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10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness

Popular Science

By: Alanna Collen(Author)

341 pages, 16 plates with colour & b/w photos and colour illustrations; b/w illustrations

William Collins (Harper Collins imprint)

Paperback | May 2016 | #228686 | ISBN-13: 9780007584055
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £8.99 $12/€10 approx
Hardback | Apr 2015 | #220747 | ISBN-13: 9780007584031
Out of Print Details

About this book

There's more to being human than you think. 10% Human explores the extraordinary world of the powerful microbes that make up 90% of the human body. You are more 'them' than you are 'you'. You are just 10% human. For every one of the cells that make your body, there are nine impostor cells. You are not just flesh and blood, muscle and bone, brain and skin, but bacteria and fungi. You are not an individual, but a colony. Far from being passive, the trillions of microbes that live on and in you are intimately involved in running your body. Even aspects that you think of entirely as 'you' turn out to be run by 'them' – like your immune system.

In this riveting, shocking and beautifully written book Alanna Collen explores the modern epidemics of 'Western' diseases – obesity, autism, mental health problems, gut disorders, allergies, auto-immunity, and even cancer – and argues that most have their root in our failure to cherish our most fundamental and enduring relationship: that with our personal colony of microbes. Antibiotics, antibacterial cleaners, rapidly changing diets and our obsession with hygiene vastly reduced the microbe community we carry. Unlike our human cells, though, we can change our microbes for the better.

10% Human provides a revelatory guide to the role of your body's microbes in health and happiness. This is popular science at its most relevant: life will never seem the same again.

"A fascinating study of the intertwined lives of microbes and humans, 10% Human, is a manual for the new, healthy way of being dirty [...] Read it, and you will learn to love your microbiota"

"A welcome antidote to the simplistic "boost your health with probiotics" books and articles posing as science (but serving mostly commerce), Collen dares to tell the messy truth about what science knows – and doesn't know – about the microbes that live in us, live with us, and in some ways even become us [...] [Collen] is clearly an expert in the field [...] fascinating [...] Everything you wanted to know about microbes but were afraid to ask"

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Alanna Collen is a science writer, with both bachelor's and master's degrees in biology from Imperial College London, and a PhD in evolutionary biology from University College London and the Zoological Society of London. She is a well-travelled zoologist, an expert in bat echolocation, and an accidental collector of tropical diseases. During her scientific career, Alanna has written for the Sunday Times Magazine, as well as about wildlife for She has appeared on numerous radio and television programmes, including BBC Radio 4's Tribes of Science and Saturday Live, and BBC One's adventure-wildlife show Lost Land of the Volcano. She lives in Bedfordshire with her husband.

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