9 Facts About Bacteria (That May Surprise You)

By Maggie Rulli 01.09.2015 blog
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It turns out, there are more reasons to love bacteria than to fear them — the latest being a the discovery of a new bacteria-based antibiotic  that allows scientists to fight infections that kill hundreds of thousands of people each year! But there’s more to bacteria than their antibiotic qualities. Check out these nine facts — some of them may surprise you:

1. You’re More Bacteria Than Human

This fact gets me every time. For every human cell that makes up your body, there are 10 cells of bacteria living on your body. Here’s another one – there are are more bacteria in your intestine then there are people on earth. So in sum: your body is just plain full of bacteria.

2. You Eat Bacteria. On Purpose. And You Probably Like It

Many foods are created by purposefully adding bacteria. Some examples: common snacks like yogurt, certain cheeses, sourdough bread and some pickles – and increasingly popular foods like Kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, kefir and miso. More and more research supports the benefits of these “good bacteria”-rich foods and says they help aid digestion.

3. Some Bacteria Are Bad … and Some Are Really Bad

Some bad bacteria are annoying but relatively harmless –  like the bacteria that cause pimples or the ones that make your breath bad. And then some bacteria are very bad – like bacteria that cause infections and bacterial contagions that can be fatal. Luckily, of all the bacteria out there, less than 1 percent will actually make you sick.

4. But a Whole Lot of Bacteria Are Good … and Some Are Really Good

The large majority of the bacteria living with you are actually good. They co-exist with your body and even help fight off bad bacteria. And then there are also some bacteria that are really good. These bacteria work with your body to help you function – without these bacteria, you wouldn’t work.

5. More Bacterial Diversity Might Mean Less Obesity

Bacteria in our guts help us digest our food, and now, scientists say our microbial diversity might also cause or prevent obesity. They hope that by studying human bacteria in the guts of mice, science will one day be able to figure out how our bacteria can keep us slim.

6. And Bacteria Might Help Cure a Bunch of Other Illnesses as Well

Everything from asthma, allergies, certain types of diabetes, upset stomachs and a bunch of other auto-immune diseases have all been linked to a lack of bacterial biodiversity.

7. You Can Change Your Bacteria!

The thing that excites scientists the most about all their new studies and research is that bacteria can be changed – and they can be changed fast. You can’t change your genes. Meaning, if you have a genetic disease, your DNA is stuck with that disease and you have to take drugs to fix it. But the genetic makeup of your bacteria can be altered. So, if you have a disease caused by bacteria, you could theoretically alter your bacteria’s DNA by changing up the bacterial diversity in your body. This shake-up would rid you of the disease entirely. And now that science is showing a lot more diseases are caused by bacteria than previously thought, this new way of thinking might help save and improve millions of lives.

8. Bacteria Are Crazy Tough

Bacteria can live in some of the harshest conditions you could possibly imagine. In the deepest ends of the ocean and the highest tops of the mountains? Check. Buried in rock and floating in the air? Check again. Living off radioactive waste or in near-boiling water? Yup. Heck, Martian bacteria have even survived a meteor ride from space. Bacteria are crazy tough.

9. Bacteria Are Old

They were around before the Dinosaurs. So yeah – they’re that kinda old. Researchers claim to have found bacteria from more than 3 and a half billion years ago, and they say the particles will be here on Earth long after the human race is gone.

10. Here’s a Whole Bunch of Other Awesome Things Bacteria Can Do

Bacteria ferment the beans that end up  making chocolate and coffee, and they help make vinegar. They’re used in mining to eat through rock. They can repair concrete and create other building materials. They can even be made into a sustainable packaging material. They can detect pollution and find land mines. They clean up oil spills and nuclear waste. They can be used in pest control and maybe, someday soon, as energy for batteries.

You’re up: So what do you think … are you ready to make bacteria your new BFFs??

comments

  1. Lauren Mason

    Some of this is really cool and strange at the same time! But, the thing about bacteria might mean less obesity is a little strange. Because not all of the stuff in that article was proved as positive. It said ” scientists say our microbial diversity might also cause OR prevent obesity.”. And I think no one really wants to be obese. So all I’m saying is that maybe we shouldn’t be all woop-di-do about this.

  2. Pesesphany

    The whole “more bacterial diversity might mean less obesity”… Does any body think that sound kinda strange?

  3. Pesesphany

    The whole “more bacterial diversity might mean less obesity”… Does any body think that sound kinda strange?

  4. Arianna hall

    in my school i see people suck thumbs and pick noses

    • starlina ballesteros

      that is so true

  5. Arianna hall

    wow now I know about bacteria

  6. Kevin

    That’s really cool!
    I love learning about my body!

  7. damian

    wow that is really fascinating. i did not know this at all. i hope you show my comment tomorrow

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