You are not alone. Your gut is teaming with bacteria that have been linked to everything from autism to obesity and may even be influencing your mood and behavior. Whether this collection of microorganisms, your microbiota, is thriving or suffering has huge implications for your risk of a number of diseases including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and even mental illness.
Each of us is colonized by a dense collection of microbes that outnumber our own human cells 10 to 1. That’s right, you are more microbe than you are human. In fact if you count up the total amount of genetic material you carry around, only 1% is human in origin, the rest comes from your associated bacteria. Perhaps, a more accurate way to think of yourself is as a super-organism, small part human and large part microbial. These bacteria have been with our species since we evolved millennia ago on the savannahs of Africa. As researchers study this immense collection of bacteria we house, it is becoming more evident each day that they are an integral part of our biology and our health.