An average belly button is not as harmless as it may seem. Any average Belly Button – or Navel – has over 50 species of bacteria. Strangely, the bacteria differ in different people, making it as a total of thousands of species that have been identified. Some of the species are common, but most are different.
As we looked at belly buttons we saw a terrible, yawning, richness of life. The average belly button hosted 50 or so species and across belly buttons we found thousands of species (and as we sample more belly buttons, we continue to find more species). The vast majority of these species are rare. Right away something struck an ecological chord. The belly buttons reminded me of rain forests. In some tropical rain forests, even though there are many species of trees, a few species are both present in most forests and common when present. Those species have been called oligarchs; the belly buttons seemed to also have oligarchs too.
Why all these species come up and thrive in that “harmless” belly button, no one quite knows. Even why the differences arise?
More and more studies seem to point to the conclusion that diverse skin microbiota helps us defend against pathogens and may forestall some immune dysfunctions (including allergies). The composition of our bacteria may even influence how we date and mate. But what determines which bacteria we have, which life forms are dividing on you as you read?
For now it seems, the scientists think that many factors could be impacting the emergence of certain types of bacteria on the skin.
One can imagine many factors that influence which bacteria are on your skin; whether you were born c-section or vaginally, gender, age, weight, whether you are an innie or an outie, whether you live in a city or the country, what climate you live in, whether or not you have a dog, and maybe even where you grew up or where your mother lived when she was pregnant with you.
Some other scientists who have also looked at this remnant of the birth, have discussed about its importance:
“I propose that umbilicus, together with the surrounding skin area, is an honest signal of individual vigor,” Sinkkonen wrote in the latest issue of The FASEB Journal. “More precisely, I suggest that the symmetry, shape, and position of umbilicus can be used to estimate the reproductive potential of fertile females, including risks of certain genetically and maternally inherited fetal anomalies.”
Navel or belly button has been held to be very important in the yogic practices. It is supposed to be the most important point in the whole body when it comes to energy management and body sustenance. This somewhat accidental attempt to study the belly button more is probably a good idea to look deeper into something that is so visible, yet so less understood.