How’s Your Microbiota Today?

[“… there are more than 10 trillion cells in the human body, and ten times that many bacteria living inside it (yes, we are more “they” than “us,” at least in number).”  Spectrums, chapter 2]

Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford, suggests that we would do well to begin regarding the human body as “an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants.” This humbling new way of thinking about the self has large implications for human and microbial health, which turn out to be inextricably linked.  Indeed, many researchers now claim that human health should be thought of as a function of an individual’s microbiota, i.e., of an individual’s community of microbes, rather than of the individual. Such a paradigm shift is timely, since as a civilization, we’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota with a multifronted war on bacteria and a diet notably detrimental to its well-being.

More at The New York Times.

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