If you research the question: How many cells does
the human body contain, you’ll find a good number of answers. They
are, of course, simply estimates. I’ve heard 5 billion, 100 billion, 200
A reader sent me a great article published in
National Geographic. It was written by Carl Zimmer, a distinguished
science writer. In the article, he tells of group of scientists who,
wanting to come up with a definitive number, decided to scour all of
scientific literate that even leaned toward making some kind of
count: counts of organ cells, bone cells, and other tissues. They
found quite a bit of research on the subject, including a report in
which someone had estimated there were 2 billion cells alone in our
The number they finally arrived at, still just an
estimate, is 37.2 trillion cells. [How
Many Cells Are In Your Body?]
Now that’s big. And considering that each cell
has a huge number of processes going on inside it at any given time,
there are more things going on in your body right now than there are
stars in the universe.
I’ve pointed this out previously, so that
couldn’t possibly be the reason for this paper. The reason for this
THERE ARE AT LEAST TEN TIMES THAT NUMBER OF
BACTERIA LIVING INSIDE OUR BODIES.
Bacteria have had a bad rap over the years. Once
they’d been discovered, suddenly they were responsible for every
disease and scourge to befall the human animal, when, all along,
they’d been living peacefully, for the most part, with us for
millions of years.
A team of researchers at NYU discovered 182
different species of bacteria living in the skin alone, 8 of which
were unknown. [Human
Skin Harbors Completely Unknown Bacteria] The lead researcher,
Dr Martin J Blaser now estimates that there could be 500 different
species living in our skin.
Research into the variety and extent of bacteria
living in our bodies has challenged medicine to look at disease in a
different light. Previously, a specific microbe was responsible for
a specific disease, whereas as a result of these studies,
researchers are currently examining the “shifts” in microbial
population, and comparing them between healthy and diseased
Suddenly “disease” takes on complexities never
before considered. Even more stupendous is that the concept of
disease has undergone the greatest change in just over one hundred
Have Ten Times More Bacteria Than Human Cells: How Do Microbial
Communities Affect Human Health?]
However, don’t expect to see any headlines soon.
Not only is the research still in its infancy, the rulers of the
kingdom of medicine (pharmaceuticals) don’t have anything to sell us
One conclusion we can come to is that, for the
most part, we’re living in a huge, balanced, symbiotic relationship
with bacteria, and it is this balanced relationship that keeps us
healthy. When one group’s numbers begin to expand while others begin
to shrink, then scales start to tip toward the side of illness.
This is often the case with our gut bacteria.
Women often report that after taking antibiotics, they acquire yeast
infections. Your author has personally come down with an eye
infection following a round of antibiotics.
And get this: antibiotics given to livestock
cause them to gain weight.
Perhaps this is just one more reason to
re-examine our use of antibiotics, for if we are re-examining our
take on the cause of illness, it makes sense to re-examine our
Of all the processes in the body, digestion is
the largest. It uses up the most energy and the most resources, and
when it comes to energy and resources, we have a limited amount.
Energy going into digestion doesn’t go into your immune system.
This is one reason people fast when ill. We cut
the energy to digestion so it can be used by the other systems to
fight off an illness.
If you’ve ever owned a dog, you might know that
the first symptom of the dog being ill is a loss of appetite.
Animals know instinctively to stop eating when ill.
The role of bacteria in the digestive system is
often overlooked. We know that probiotics take a beating from
antibiotics. We know that livestock gain weight on antibiotics. And
now there is research to show why.
At the Washington University School of Medicine,
they discovered something absolutely flabbergasting.
Knowing from previous studies that the digestive
systems of obese people harbor less diverse microbes, a tiny study
was designed to learn even more about gut bacteria and weight
Two groups of young mice were used in an
experiment. Both groups had been raised germ-free.
A researcher took gut bacteria from obese (human) individuals and
transplanted the microbes into the intestines of one group, and then
took gut bacteria from lean twins (humans, again) and transplanted
that into the intestines of the other group.
The mice with the transplanted bacteria from the
guts of the obese person began gaining weight (along with symptoms
of other unhealthy metabolic changes) even though they did not
eat more food than the other set of mice with the microbes from
the lean twins.
Next, all the mice were then put together into
the same cages. Mice are filthy creatures that poop anywhere and
then wallow around in it. The researchers knew they’d be exchanging
germs. Eventually bacteria from the lean mice invaded the intestines
of the fat mice and vice versa.
Now get this: The fatter mice’s metabolism
improved, while the thin mice weren’t affected. And the fatter mice
also did even better if they were given a high fiber diet with a bit
less fat. [Study:
The right bacteria might help fight obesity]
The obvious conclusion is we must keep our gut
bacteria diverse and healthy.
It's been theorized for some time that probiotics
have a beneficial effect on weight loss. One
concluded that: "The probiotic LG2055 [Lactobacillus gasseri] showed
lowering effects on abdominal adiposity, body weight and other
measures, suggesting its beneficial influence on metabolic
Another study, this one out of
showed that Lactobacillus rhamnosus administered over 24 weeks in
both obese men and women showed very significant results, but only
in the women (over the women in the control group). Men didn't fare
better, but in women, the results were quite remarkable in helping
hem to "achieve sustainable weight loss."
A French study published in the
British Journal of Nutrition showed that probiotics
[Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum], in both rats
and humans, decreased stress-induced gastrointestinal discomfort,
and overall levels of stress and anxiety. What does this have to do
with weight loss? It lowered the stress hormone cortisol, which is
responsible for stubborn belly fat.
Incidentally, the only
probiotic reviewed by
Consumer Lab to have all of the above mentioned probiotics
(except Lactobacillus helveticus) is made by Swanson's:
Ultimate Probiotic Formula. And the price is, as always, very
Replenishing and Feeding Our Gut’s Bacteria
You can always take a probiotic supplement.
Simply the Best used to carry iFlora products (but the company was
bought out, lots of changes, and suddenly nobody was ordering), so
now we have an affiliate program with
BioTrust. Their flora product,
Pro-X10™ is one of the best we’ve seen (along with their digestive
enzymes), though they have not been tested by Consumer Lab. Just remember that if you buy from them, they will fill up your
inbox and try to sell you every diet program ever created.
Another method is good old yogurt.
Another is from salt free fermented foods such as
Kimchee was actually used in the Orient to fight off
Your gut microbes feed off of everything
you eat, but to specifically feed them, I recommend resistant
starch. A nice green banana, or baked slices of sweet potato that
have been cooled. Click here to read the article: