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Love the ones you’re with… and their microbes ;)

So – you already know that you can catch nasty contagious bugs like colds, impetigo and whooping cough from friends and loved ones. But did you know you can also share healthy bacteria with the people around you?

Social interactions like shaking hands, hugging and kissing may actually benefit your microbiome. Scientists speculate that this may be part of the reason why we seek out close contact with others.1https://www.bluezones.com/2020/01/does-your-microbiome-shape-your-friendships/

People who share homes also share their microbial communities, probably because of skin shedding and hand and foot contamination. When families moved, their microbiological “aura” followed. If one person left the home even for a few days, their contribution to the microbiome diminished.2https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.1254529

This means that there’s a “pan-microbiome”— a meta-community of microbe species that spans a group of hosts, like all the people that live in one household. If you think of your microbiome as your private music playlist, then pan-microbiome is like the full iTunes store – and every handshake is an act of file-sharing.

Got a pet at home? That’s great news for your microbiome! People who share their house with a pet dog have increased microbial diversity.3https://elifesciences.org/articles/458 Dogs have greater skin microbial diversity than humans, and when dogs shed these microbes they become part of our own microbiome.4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3628085/

So keep this in mind next time you’re hoovering up after your pets or loved ones – their mess is contributing to your gut health! ; )

References

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