In his celebrated poem “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman explored the multifaceted complexity of human nature, writing “Do I contradict myself?/Very well then I contradict myself;/(I am large, I contain multitudes.)” These lines, long exalted for their poetic and psychological insight, may contain more scientific truth than even Whitman himself imagined. That’s the premise of Ed Yong’s latest work, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life.
Chronic fatigue is a problem that affects a great number of people across the country and all around the world. This is an illness in which people tend to be extremely tired at all hours of the day, to an extent that it prevents them from participating in everyday activities. It is generally extremely difficult for those with chronic fatigue to feel well rested, even if they sleep significantly more than the average person.
A recent study done by scientist Ilana Brito highlights exactly how many complex factors go into human health and wellness—particularly as it relates to bacteria and the microbiomes living in and on humans.
Recently, numerous scientific studies have been conducted on the topic of microbiomes that exist within and on the bodies of humans and other organisms. These are entire ecosystems of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes that live and grow on the skin, in the gut, and across other parts of living things, typically working in symbiosis and—rather than presenting a threat—actually improving our bodily functions such as digestion, by adding metabolic functions that we otherwise lack.