Why half of your body is not human (and how that is fundamental to your health)

Why half of your body is not human (and how that is fundamental to your health)


The next number will surprise you: 39 billion. That is the amount of bacteria that live inside our body.

Maybe you have not thought about it, but that microcosm has an effect on our weight. For some it may be positive, but for others it may not be.

“Humans have a cell of bacteria for each of ours, but since they are significantly smaller, they weigh less.In total, the 39 billion calculated in the latest estimates, are equivalent to one or two kilos at most” , tells BBC Ed Young, author of the book I Have Crowds .

And within this universe of billions, the variety of these microorganisms is immense.

” They are very different ecosystems, those that are in the nose, for example, are humid, like the tropical rainforest, those that are on the forearm are dry, like a desert,” Young adds.

One or two kilos are not much more, but the type of bacteria that inhabit our body – and that vary in each one of us, regardless of their diversity – can have a much more significant effect on our weight.

And that’s what’s important in regards to our health.

Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption A microscope allowed the Dutchman Antonie van Leeuwenhoek to discover that multiple microorganisms lived in his mouth.

Walking petri dishes: the discovery

Another fact that could also surprise you is the way in which it was discovered that a microcosm of bacteria lives in our body.

It all started in the seventeenth century with a Dutch cloth merchant named Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and his strange hobby : the making of microscopes (of the best of the time).

In addition to making them, he used them to perform experiments.

Van Leeuwenhoek took the plaque from his mouth , sprayed it with rainwater and observed what was happening.

“To my surprise, it contains a large number of animals that move extravagantly, there are so many that the number exceeds the inhabitants of a kingdom, ” concluded the trader after conducting the experiment with several volunteers.

Since then, bacteria have been found in almost the entire body.

Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Natural foods, instead of prebiotics, are better to have a healthy bacterial flora.


It has also been discovered that they have multiple effects on our body.

“They protect us from infections and diseases, among other reasons because by occupying so much space, they do not leave much for other organisms harmful to our body,” explains Young.

And he continues: “They also help to renew parts of certain organs and in the reconstitution of our bodies and perhaps affect behavior and thoughts.”

Several animal studies have been conducted that demonstrate how bacteria affect mood, personality, and resilience to stress and anxiety.

But it is not clear if something similar happens in humans.

Variety of solutions

Regarding weight, analyzes have determined that the type of bacteria that lives in our intestine can affect our weight.

“We carried out a study in twins and discovered that in the skinniest, there are always certain types of bacteria that help control weight when they consume fattening foods, such as a hamburger,” explains the project coordinator, Professor Tim Spector, Saint Thomas Hospital, in London.

Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES imageImage caption Certain bacteria help control weight better when eating unhealthy food.

Those bacteria are not found in the twin’s intestine that weighs more.

What alternatives are there, then, if we want to improve the quality of our inner microcosm ?

“The first thing is to eat the greatest possible variety of natural foods instead of prebiotic supplements, for example, fermented milk and tea,” recommends Spector.

But it is not the only thing. There are a few more radical options in case the person really requires it … or is very desperate.

“With a bariatric surgery , a bowel transplant can be performed.In 24 hours, the intestinal flora changes completely.It is also possible to perform another type of transplant, but stool, with a healthy and thin donor,” says Spector.

The specialist says there are several methods to achieve it: a tube that is inserted into the nose, another through the rectum and a third that consists of taking stool pills.

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Rava Desk

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