BACTERIA RULE !! — The Human Petri Dish / Microbiota

Bacteria have always had bad press.  They have  been deemed the cause of disease, plagues, mass destruction.  And to be sure certain bacteria can be the cause of much disease and human suffering.

But what is rarely appreciated is how intimately connected each one of us is with bacteria.  These are the lowly one celled creatures who do not even possess a cell nucleus.  They are known as prokaryocytes vs eukaryoctes ( who do posses a cell nucleus).

Yet we now understand that our relationship with them is mutually beneficial and necessary.  While the average human being is composed of 10 trillion cells.  Our bodies are colonized by 100 trillion bacteria. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/science/21gut.html?hp 

They populate our intestinal tract in such massive numbers that our stool is predominately bacteria.  They coat our skin to such a degree that if we could only visualize bacteria, we would still retain our entire physical form and body structure.

They process food products, produce vitamins, metabolize what we ingest.  They also keep our immune systems purring and defend our bodies against malignancies and their toxic cousins.  We exist in symbiotic relationship with them.

In fact they inhabit every cell of our body.  The eukaryocytic cells of which our bodies are composesd are powered by mitochondria (remember Bio 101 ?)  Mitochondria posses unique DNA which differs from our own nuclear DNA.  A billion or more years ago they were free living bacteria that became incorporated in our cells.  They power the engine of life for us all to this day.

Symbiosis is the name of the game.  We are mutually interdependent.  For my patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, manipulating their own gut bacteria with probiotics or nonabsorbable antibiotics ( like XIFAXAN) can markedly improve their gut function.

So let us recognize the majesty of nature in all its forms, including its most basic forms–bacteria.

Leave a Reply