A Moment of Science

Why We Need Bacteria

Come to find out, bacteria is not all that bad. In fact, it's quite necessary for human life to thrive.

Inside man's open mouth

Photo: teapics (flickr)

Bacteria can be found anywhere including inside and outside your body, but remember, not all bacteria are harmful

The word “bacteria” likely conjures up nasty images in your mind of E. coli, several strains of which are a common cause of food poisoning. Or perhaps you’re reminded of the Black Death, a series of bacteria-inspired plagues that swept through 14th century Europe.

Where To Find Bacteria

But bacteria are not so isolated from us physically. You won’t only find it in contaminated foods, like bad E. coli, or from those bacteria behind the Black Death.

In fact, they can be found almost everywhere on and in the human body–on our skin, in our mouths, guts, kidneys–just to name a few, and they are present in almost unbelievable numbers.

We Are “More Bacteria Than Human”

On average, a human body has about ten times more bacteria cells living in and on it, than it has human cells. So in a very real sense, you’re more bacteria than human. Additionally not all bacteria are such bad guys, in fact quite the opposite is true.

Your skin, for example, hosts a zoo of friendly bacteria that fight off real micro bad guys, giving you a sort of “invisible armor” against harmful intruders. You have trillions more bacteria in your intestines helping you digest your food, and keeping your immune system running strong.

Bacteria To The Rescue

Further studies have found that some bacteria in the human gut may help adults ward off kidney stones and prevent children from developing asthma.

So the next time you hear the word “bacteria”, don’t let the few rotten apples spoil your opinion of the whole bunch, for many more of them are your friends than are your enemies.

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