The Human Microbiome.
I’m sure you’ve heard of this by now? It’s the in thing, and everything is being linked to it! So, what is it?
I’ll start with us, the human body. We are made up of lots of cells, ranging from small blood cells to large Neurons and many others. There are around 30 trillion human cells. I know, it’s one of those numbers you can’t imagine!
Now thousands of microscopic organisms share our bodies. These microbial cells, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, live on and in us. A vital point of note; we need them as much as they need us!
The Microbiome is made up of an estimated 39 trillion microbial cells.
They’re a lot more microbial cells than human cells. However, these cells are microbial… it means very small, in fact so small that altogether they make up less than 1-3% of our body mass. They are so small and so prolific in their diversity that they thrive in partnership with every human cell in some way or other.
The Gut Microbiome is one part of the whole microbiome world, but it is maybe the most extensive area of research and interest at the moment.
The Gut Microbiome is made up of many microbial cells, including millions of bacteria. They survive and flourish in what we would think of as a hostile, dark, highly acidic and low oxygen environment, with lots of various stuff flushing through at varying times, but to them, it’s home.
You may be asking, where do they come from? Well, it seems that around three-quarters of them come from our Mother’s at birth. Amazing, isn’t it!
The remainder we eat and get from the environment we live. Around a million microbes in every gram of food we digest! Our unique environmental variations around the world mean that those microbial worlds are never static. Everything involves and relies on that diversity. Just imagine the pet your stroking and it’s Microbiome, but no need to worry; this is a good thing! The greater the variety, the greater our chance of surviving it well!
We are learning more and more about this fantastic, thriving microbial world that we coexist with, but what does it do? Each and every microbial life has it’s own prefered environment, and it does everything it can to maintain that environment as best it can, for their benefit. The great thing about this is, in doing so it supports our health and well being through the process.
Each human cell has around 20-25 thousand genes that determine that cells nature. The human Microbiome is believed to potentially have more than 500 times more.
The Microbiome controls our human cells in so many ways that we are only just beginning to realise. It regulates fat storage, the absorbing of nutrients, break down toxins and creating blood vessels. They replenish the linings of the gut and skin, replacing damaged and dying cells with new ones, which is vital for preventing illness. They form and improve our developing immune system from birth. They even affect how we smell.
But more and more, we are learning that not only does the Microbiome affect our human cells physically, but in doing so affect our behaviour. A lot is being put into researching the Gut Microbiome and how they react and affect the brain’s hormones and the molecules they produce. It is believed that neurological disorders, such as Dementia, directly connect to the Gut Microbiome, and pharmaceutical companies are putting millions, if not billions, into this research. So, if they think there is something in it, then there most likely is!
The interaction and reliance of these two worlds, human and Microbiome, is incredibly complex, interrelated and dependent! I doubt we will ever know the full extent. We can only hope that we will learn what to do to maintain the essential harmony for a good life for both!
Information Source: Science Focus BBC Publication
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