How do you feel about knowing your body is only made up of 43% human cells, the rest is formed from "microscopic colonists"? The headline on the BBC website to promote a new series of radio programmes about our relationship with our own microbes states this fact loudly to grab our attention.
Every single one of us has inside (and on our skin) our own unique mix of these colonists that keep us healthy and well. Without these we would not be able to survive, simple. The latest research and science looking into these microscopic non-human parts of us call this our "microbiome", and there is so much work being done to see how keeping this microbiome healthy and strong could aid many illnesses and diseases, including inflammatory bowel conditions, Parkinsons, allergies etc.
The research is looking at how the microbiome is unique to each individual and is formed from what we eat and our exposed to.
With the onset of antibiotic resistant superbugs and antibiotic allergies on the rise we will soon need an alternative way to manage the medication.
Antibiotics are wondrous medications that save countless lives every day. Some of these can be wide acting, called broad spectrum, and they will go in a wipe all bacteria (bad and good). One such is amoxicillin. Others are more targeted to very specific bacteria, but can still have an impact on the good bacteria. In the research about our unique microbiome the worry is that heavy use of antibiotics has damaged our microbiomes beyond repair, wiping out a lot of the good bacteria permanently and this has led to increased allergies and other health problems.
Linked to this the discussion also links in with "seeding" during birthing - particularly for the c-section babies who miss the mother's good bacteria via a vaginal birth. Could this be linked in some way to the start of the unique microbes in us?
I know many people who have been speaking about this very topic of good gut bacteria and the link to our overall health for many years, but there was never any science to back this up. The new scientific research into this is a good and positive start and hopefully will bring about a change in due course.
The BBC Radio 4 programmes on this are available to listen to here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09zgykv