Human cells make up only 43% of the body's total cell count. The rest are microscopic colonists.
Understanding this hidden half of ourselves - our microbiome - is rapidly transforming understanding of diseases from allergies, immunity, to Parkinson's and many cancers. Therefore maintaining a healthy microbiome (gut health) is critical to our health and wellbeing.
Medicine is even asking questions of what it means to be "human" and is leading to a new understanding into how our bodies actually function.
"A healthy microbiome is essential to your health," says Prof Ruth Ley, the director of the department of microbiome science at the Max Planck Institute, "your body isn't just you".
No matter how well you wash, nearly every nook and cranny of your body is covered in microscopic creatures. This includes bacteria, viruses, fungi and archaea (organisms originally misclassified as bacteria). The greatest concentration of this microscopic life is in the dark murky depths of our oxygen-deprived bowels …the colon.
Prof Rob Knight, from University of California San Diego, told the BBC: "You're more microbe than you are human." "What makes us human is, in my opinion, the combination of our own DNA, plus the DNA of our gut microbes."
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