The Microbiome In Your Body Thrives With Regular Physical Contact


Published:

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Hugging helps the immune system, cures depression, reduces stress and induces sleep. Gut bacteria also appears to thrive with regular physical contact, suggests new data that shows ‘huddling’ actions lead to a synchronised microbiome.

Beneficial bacteria in the gut are known to attack pathogens, manufacture vitamins and even act as anti-cancer agents. Recent research has strengthened the scientific understanding that the microbes that live in your gut may affect what goes on in your body.

“‘When people with different gut microbiomes interact, they share their symbiotic bacteria through touch,” said Aura Raulo, lead author and graduate student at Oxford University’s department of zoology.

“I might host a bacteria in my gut that is well-behaved, and fits my symbiotic gut community, but might turn out to be an invasive pathogen in another person who is not accustomed to it.”

The animal data, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, have implications for human health as microbes refine immune defense. By sharing microbial allies and enemies, infections are reduced by opportunist pathogens in a show of cooperative immunity, the team from Oxford University suggest.

“Understanding that social environment and stress are directly linked to gut microbiome, could go some way to explaining why the western world experiences so many epidemics of autoimmune diseases, and help us to better treat people with them,” she said.

“The microbiome is the link between our internal physiology and the external ecosystem. When tackling modern epidemics of autoimmune disease, we cannot ignore the environmental problems our ecosystem is facing, nor the social problems our culture is facing.”

Recent work has found that frequent intimate kissing enhances mutual transmission of mouth microbiota in humans.

Social proximity is also considered a good predictor of gut microbial composition in howler monkeys and baboons (Papio cynocephalus) regardless of shared environment, diet or relatedness.

Study Details

Collaborating with scientists from the University of Arizona and the City University of New York (CUNY), the team looked at the gut microbiota within a social network of red-bellied lemurs.

Data were collected from family groups at a time of the year when infants were born and fruit availability was generally low.

Eight groups were observed on a rotating basis with age, sex and identity noted. Data was also collected on behavioral states at five minute intervals.

Social behaviors, such as mutual grooming and huddling were recorded with more than 40 hours of behavioral data used to investigate questions related to social behavior (total 19 individuals from 5 groups). Fecal samples were also collected from all focal individuals.

Results showed that the gut microbiota of red-bellied lemurs were dominated by the phyla Bacterioidetes, Proteobacteria and Firmicutes.

The lemurs were found to have gut microbiota with slight temporal fluctuations and strong social group-specific composition.

Surprisingly, individual sociality was negatively associated with gut microbial diversity. However, position within the social network predicted gut microbial composition.

“The gut microbiome of red-bellied lemurs most closely resembles that of their group members,” said Andrea Baden, co-senior author of the research and assistant professor of anthropology at Hunter College.

“They are extremely cohesive and in contact a great deal, and rarely if ever interact with other groups, so this makes sense. This explains a great deal of individual variation, but genetic kinship might explain some as well. We know that infants inherit a suite of microbes from their mother, during birth. Red-bellied lemurs leave their natal groups to form their own groups when they become adults. They might retain some bacteria from their natal family group.”

Stress Coping Mechanisms

The research was unable to answer some key questions such as determining whether the bacteria were good or bad, or even their identity.

The effect of stress on gut microbiome also required further investigation as Raulo acknowledged that “social contact, stress physiology and gut microbiome are all intensely related.”

“Your social contact defines how much stress you interact with, and both can influence the cocktail of microbes in your gut.”

“People find social situations, such as competition stressful,” she added. “People cope with stress through social means, by seeking and giving affection, grooming and touching each other.”

“This way, social contact also balances stress. Regardless of whether they are blood relatives, people that live in close quarters, also come to share similar gut bacteria. Synchronized physiological systems make us work more ‘as one’.”

This article was republished from Prevent Disease.

See also:
Caesarean Sections Can Cause Microbiome Changes Which Lead To Obesity
Don’t Hate Your Gut: It May Help You Lose Weight, Fight Depression And Lower Blood Pressure

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

March 24, 2019

Retrograde Mercury makes the second in a series of three conjunctions with mystical Neptune today. The pairing sparks imaginations as well as idealistic ambitions. Old and new dreams vie for equal attention. The Scorpio Moon lends its support for…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

March 2019

Save $25 by registering for both workshops! You may register for Part 1 only, however, Part 1 is a prerequisite for Part 2. You must have completed Part 1 to participate in Part 2. ...

Cost: $225

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, Suite 1-A
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

With Julie Rost Meditation is more important now than ever, and yet is seemingly unattainable to so many people. This retreat is intended to motivate you from within, through the actual...

Cost: $175 ($150 when you register by March 1st)

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-479-3865
Contact Name: Julie Rost
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With Jerry Marchand at Wisdom of the Ages, Simsbury, CT. Shop rare crystals and join us for live Celtic harp and guided meditation! 

