I Love You…Actually I Love Your Microbiome


Published:

What determines chemistry between two people? Who has not said, “They have good chemistry together?” We hear it so often that it seems trite. Typically, we direct that remark towards a couple that looks mismatched to our judgment. We ask ourselves, “What do they see in each other?” Our usual answer is that their 'chemistry' is just right. This is often our only way of reconciling the force of attraction between these two.

However, what if the concept of chemical attraction has a direct biological basis? New research is revealing that it does and many of those reasons had not been previously expected or explored. It is becoming increasingly apparent that our microbiome has a tremendous influence upon us. The microbiome represents all the microorganisms that are in us and on us. Astoundingly, these are so numerous that they outnumber our own innate cells by a factor of ten to one or more. The current estimate is that we harbor 100 trillion cells that we would not think of as our own. Importantly, our relationship with our microbial companions is essential to our well being. Their influence is a crucial element of metabolic pathways. They are critical participants in glucose regulation, the mediation of our immune systems, and even partially regulate our emotional responses to stress. Our relationship with these obligatory microbial partners is intimate. We cannot survive without them and they cannot exist as they prefer without us. It should not be totally surprising then that they can affect our social choices and even our love life.

How could germs influence our sexual choices? Those factors had remained hidden from our appraisal until recently. We simply did not have the technological means to assess it. Now we do and current research has found that the amount of microbial life in our mouths is startling and the transfer between kissing partners is extensive. However, the particular surprise is that although frequent intimate kissing between partners does correspond to the composition of the microbes that are shared between each, there is more afoot. It seems that there is a shared linkage in microbial composition in the mouths of sexual partners that operates regardless of kissing frequency. The implication is that there is a background connection with the microbial realm that might influence our initial choices of sexual partners. For example, the microbiota on the back of the tongue is more similar between kissing partners than unrelated individuals, but that identity does not clearly correlate to any kissing behavior or frequency. Nor does it appear to be due to specifically shared environmental factors. Something extends beyond that. Could it mean that we are attracted to one another on the basis of forces that are unapparent to our typical senses?

There is other evidence to suggest that this the case and that it is based on our immunological status. We depend on that for our survival. So it should not be shocking that our immunological status might affect our choice of mates. We all exist on a planet also inhabited by aggressive microorganisms. How might any organism cope? Our evolutionary path, and that of all other complex organisms includes mechanisms directed towards protecting our offspring as much as possible. This imperative significantly governs how we select mates. As part of this process, we each have a group of genes that is crucial to immunological defenses. Experiments have showed that we are unconsciously attracted to other partners whose immunological background is complementary to our own. In order to best protect our children against an intrusive and agitating microbial realm, we tend to seek to mate with those that differ from ourselves on an immunological basis. Although this may seem odd on first consideration, it actually makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. The combination of immunological capacities of healthy mates that differ confers better protection to the next generation. There are research studies that reinforce this finding. Experiments have demonstrated that sexual partners are attracted to certain body odors. For human odors, microbes matter. However, in a crucial evolutionary twist, that odor attraction is not for similarity but for opposite types. In the aggregate as a species, we seem to search for other sexual partners that are not our match immunologically. What might underlie this instinct? The answer lies within both our own personal genes and our particular microbial complement. On an evolutionary basis, our species is best protected by the mixing of opposing genes and microbes. Successful mating proceeds for many reasons, but there is an important one that has been previously obscure. That additional reason is our critical association with a vast microbial partnership that is crucial to our immunological balance. When contrasting individuals both mix genes and share microbes, the next generation gets a boost.

Even more astoundingly, the influence of the microbial sphere extends well beyond these factors. Research has demonstrated that infection with certain parasites can overtly guide sexual choice. Such an example is a parasite called Toxoplasmosis. Cats serve as an intermediate host but it also frequently infects humans. Surprisingly, this common parasite has been shown to affect human behavior, physiology and even our physical appearance. As strange as it may seem, in carefully controlled experiments, human females perceive infected males as more dominant and more masculine than uninfected males.

What should we make of all this? The next time you gaze lovingly at your favorite other, tip your hat mentally to your hidden microbial partners. In truth, your microbiome might have made you do it.

Dr. Bill Miller has been a physician in academic and private practice for over 30 years. He is the author of The Microcosm Within: Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome. He currently serves as a scientific advisor to OmniBiome Therapeutics, a pioneering company in discovering and developing solutions to problems in human fertility and health through management of the human microbiome. For more information, www.themicrocosmwithin.com.

See also:
The Energies of Love: Harnessing the Invisible Forces of Your Relationship
Evolving the Soul-Centered Relationship

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

December 12, 2018

A soothing sextile between the Sagittarius Sun and Aquarius Moon brightens the work day. Inner ease is promoted. The impact can also feel liberating as these are the two most freedom loving of signs. It’s a good day to attend to a financial matter or…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

December 2018

No Events
No Events

Join us the second Tuesday evening of the month for a Reiki Share in the Usui Reiki system of natural healing. We are a gathering of Reiki practitioners who share experiences, practice...

Cost: Free

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Contact Name: Brad Fanger

More information

Please join us at our monthly meetings, second Wednesday each month September - June in Westboro, MA. A welcoming community working for the greater health and wellbeing of all. Contact...

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman St
#108B
Westborough, MA
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Journaling can be a part of your inner work and is, in fact, on the tree of contemplative practices.  Whether you are a meditator or keep a journal or neither of the above, all are welcome to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waltham Public Library
735 Main Street
Waltham, MA  02451
View map »


Sponsor: Louise Goldstein
Telephone: 617-710-6145
Contact Name: Waltham Public Library
Website »

More information

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

Sponsored by the Canton Spiritualist Church. Held at the Blue Hills, Canton, MA. Psychics, mediums, readings for a fee. Free healings.

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Blue Hills
Canton, MA


Sponsor: Canton Spiritualist Church
Telephone: (617) 469-2568

More information

Discover the power of body tapping and nature based solutions that will help you: More effectively manage and ease chronic pain issues. Clear stuck energy with body tapping. Learn the basic...

Cost: $49

Where:
Clearpoint Center
259 East Street
Stafford Springs, CT  06076
View map »


Sponsor: Clearpoint Center
Telephone: 860-684-3994
Contact Name: Steve Munn
Website »

More information

With Susie Masters We warmly invite you to join us for The Winter Solstice Workshop. Celebrate the shortest day while giving yourself the space to feel and experience the now. During this...

Cost: $45

Where:
State of Grace Yoga and Wellness Center
104 East. Hartford Ave.
Uxbridge, MA  01569
View map »


Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

All are invited to a special barefoot, free style dance and live music event on December 15th from 7:30pm–10pm in Greenfield, Massachusetts. We will be having a special freestyle, barefoot...

Cost: $5-$10

Where:
The Episcopal Church of St. James & Andrew
71 Federal St.
Greenfield, MA  01301
View map »


Sponsor: Dance Spree
Telephone: (413)658-7011 (no texting please)
Contact Name: Jasper Lapienski
Website »

More information

Tired of missing opportunities that could further your life, your education, even your work? Tired of missing threats that continue to hold back your life, your education, even your work? Sit down...

Cost: $40

Where:
Caffe Nero
368 Congress St
Boston, MA  02210
View map »


Contact Name: Soni
Website »

More information

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