More than half of your body is not human, say scientists. According to a report published by BBC, human cells make up only 43% of the body’s total cell count. The rest are microscopic colonists.
“They are 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.
Understanding this hidden half of ourselves – our microbiome – is rapidly transforming understanding of diseases from allergy to Parkinson’s. The field is even asking questions of what it means to be ‘human’ and is leading to new innovative treatments as a result.
This report originally appeared here