gut microbes

Gut Check: Based on New Microbe Study, Should We Blame Geography for Obesity?

Does this bacteria make me look fat?

I ask because in the latest search for causes of the obesity epidemic, the one victim of sausage-like finger pointing is the community of microbes residing in the human gut. And according to the surprising recent work by UC Berkeley grad student Taichi Suzuki, it seems that where you live goes a great way to determining what microbes you have.

The Teeming Metropolis of You

You are mostly not you.

That is to say that 90 percent of the cells residing in your body are not human cells, they are microbes. Viewed from the perspective of most of its inhabitants, your body is not so much the temple and vessel of the human soul as it is a complex and ambulatory feeding mechanism for a methane reactor in your small intestine.

This is the kind of information microbiologists like to share at dinner parties, and you should too, especially if you can punctuate it with a belch.

From the Fall 2011 The Good Fight issue of California.
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