LeBron James tries to stick with the advice that he got from his friend Warren Buffet: "Always follow your gut. When you have that gut feeling, you have to go with it, don't go back on it."
Researchers from the University of Oxford suggest that LeBron's gut instincts — and his gut microbiome — can benefit from Buffet's friendship. These researchers found that friendships often improve the healthy balance of bacteria and other microbes that live in the intestinal tract, either through stress reduction or by social sharing of microbes with those near and dear.
At least that's how it works for some primates. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, found that in monkeys friendships improve gut health — and improved gut health boosts the capacity for friendships.
The benefits are far-reaching. A healthier gut improves immune strength and emotional well-being (the microbes directly influence brain function), and helps you dodge Type 2 diabetes and dementia.
But the researchers fear that humans' increasingly virtual interactions are robbing us of our chance to have friendships make us healthier and happier. They suggest that when we humans (we are primates) substitute online interactions for real-life ones; we're missing out on the microbial support that physical interaction with friends provides.
Hang out with friends. If you're feeling disconnected, volunteer for in-person charitable activities; join a walking club.
When you get that gut feeling that you've really connected with another person, your guts, immune, and cardiovascular systems, even your brain, will thank you.