In our bodies, to make our microbiome, we have more than 100 trillion microbes, including bacteria and viruses, outnumbering our normal cells by up to 10 to one. In fact, if you look at the genes in our bodies, we are only about 1% human, as most of our DNA is either bacteria or viral.
For 3 billion years, microbes were our planet’s sole owners, creating our biosphere, maintaining global cycles involving carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, and other nutrients. They not only made all the soil, they set the conditions for the evolution of multicellular life, meaning plants and animals, including us. They used all that time to evolve and diversify their genetic pool to adapt to the most extreme conditions and build strong resilience.
The notion that most bacteria, or germs, are intrinsically bad is widespread. But that view is wildly incorrect. In fact, our planet is run by and for these invisible microbes. New methods of studying the microbial world reveal that most of the bacteria we encounter on a daily basis, and those that reside in and on our bodies, are essential for keeping us alive.
We need to shift our thinking away from human-centric to planet-centric. Microbes were present when humans started emerging. We had to adapt and learn to thrive in a microbial world, and, in fact, microbes ended up being an essential part of human health.
Bacteria and viruses aid in digestion, and they help us exist as humans producing or delivering essential elements to our health, including some of our most precious vitamins. What we’re now learning is that they actually have a tremendous impact on many other aspects of physiologies, such as our skin health, oral health, and mental health. They even assist in actively fighting many diseases. All of this is thanks in part to our exposure to them in our earliest years when they assisted in training our immune system to recognize what needs to be protected versus what is foreign and should be fought with our inflammatory responses.
Until recently, tissue and blood were believed to be microbe free unless infected. There is now evidence that they too have a microbiome, leading to essential innovations in diagnosis and treatment of disease. Our Platform.