Where art thou, Bacterium!

There is no point in trying to hide from your bacteria, for they are on and around you always, in numbers you can’t conceive. If you are in good health and averagely diligent about your hygiene, you will have a herd of about one trillion bacteria grazing on your fleshy plains—about a hundered thousand of them on every square centimeter of skin. They are there to dine off the ten billion or so flakes of skin you shed every day, plus all the tasty oils and fortifying minerals that seep out from every pore and fissure. You are for them the ultimate food court, with the convenience of warmth and constant mobility thrown in. By way of thanks, they give you B.O.” pp. 302, Bill Bryson.

Before you start checking how bad your armpits smell, there are bacteria everything and there’s a reason why. They were here before we ever got here and ultimately, they are THE reason why and how we got here. Bacteria may not build cities or have interesting social lives, but they will be here when the Sun explodes. This is their plant, and we are on it only because they allow us to be.

Here’s the reason why we need bacteria for. Bacteria, never forget, got along for billion of years without us. We couldn’t survive a day without them. They process our wastes and make them usable again; without their diligent munching nothing would rot. They purify our water and keep our soils productive. Bacteria synthesize vitamins in our gut, convert the things we eat into useful sugars and polysaccharides, and go to war on alien microbes that slip down our gullet. pp. 303

That’s the fact about bacteria and when you smell something rot, that’s our good friend Bacteria at their best. :-)

P.S. If you wash your hands at least three times a day, you’ll reduce the chance of getting a common cold by 50%.