Resist the urge to pick up the hand-sanitizer when I tell you this: Scientists recently made a germ map of the human body, and guess what? If you happen to be fairly healthy, you're probably carrying about 10,000 species of microbes around right now. If you happen to be under the weather, you're probably just one big microbe. (Just kidding.) Ewwwww!
Not really. Even though we tend to associate the word bacteria with other, scarier words like "flesh-eating," bacteria can also latch right on to nicer words -- like "beneficial." In fact, most of those 10,000 species aren't making you sick, they're making sure you don't get sick. In quite the site-specific fashion, too: While individual people might have different bacteria, everybody's personal bacteria does the same job in the same places.
It's kind of like this ...
Say you and your neighbor have housekeepers (OMG, I'm so jealous!). You each have different housekeepers who use different cleaning supplies in your two different homes, but both of them scrub the toilet when they're doing the bathroom. Make sense?
So here are a few examples of the good stuff bacteria does in and around your body:
Bacteria in your gut is essential for the digestion of certain proteins and fat and producing inflammation-fighting chemicals.
As you probably know, the bacteria living in your lady parts absolutely has to be balanced -- otherwise, yeast infections!
During pregnancy, that same bacteria changes, "perhaps to give the fetus as healthy a passage as possible."
Good bacteria has also been shown to radically improve liver function, and that's pretty huge, considering the liver is basically your body's built-in detox system.
See, bacteria is a beautiful thing! Mostly. So seriously, stop it with the hand-sanitizer. I think you might have a problem.
How does it make you feel to know your body is home to 10,000 species of germs?
Image via Yale Rosen/Flickr