Friends are known in intestinal bacteria. Scientists discover what makes us healthier
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Research shows that really good friendships make our gut microbiome healthier healthy.
It has long been known that social connections play an important role in the health and social well-being of animals, including humans and other primates. However, more and more evidence has recently emerged that the gut microbiome plays a key role in our physical and mental health, and bacteria can be transmitted socially, for example, through touch, writes PHYS.org.
In a new study led by a researcher in the Department of Experimental Psychology and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, Katherine Johnson and colleagues focused on studying how friendship affects the primate gut microbiome.
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During the study, scientists found that more sociable rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) have more beneficial intestinal bacteria and less potentially dangerous – pathogenic bacteria.
The scientists focused on studying one social group of 38 rhesus monkeys – 22 males and 16 females aged 6 to 20 years – living on the island of Cayo Santiago off the east coast of Puerto Rico. During the year of observations, scientists collected more than fifty uncontaminated stool samples from this group.
The researchers measured a measure of social bonding based on the time the rhesus monkey spent grooming themselves or someone in the group, as well as the number of her or his caregivers. According to study co-author Carly Watson of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, macaques are very social animals, and they use grooming as a way to make and maintain friendships. This is why scientists have used grooming as an indicator of social interactions.
In the study, the researchers examined DNA sequence data from stool samples, and then analyzed the composition and diversity of the primate gut biome and compared it to social bonding. The results of the study showed that more sociable monkeys have more “good” and fewer “bad” microbes. For example, less sociable monkeys were more likely to have Streptococcus bacteria, which in humans can cause diseases such as strep throat or pneumonia.
Scientists have tried to understand the cause and effect of this phenomenon. The researchers believe that the link between social behavior and abundance of “good” microbes may be the result of social transmission of microbes, in the case of rhesus monkeys, during grooming. The team also suggests that lack of communication may be causing more stress in primates, which in turn affects the abundance of “bad” microbes. a world where people increasingly prefer virtual communication to live. Researchers believe that it is important to understand that during live communication we develop not only in the social world, but also in the microbial one.