The Facts

The Human Microbiome

Scientists call the microbial populations in and on our body, the Microbiome.  There are nearly 100 trillion bacteria in our bodies and fungal cells (nearly three times our estimated 30 trillion human cells) and they function as our internal pharmacy to maintain our health.   70-90% of these non-human cells reside in various areas of our bodies including our nostrils, our mouth, ears, stomach, gut, and for women in our vaginal canals. These helpful microbes help remove toxins in our body. And they produce vitamins, enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters — acting as sentinels at the gate when things are in balance.

In 2007 the National Institute of Health (NIH) created a 5-year program called the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) with a goal to study genetic material from 250 healthy young adults. As a result of this study they confirmed that there are common bacteria in each of us but everyone has a unique set of microbes–like a blueprint to your body.

Your microbes are important to your activities of daily living. When you eat, microbes are part of the journey, helping to break down and digest your food, maintain metabolism, blood pressure, and provide immunity.

Our microbes are vital to our lives, but they are in jeopardy due to various modern day factors including overuse and misuse of antibiotics and Caesarean sections. Read more about the impact of antibiotics on our bodies.

By the time a child can crawl, he has been blanketed by an enormous, unseen cloud of microorganisms--a hundred trillion or more. They are bacteria, mostly, but also viruses and fungi (including a variety of yeasts), and they come at us from all directions: other people, food, furniture, clothing, cars, buildings, trees, pets, even the air we breathe....Together, they are referred to as our microbiome--and they play such a crucial role in our lives that scientists like [Martin J.] Blaser have begun to reconsider what it means to be human...

Michael Specter