Leave it to scientists to find a new way to explore the human body. Recently scientists have been looking at human beings as an ecosystem, and have already done a census of all the different bacteria that live in us and on us. Did you know that bacteria cells outnumber human cells in our bodies? That’s kind of weird – because it means that technically we are more bacteria than human!
The most recent study concerned fungi. As podiatrists, we’ve been treating foot fungus conditions for many, many years, and we know that feet are a hotbed of fungal activity – something that was confirmed by the study: “The survey turned up dozens of types of fungi – far more than anyone knew were there. In most parts of the body, fungi from the genus Malassezia dominated. One part of the body had an especially wide array were the feet.”
The researchers found at least 80 varieties of fungus on the heel and “at least 60 between the toes and at least 40 on toenails.” In other parts of the body scientists only found “between two and five different types of fungus.”
The researchers aren’t sure why feet have so many fungi but scientists suspect that walking around barefoot and the temperature of the feet promote fungus growth. I’ll bet it has a lot to do with shoes and socks too – shoes and socks provide a dark, warm, moist environment that is ideal for fungus.
Even though it never occurred to the scientists to check shoes as a possible source of the bacteria, the lead researcher did offer an excellent piece of practical advice in typical scientist speak: “It really does certainly underlie the idea that you really need to take very good care of your feet.
(Source: NPR “Research Reveals Yeasty Beasts Living On Our Skin–
Our Bodies, Our Fungi?” Rob Stein, May 22, 2013 1:01 PM)