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In Good Health? Thank Your 100 Trillion Bacteria


In Good Health? Thank Your 100 Trillion Bacteria By GINA KOLATA

Published: June 13, 2012

For years, bacteria have had a bad name. They are the cause of infections, of diseases. They are something to be scrubbed away, things to be avoided.

But now researchers have taken a detailed look at another set of bacteria that may play even bigger roles in health and disease: the 100 trillion good bacteria that live in or on the human body.

No one really knew much about them. They are essential for human life, needed to digest food, to synthesize certain vitamins, to form a barricade against disease-causing bacteria. But what do they look like in healthy people, and how much do they vary from person to person?


Consortium of Scientists Map the Human Body's Bacterial Ecosystem

National Human Microbiome Project Uncovers Treasure-Trove of Data Scientists at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institutes today are announcing their role in an unprecedented collaboration organized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which used groundbreaking methods to vastly improve the understanding of bacteria that reside in and on the human body.“Preliminary research has shown that microbes in the guts of obese individuals more efficiently extract energy from fat than that of non-obese individuals — and could play a role the development of the disease,” said Pollard. “As we expand our data set to include global populations, we can gain new insight into how microbes may be implicated not only in obesity, but in a whole host of disorders — including Type I diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and many neurological conditions.”

You may think of yourself as human, but 90 percent of the cells in your body are actually bacterial. That's 100 trillion microbes living on your skin, in your gut, up your nostril—any body surface you can think of. These bacteria aren't here to make you sick—not usually, at least—and scientists are just beginning to discover how our healthy bodies interact with them. Here are a few places where you'll find complex bacterial communities and their footprints.

Stashed in: #health, Science Too, Health Studies, Biology, Microbiome

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It's hard to imagine 100 trillion of ANYTHING.

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