What you are made of?

This very accessible, kid-friendly video is about understanding the Human Microbiome.

Your body is made of trillions of cells, specifically, human cells. Around the beginning of the 21st century, scientists learned that the human body contains many trillions more microbial cells. This is the microbiome: the collection of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and other microbes) living in and on the human body. It has been part of us, evolving, interacting, and helping to determine our fate as organisms, since before the emergence of the human species itself. Scientists have known about the presence of microorganisms on and in the human body since the discovery of E. coli, but recognizing the importance of the microbiome is very recent.

There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi in and on our bodies than there are human cells. Scientists increasingly recognize that these microorganisms have a huge influence on our health. An imbalance of unhealthy and healthy microbes in the intestines may contribute to weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and other disorders. We now know that gut microbiota also affects our mood, anxiety levels, stress resilience, and depression.

Besides general interest, this is about understanding your dual existence as 1. A singular person in the world, and 2. As a gigantic mobile colony made of millions of cooperating cells many of which are “guest workers” here to make a living, but not really part of you.

You are an ecosystem.

Credit to artist Ben Arthur by way of NPR