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3 Reasons to Love Your Bacteria!

Since it’s the season of love, I thought we should give a little love to all the hard-working and under-appreciated beings we share life with.

Our beautiful bacteria.

Now I’m not suggesting we write love letters to our E. coli or send flowers to our lactobacillus, although some of your gut bacteria might appreciate if you snatched a few mouthfuls of sweet chocolate. But feeling gratitude for these tiny yet influential beings is definitely justified.

Why? Read on.

1. For one thing, there are so many more of them on and inside of us than many people know. It’s been estimated in the past few years that there are trillions of microorganisms in the human body, about ten times more than the number of human cells. They’re much tinier than most human cells, so they only weigh a couple of pounds. But they still outnumber us 10 to 1 (not to mention that there are probably more than 10,000 different species of them in your body right now!)

2. And they’re powerful too. Research has found that changing the bacterial balance in the gut can trigger mice to be braver, or more anxious, or stronger against disease, or more susceptible to it. Human studies have yet to be done, but it looks like your microbiome could affect your mood, health, and well-being in ways we’re only just beginning to understand.

3. Your bacteria need you, but you need them too. Even though you can’t see them, they’re helping you digest your food, absorb nutrients, grow, fight disease, reduce inflammation, and more. And if they’re not taken care of, they might even play a role in chronic disease.

So let’s give a big loving hug to all the little helpers we didn’t even know we had.

References

http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2014/08/116526/do-gut-bacteria-rule-our-minds

http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jun2012/nhgri-13.htm

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/09/gut-feeling.aspx

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ultimate-social-network-bacteria-protects-health/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BZME8H7-KU (PBS Digital Studios)