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Bacteria -- We Can't Live Without 'Em

Only about 10% of the trillions of cells in a human body are actually human! The other 90% are bacteria, viruses, and other microbes, mostly located in the digestive system and on the skin. We have more DNA from the bacteria than we have from our own body tissue. And the genes of those microbes are more responsible for human survival than the genes of our own human body!

Not all of the bacteria in our bodies are bad.

Just as we cannot live without air and water, we cannot live without our microbes. A person who lacks the normal microbes in the gut is likely to encounter problems like weight gain and illness.

When I was a student at Duke University Medical College (before I transferred to Logan College of Chiropractic), I was taught that the energy we need to make our muscles move comes from tiny cells in our body called mitochondria. These cells were originally parasites but have become an integral part of all of our body cells. And yes, mitochondria have their own genes that are different from our own. So, the cells that make our muscles function are not even our own body cells!

Imagine the human body as if it were a car. Which part of a car is most important? Obviously, it’s the engine because that’s where it gets its power. Wait, no, it has got to be the wheels because that’s how it moves. Well, don’t forget the frame that holds everything together. But what about the fact that there needs to be a place to sit and a way to accelerate and stop?

The human body is similar. What part is the most important can be difficult to determine. The brain is like the computer in a car that keeps everything working together without breaking down. The muscles and bones are like the tires and steering wheel of the body. And the microbes are like the devices in a car that use gasoline or electricity to produce energy.

We know that children who are kept in an environment that is too clean tend to develop asthma and allergies. If they don’t acquire normal microbes, their bodies are never quite whole, like having a car without the steering wheel.

The bacteria and other microbes are not just passively living within us. They are an important part of what we think of as the human body, just as the valves and pistons are part of a car. Just as our cars cannot run without the essential parts, our bodies cannot run without microbes.

A loss of bacteria can lead to many health problems, including obesity. At the Health Center of Hillsborough, we can help you achieve and maintain an optimal balance of bacteria with natural substances. Learn more about how bacteria can affect your weight in the final part of the bacteria series.

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