Cost: $15

Where:
Wisdom of the Ages
Simsbury, CT


Telephone: (860) 651-1172
Website »

More information

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use your...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Have you heard of natural birth control and wondered how that can be possible? Or are you trying to or planning to conceive? This session is for you! We’ll talk about the benefits of charting...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Democracy Center
45 Mt. Auburn St
Cambridge, MA  02138
View map »


Sponsor: AC Fertility Awareness
Telephone: 617-899-7624
Contact Name: Anna Churchill

More information

Discover how you can release tight muscles and improve range of motion in locked joints in a weekly ESSENTRICS stretch classes led by Raindrop Fisher, certified Essentrics instructor. Raindrop is a...

Cost: $10 drop-in / $100 for 12 classes

Where:
Village at Waterman Lake
Function Room - Chalet Bldg
715 Putnam Pike
Greenville, RI  02828
View map »


Sponsor: Healthier Fit Lifestyle
Telephone: 401-678-0950
Contact Name: Raindrop Fisher
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The newest technology taps into our most primal instincts. Learn what is going on in the brain when it reacts both positively and negatively to social media. In this Neurosculpting for Social Media...

Cost: $40

Where:
BrainHckr @ Union Wellness
64 Union Square
Somerville, MA
View map »


Sponsor: BrainHckr
Telephone: 617-821-5560
Contact Name: Katie DiChiara
Website »

More information

Wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres Network with local wellness minded business owners Enjoy the coming of spring For tickets or more info: www.facebook.com/PairedPouredPlated

Where:
Paired, Poured & Plated
290 West Main Street
Northboro, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

This 8 week series in Tai Chi will provide you with everything you need to get started in a personal Tai Chi practice. Just for Beginners—there is no expectation, and no pressure in...

Cost: $137 for 8 weeks

Where:
Spiral Path Connections
218 Boston Street
Unit 104
Topsfield, MA  01983
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiral Path
Telephone: 978-314-4264
Contact Name: Johanna Hattendorf
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

March 29 - 31 The retreat will discuss whole-body treatments, give you delicious meals, and expose you to yoga postures that are safe and help to build bone density, balance and strength....

Cost: $488

Where:
Angels’ Rest Retreat
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01337
View map »


Sponsor: Cindy Brown
Telephone: 978-266-1940
Contact Name: Cindy Brown
Website »

More information

The heart chakra is the bridge between your physical and spiritual being. It represents the opening of feelings, compassion, and the capacity to love. This workshop offers an introduction to the...

Cost: $35

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With Ross J. Miller, psychic healer, medium, regression therapist. In this unique, experiential workshop you’ll learn how to identify your guardian angels and spirit guides by name and...

Where:
Newton, MA


Telephone: (617) 527-3583
Website »

More information

1 +1 always equals 2. Well in a similar fashion EFT + Law of Attraction always equal effective and positive change.  The Law of attraction simply put is that like begets like. What you put...

Cost: $40

Where:
Northborough, MA  01532


Telephone: 508-523-7132
Website »

More information

Join us for a fun-filled afternoon of connection and communion with Spirit. Patricia Wilber-Zucker will be back with an interactive mediumship platform demonstration. Patricia, who has studied...

Cost: $35

Where:
A Place of Light
374 Main Street
Leicester, MA  01611
View map »


Sponsor: A Place of Light
Telephone: 774-289-7986
Contact Name: Susan Gale
Website »

More information

Be in the moment and instantly feel the joy! Laughter is aptly said to be the best medicine. This is one workshop that you will pat yourself on the back for taking the time out to attend. Whether...

Cost: $25 before 3/27 ($30 after)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

March 30–31 Relax, connect and be inspired to become alive with joy! Hosted by Julie McGrath of The Joy Source. Be inspired and motivated at the uplifting workshops designed to help you...

Cost: Single Occupancy = $345 Double Occupancy= $260 per person

Where:
Ashworth by the Sea
Hampton Beach, NH


Sponsor: The Joy Source
Contact Name: Julie McGrath
Website »

More information

With Tommy Priester. Intensive training for intermediate and advanced herbal students. This course includes facial, pulse, tongue, nails and sclera diagnosis and an herbal clinic.

Where:
, MA


Sponsor: Boston School of Herbal Studies
Website »

More information

6 Saturdays 10am–11:30am February 23–March 30, 2019 Taijiquan (Tai Chi ) is a healing martial art, using breath and movement together to strengthen the body and quiet...

Cost: $120

Where:
Metta Wellness
679 Pleasant Street
Paxton, MA  01612
View map »


Sponsor: Metta Wellness
Telephone: 774-245-5487
Contact Name: Rick Rocha
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags