Breastfeeding passes healthy microbes to the baby
There are already several good reasons to promote breastfeeding and passing healthy microbes to your baby is another one. Breast milk is enriched with several good ones that reach the baby and make them healthier in more than one ways. It is also high in milk sugars that serve as a food for Bifidobacterium, the beneficial bacteria in the body. Breast milk promotes the growth of these bacteria and they are able to form a protective lining for the cells, thus preventing invasion by unhealthy bacteria.
5. Microbes also affect your emotional behavior
Surprisingly, microbes not only affect your physical health but your emotional attributes too. It would not be wrong to say that your gut and brain are engaged in constant communication. The gut has millions of neurons that are linked to the brain. Additionally, it generates nearly 80% of serotonin, the mood regulating hormone in the human body. It comes as no surprise that you may feel depressed when you suffer from gut disorders. Similarly, certain brain disorders such as autism are accompanied by digestive health issues.
6. Microbiome is linked with obesity
Factors like genetics, poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle are seen as the key culprits leading to obesity. Studies have indicated a relationship between the microbiome and obesity, with different microbes found in obese and lean people (though the research is based on animal studies conducted in obese and lean mice). Additionally, the use of antibiotics has also been associated with weight gain in humans.
7. Antibiotics can cause damage to the gut
Even though antibiotics are revered as lifesavers, they can be bad for health if overused. The reason behind this lurking danger is that antibiotic overuse can cause drug resistance. This can lead to a specific organism becoming resistant to an antibiotic and it can no longer be treated with the drug, moreover, antibiotics do not make any discrimination between the disease-causing and healthy microbes in the gut; while it does kill the harmful ones, the good ones are destroyed as well.
8. Skin microbiomes have a lot to say
Another amazing fact about the human microbiome relates to the secrets that lie within the skin. The microbes that reside in your skin tell a lot about you. For instance, lactic acid bacteria are more frequently found in women’s hand while men’s hands are infested with more Corynebacterium cells. Similarly, the skin microbiome of a dog owner will be different from that of people who do not own a dog.
9. A little dirtiness is good for you
You may have been told to practice good hygiene all your life but you will be surprised to know that a little dirtiness can actually be good for you. In fact, exposure to certain microbes has been proved to be beneficial for immunity as it lowers the risk of asthma and allergies. Who knows, bacteria might be used to prevent human allergies in the future.
10. You have them in your mouth too
Microbes do not just live on your skin and in the gut. The human mouth is home to more than thousand kinds of bacteria. Like the ones that live elsewhere in the body, most of the oral bacteria are harmless. However, some of them can cause problems such as bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease and infections.
Now that you know the significance of good microbes for health, you will also understand that you require having them in the right number. And if you do not have enough, you should rely on quality supplements to make up for the deficiency.