Congratulations to Ed Yong on his new book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, in which he explores the microbes that live and multiply all over humans and other animals, helping us thrive and shaping our behavior.
While our view of microbes is still heavily skewed by the germ theory of disease, which paints them solely as pathogens, recent research has shown that an estimated 50% of the cells we carry around are microbial in nature, and only a fraction of these actually make us ill.
In fact, each animal is an ecosystem and our individual microbiomes play an essential role in keeping us healthy. They help us evolve, break down nutrients from the food we eat so we can better assimilate them, teach our immune system how to defend us from disease, and favor brain development, among other things. Scientists even found that germ-free mice exhibited autism-like behavior, and that probiotic therapies can have positive effects on depression and anxiety.
Yong cited seven of our articles in his book, all of which you can access for free for the next 30 days
The Influence of Milk Oligosaccharides on Microbiota of Infants: Opportunities for Formulas, Annual Review of Food Science and Technology
Biofilms and Marine Invertebrate Larvae: What Bacteria Produce That Larvae Use to Choose Settlement Sites, Annual Review of Marine Science
The Microbiome in Infectious Disease and Inflammation, Annual Review of Immunology
Ecological Physiology of Diet and Digestive Systems, Annual Review of Physiology
Vaginal Microbiome: Rethinking Health and Disease, Annual Review of Microbiology
Human Milk Glycans Protect Infants Against Enteric Pathogens, Annual Review of Nutrition
The Human Gut Microbiome: Ecology and Recent Evolutionary Change, Annual Review of Microbiology
For more, listen to Yong discussing his book with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross on August 18, 2016.