Did you know that a romantic kiss with your special someone can transfer about 80 million germs between you and your partner? What’s even more surprising is that this number is incredibly small when compared to the number of microorganisms that live in the human body—that figure is in the trillions. Still, one might wonder how kissing does not result in illnesses more often with this high volume of germs being swapped back and forth with every smooch. Interestingly, kissing actually has the opposite effect, as it helps build immunity with exposure to germs that could be harmful through other means of contact.
Research has indicated that kissing evolved as a means to expose women to germs before pregnancy so that they did not contract harmful illnesses that could pose a threat to their unborn babies. This suggests that the human body is hardwired to work in harmony with bacteria to the displeasure of all the germaphobes out there. In fact, bacteria often gets a bad reputation, but it does much more good in the human body than you might suspect.
Good bacteria in the body
The trillions of microorganisms that live in the body are not all bad germs like those that cause bacterial infections. Many bacteria in the body are highly specialized organisms that are adapted to live exclusively in the human body. The “good” bacteria in the body outnumber human cells 10 to 1 and help us with biological processes ranging from digestion to growth and development. Because these bacteria can only thrive in healthy tissues, they also work to protect the body from outsiders like more harmful bacteria and viruses.
Staggering effects of bacteria
Humans simply could not survive without the bacteria our bodies host, and the effects of not having the right balance of bacteria can be rather surprising. One area of particular interest is how gut bacteria affect obesity. Individuals who have certain microbes in their intestines tend to be at healthier weights than those who don’t. This relationship between bacteria and weight has inspired some rather unappealing suggestions to treat obesity such as fecal transplant. There have also been some more reasonable suggestions like special diets that can promote a healthier balance of belly-bound microbes.
Antibiotics and bacteria
Antibiotic overuse is an issue that has had many effects for human health such as the rise of drug-resistant bacteria. On a much more personal level, using antibiotics when they are not needed can kill off some of the good bacteria in the body and lead to more serious health problems. Women will tend to notice problems with antibiotics even when they are needed, since these drugs can typically cause an imbalance of bacteria leading to vaginal yeast infections.
Foods to replenish good bacteria
In order to nurture the good bacteria in your body and keep the bad bacteria away, you may need to change up your diet. Eliminating processed foods that are high in sugar (which feeds bad bacteria) and meats treated with antibiotics should be the first step in managing a bacteria friendly diet. You can actually boost good bacteria by drinking green juices, eating more fermented foods, and opting for fresher food choices.
Now that you know a little more about the bacteria in your body, you can take charge of your health by promoting the health of these beneficial microbes.