Not only have previous studies linked frequent social interaction to improvements in heart health, mood and overall quality of life, but scientists now offer yet another reason to tap into your extroverted side: it’s good for your gut.
After studying a group of chimpanzees living in Tanzania, researchers from Duke University discovered that periods of heightened social activity were associated with greater gut diversity, likely because close contact with other members of their species encouraged the spread of bacteria among the chimps. But why is that so important?
The findings, published in the journal Science Advances, point out that prior research has linked a more diverse microbiome to better overall health, primarily because greater diversity means more probiotic bacteria in the gut—and probiotics are the good guys that work to keep us healthy.* In addition to their role in supporting digestive health, probiotics are known to support immune health.*
Study authors plan to expand their research and investigate whether or not promoting gut diversity may help protect against the development of certain diseases, which in turn may help to ensure the health of future generations of chimpanzees. They also hope to explore whether or not the same outcomes will be seen in humans.