16 Great Reasons To Love Your Body's Bacteria

Skin microbeStephylococcus, a skin microbe.

Photo: Janice Carr/CDC. Public Domain

If the idea of bacteria on your skin gives you the heebie jeebies, you don’t know enough about them. We’ve collected the important facts here, many from a TedMed talk in April, by researcher Jonathan Eisen.

In the talk, Eisen discussed his work studying the microbial communities that live in and on us. We’ve grabbed some of the most interesting facts and ideas from his talk.

They're helpful.

Not all microbes are bad. Most are innocuous and some are even helpful.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

They are all around and inside us.

These microbes are called our 'microbial cloud.'

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

They outnumber us.

This cloud contains 10 times as many bacterial cells in and on our bodies than there are human cells.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

They are a BIG part of our lives.

Those microbes weigh more than our brains.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

They are very specific.

There are thousands upon thousands of different types of microbes on us, and these types are different in different areas of our skin.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

They keep us healthy.

The types of microbes on our bodies differ between people, and this may be responsible for some aspects of health and wellness.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

... in many ways.

These microbes interact with our bodies in many ways: If our cadre of microbes gets off base, it could trigger an immune response that could cause disease.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

They are with us from the beginning.

When a baby is born it picks up microbes from its mother. These microbes can be different depending on how the baby is delivered.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

Thanks, mum!

Some of these differences put the baby at risk if they are delivered via cesarean section, because they might pick up the wrong types of bacteria.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

They have lots of health implications.

Some ways in which bacteria influence us: They help in development of our immune system and how we fight off pathogens, they influence our metabolism, our odor and even our behaviour, Eisen said.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

So, don't kill them off!

'Germophobia' in children is linked to obesity, autoimmune diseases and other problems.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

They come in through our food.

The 'probiotics' movement is based on the idea that if we take in some healthy bacterial species, we could improve our health.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

We aren't the only ones who need them.

This is similar to an old idea of why some animals eat poop -- to pick up normal body bacteria to fight disease.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

It's a built-in community.

Researchers are studying ways to deliver this 'community of microbes' from a healthy donor other people's bodies.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

They're pooptastic!

… one way is through a poop transplant. These kinds of transplants can treat the deadly, and hard to fight, C. difficile infection sometimes caught after taking antibiotics.

See Jonathan Eisen's Ted talk

They help us live long and prosper.

Our bodies' microbes should be thought of as an organ that needs to be healthy, Eisen says. Read more about how our gut microbes are correlated to healthy living and longevity.

Some bacteria are good, but check out this slideshow for info on some nasty parasites..

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