I hope I don’t get into trouble squealing on my bacteria and virus overlords. For reasons I will show later, I think that bacteria and viruses control our bodies even more than our brains do.
Consider first that bacteria make up between 2 and 9 pounds of our body weight. This number doesn’t fluctuate that much.
Viruses fluctuate more. When you have a cold, obviously there are more viruses than when you don’t. So we can’t say exactly how many pounds viruses add to this equation.
Our mighty human brains weigh in at about 3 pounds. Good, one might think, at least in some people that outweighs the bacteria and viruses. But then one has to realize that 80% of this is water weight. Thus there is 0.6 pounds of actual brain tissue in the human body.
I know this is a big what if, but what if that weight of bacteria can also control our body and thoughts.
Shouldn’t 2 pounds of bacteria and viruses be able to fight off a mere 0.6 pounds of brain tissue. I will now tell you why I think that not only is it possible but I think it happens most of the time.
The first point is why did it take until the nineties and noughties for humans to figure out that sneezing or coughing into the inner elbow is more sanitary and slows the spread of bacteria and viruses?
My second point might be only my experience, but when I cook or do things in the kitchen, I am way more likely to sneeze or cough and not be able to do it in the inside of my elbow. Either the sneezes and coughs are more severe, or I’m not thinking about possible sneezes and am not ready, or it takes too long to let go of a pan handle to sneeze into that inner elbow. Whichever way it is, I’m sure that other people can easily catch my viruses and bacteria in my kitchen.
Of course both bacteria and viruses want to be spread so both reasons show that my limited brainpower is doing what they want, not what I want.
Maybe it goes further, long ago viruses and bacteria realized they wanted to spread. So they made their unwitting hosts into social animals.
Yes I see it all now. I think we’re able to battle our overlords sometimes, (like with the inside elbow sneeze and cough), because our bacteria didn’t realize what they were doing when humans discovered antibiotics.
Still, they eventually saw the error of their ways and have slowly made antibiotics less effective.
As further proof they’re gaining the upper hand again, it is said now that many bacteria are good for you. These are called probiotics. I’m trying not to believe the propaganda. But it’s hard not to when for the last few years many yogurts have advertised their many probiotics and the obvious benefit of that in your diet.
Update: Scientific American now says that bacteria in the stomach may effect the brain’s function. Here is the article.