MAY 15, 2017 2:28 PM PDT

The things living in your gut


100,000,000,000,000. One hundred trillion, that is the number of bacteria that live in and on you. That number is so inconceivably large that putting it into understandable terms is difficult, but think of this: bacteria in and on your body outnumber your cells 10 to 1. And the bacteria that live in your intestines, known as your gut flora, is just as important as it is numerous.

Gut flora has many functions. To name a few: they help digest your food, protect against pathogens, provide essential nutrients and vitamins, and even support your immune system. Because these bacteria provide us with so many unique services, scientists often think of our microbiome as our second genome. And for good reason, too, as the concentrations of our gut flora affects our entire corporal health, determining whether or not we suffer from certain diseases such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, and Crohn's. Gut flora can even go so far as to influence brain behavior and development!

When we are born, we are sterile from any bacteria, and in the moments after we emerge into the world, we start to form our gut flora. There is currently a lot of research in the field of how disturbances to gut flora (via antibiotics, or cesarean versus vaginal birth, or breast feeding versus formula feeding) at a young age can impact you later on in life. To learn more in depth, watch the video!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
MAR 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 22, 2020
SpaceX to Send Astronauts to the ISS for the First Time in May
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program opened the door to the possibility that American commercial space companies like Bo ...
MAR 23, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAR 23, 2020
These Monkeys Help Wild Deer Avoid Predators
There can be power in numbers, and deer are keenly aware of this. The bulk of wild deer like to travel in large herds be ...
MAR 23, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 23, 2020
Here's Why the Planets Orbit the Sun How They Do
All the solar system’s planets follow nearly the same plane and direction as they orbit the Sun, and this is somet ...
APR 07, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 07, 2020
As the Seasons Change, Hornet Colonies Make Tough Decisions
Hornet colonies can be particularly susceptible to the Earth’s seasonal changes. That’s why when the climate ...
MAY 03, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 03, 2020
Some Snakes Only Use Venomous Bites as a Last Resort
Snakes have a bad rap with people because so many species are known to bite when disturbed. An even smaller subset of sn ...
MAY 14, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAY 14, 2020
NASA's ICESat-2 Mission Reports Changes in Arctic Ice Thickness
Arctic sea ice is vital to Earth's climate system, and recent decades have seen troubling declines in sea ice due to ...
Loading Comments...