I was instantly interested. Do I consume germs? (My germaphobe husband might gag if he read this tweet.)
What I discovered was really interesting. There are “living” germs in a lot of our foods today (like yogurt – I knew that, but didn’t really understand why). You can also buy pills for your gut, creams for your face, tablets for your breath – all that include a living germ.
There is a lot of research being conducted right now on the benefits of germs in your food and products you use daily. The article’s author, Carl Zimmer shares that there is ample evidence that the 100 trillion microbes that call us home–the microbiome–exert important influences on our biology. While some of them can make us ill, for the most part they help maintain our health–nurturing our immune system, moisturizing our skin, breaking down food and toxic compounds.
Actual research on humans has been rare. Scientists have only been able to study the microbiome with much clarity in the past couple decades, so they’ve got a late start. Another reason is that the microbiome is different from our own cells and organs. It’s an ecosystem made up of hundreds of species, with lots of diffuse, interlinked effects on our bodies.
The cool thing I took from this article is that many of these microbiome’s uses in food and body products can be “enriched with DNA fragments of beneficial bacterial cells” much like genetic modification in our crop production.
The technology and science in our food industry is amazing – and they are doing years of research to verify that this food is SAFE for us. They don’t take anything for granted, but through the use of technology, we can benefit. Even if it does mean ingesting germs. 😉