Body invaders

By Ann Griswold • Published: April 4th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When you stare at your reflection in the bathroom mirror, what do you see? The surface of your skin? The inside of your mouth? Take a closer look! Believe it or not, scientists say bacterial cells outnumber human cells by ten to one.

But before you hop into the shower to scour the ninety trillion or so bugs from your body, relax… there’s nothing to fear. As disturbing as it may sound, bacteria are necessary to keep certain parts of your body healthy, like your skin and teeth.

One of the largest populations, adding about three pounds to your body weight, lives in the gut. These bacteria keep your G-I tract healthy by warding off pathogenic microbes and producing much-needed nutrients like Vitamin K and biotin [BYE-uh-tin]. If you’ve ever experienced G-I upset after taking antibiotics, now you know why: These drugs kill the good bacteria along with the bad. But yogurt and dairy products that contain active cultures can counteract stomach ailments by replenishing healthy intestinal bacteria.

Where do they come from? It starts the moment you’re born. Some species hop on board during the birthing process. Others enter the mouth during infancy, when children spend their time breastfeeding and fending off kisses from dear old Aunt Mildred. Many more types of bacteria are acquired from food and drink over the years.

So the next time you’re staring into the mirror, take a moment to consider exactly what is staring back at you!