In the world, there are large creatures like elephants, as well as tiny creatures.
Hi, I‘m the smallest creature，a little microbe. You can’t see me with your eyes, and I am your lifelong best buddy. This time, I‘ll tell you my story.
You can imagine our microbe world as a special school. The students here have different shapes.
Some are round, some are skinny, some are squishy, and some even have wiggling tails. There are millions of students even in the size of a full stop (way more than the number of people on the playground!).
But if you‘re curious about how we look, you can see us under a microscope.
Just like your school, we also have different classes: the bacteria class, the virus class, and the fungi class. The students in the virus class are very small. Some of them are like pets compared to the bacteria students.
Our schools are open in every corners of the world. They can be found in everything in your house.
And some schools even open in places you may be afraid to go, like volcanoes and the deep sea...
Now, you might be wondering how we met? Well, when you were inside your mammy‘s belly, I couldn’t touch you just yet. Your mammy‘s belly protected you by isolating everything from the outside world. You grew inside your mother’s belly until you were born, when you touched the new world and I climbed onto your skin.
But at that time, we only lived on your skin because it was not easy for us to enter your body. Your skin is as strong as the Great Wall of China, keeping us out.
However, when you took your first bite of food, we slipped into your body. But don't be afraid, 99% of our classmates in school are friendly and won't harm you. We can help you with digestion, maintain your body's health, and even make you feel happy.
In every class, there are a few troublemakers and everyone calls them “germs.” Your body has a great defense power. For example, when you eat germs, your tummy juice can kill most of them. However, sometimes these troublemakers can escape your body‘s protective measures and make you sick. Bad bacteria can make you uncomfortable, like sore throats and upset tummies. Bad viruses can cause colds, the flu, and even COVID-19
So, what can we do to stop them? Washing hands and avoiding eating bad food.
But there are also ways to help you against diseases, such as using vaccines made from us.
Let me tell you a secret. Do you know how food goes bad? It‘s because some classmates misbehave on it. For example, some troublemakers from the fungi class can cause mold to grow on bread or fruits, making them bad. So, if you want to keep your food fresh, you need to prevent them from touching your food. You can use a storage bag or put it in the refrigerator (because we don't like the cold).
But I also have friends who are good at making food. For example, yeast can make bread, lactobacillus can make yogurt, and some fungi classmates are delicious themselves, like various types of mushrooms.
After talking about your food, let's discuss my food. We are not picky eaters. We can eat anything, from plants and animals (dead or alive) to rocks and soil. That's why we can help keep your world clean and healthy. We can break down the garbage you throw away and turn it into nutrients, returning them to the soil. Be grateful to us because without us, the planet would be covered in trash!
But the truth is, I also have dislikes and preferences when it comes to food. For example, plastics are like bones with no taste and are difficult to digest. It could take me hundreds of years to eat them. But things made of paper are like delicious cookies that I can quickly finish. So, your mom would tell you to use more paper bags and fewer plastic bags. We eat plastic very slowly, and you wouldn't want us to deal with that problem every day, would you?
But in fact, the microbes accompanying you in your body are changing all the time. Just like different countries have different people, different places have different microbes. When you go to a new place, some old microbes leave, while new ones come.
Even you stay with friends and family can exchange microbes with each other. Your eating habits and moods can also change the microbes. So the microbes inside your body, like fingerprints, are unique to each person, even twins. As you grow, the microbes inside your body are constantly changing.
There are far more of us in your body than you can imagine. When you reach adulthood, I have over 1 kg of companions inside you.
It‘s been a joyful time being with you, and the happy times pass by for many, many years until you grow old and eventually pass away. your body won‘t any more, and you won’t have any feeling.
At that time, I can no longer play with you. However, I will still be by your side, just like many of my works in the soil, decomposing your body and turning it into nutrients released into the soil, nourishing the flowers and plants in the soil. And you, you will become a part of these beautiful plants, entering a new cycle and experiencing a new life.