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The Organisms That Call Your Body Home

The human body is made up of an ultra-complex system of ever-shifting cells. Everything we experience in life is a creation of the 200 different cell types populating our bodies, never sleeping and always working. Joining those 200 cells types are countless different other organisms, including bacteria and viruses. Many of these coexist peacefully in your body.

Herpes simplex is just one of the common and potentially asymptomatic viruses in the human body, which flare up in some cases – but don’t in others. This article will reveal a few of those to you and their interesting tales.

The Dormant Viruses

The year 2000 heralded the completion of the Human Genome Project. This incredibly ambitious work sequenced human DNA, unlocking the origins of humanity. You can now buy your own human genome for a princely sum, provided in multiple volumes. Part of the human genome project revealed weaknesses to viruses within our DNA – and, stunningly, inclusions of viruses themselves. Just like bacteria, viruses are usually kept at bay with effective clinical area cleaning. However, they can’t be tackled with natural or synthetic [made by scientists] antibiotics. As a result, they have persevered, and there are now 26 viruses carried within the DNA of most human beings, lying dormant. Don’t worry – they’re not going to activate.

Fungi

Typically summoning up images of mushrooms and mould, fungi play an active part throughout the body and help to maintain natural biology. Whilst excess levels can bring on conditions such as athlete’s foot, thrush and benign yet unpleasant symptoms such as body odour, every human in fact has helpful levels of fungi in their bodies. As this report from the Society for Applied Microbiology reports, there are hundreds of species of fungi in the human body that live in a careful ecosystem – a system with checks and controls – and are in fact crucial to our day-to-day health.

Healthy Bacteria

There are 100 trillion good bacteria that live in or on the human body. “Humans,” says Dr David Relman, a Stanford microbiologist, are like coral, “an assemblage of life-forms living together.” With this new understanding, we now see the proliferation of probiotic products – the growth of which was largely driven by Japanese markets – a market that has swollen to over £25bn. The theory is that your gut has a varied and productive flora – which is true – and that having these drinks would help to supplement it. Whilst true in theory, there is little scientific evidence to support that these drinks offer an observable medical benefit; many popular products just provide a single strain the most common bacteria whilst promising miracles. Multiple studies and the experienced views of specialists have demonstrated that the ingested bacteria often aren’t able to make it past the digestive environment of the stomach alive. Instead, if you’re keen on trying out a probiotic drink, scientists recommend saving your money and eating plain old yoghurt or a traditional kefir drink.

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The flora the bacteria can potentially help to supplement are very clever. Scientists have established links between your gut flora activity and the production of serotonin – your brain’s stress chemical. Essentially, there is a physical reason behind gut wrenching feelings.

Your body is more than just your organs and feelings. At a microscopic level, billions of ‘creatures’ and viruses work every day symbiotically [cooperatively] to keep your body working.

By Jane Stokes, freelance writer, 25 February 2018

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