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Microbe Hotels

July 27, 2009

I’ve decided to take my last post and up the nerdiness.

Do you know how many human cells are in the average person? Some estimate 10 trillion while others think it’s upwards to 50 trillion. That’s right at least 10 million million cells. As a microbiology student I had the hardest time taking what I was learning on a micro level and converting it to the macro. Learning about how our cells interact is fascinating. Thinking about how we’re all just trillions of cells interacting with each other is mind-blowing.

Let’s take it a step further… Do you know how many bacterial cells are in the average person? 10 times the number of human cells. There are vastly more bacterial cells in your body than your own DNA made cells. We are microbe hotels. In fact we couldn’t live without them.

For one thing, bacteria produce chemicals that help us harness energy and nutrients from our food. Further, probiotics—dietary supplements containing beneficial microbes—have been shown to boost immunity. Intestinal bacteria also appear to keep our immune systems healthy.

The bacterial body has made another contribution to our humanity—genes. Soon after the Human Genome Project published its preliminary, a group of scientists announced that a handful of human genes—around 40—appear to be bacterial in origin.

So the next time you break out the anti-bacterial soap think about this: you are killing the bacteria on your skin that is there to protect you. Colds and flus are viruses, not bacteria. We don’t need to make any more resistant bacteria. It only takes one exposure to cause resistance mutation (I’ve done it in the lab. It’s actually kinda cool.). Warm water and regular soap will do the trick.

Most people think “bacteria, gross!” but don’t realize how much they need them 🙂

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Chère permalink
    July 28, 2009 1:04 am


  2. Aманда permalink
    July 28, 2009 8:20 am

    I already knew that there was good bacteria. And now I know even more. I love nerdiness. So many things to learn, so little time. 🙂

    • taraSG permalink
      July 28, 2009 11:37 am

      I’m glad I could share something you didn’t know 🙂

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