Love is in the air.
Thanks in no small part to Valentine’s Day, February is known as the month of love and romance. And let’s be honest, none of us can deny the magic of a passionate kiss.
As if any of us really needed a reason or motivation, it turns out that kissing may be good for our health in more ways than one.
The Euphoria of Kissing
We all know that kissing makes us feels good. But how and why? Our lips have millions of nerve endings, and when we kiss, the sensitivity of our lips causes the brain to go into overdrive.
When we kiss, the "pleasure centres" in our brain are activated, and the so-called "feel good" chemicals dopamine and serotonin, along with the "love hormone" oxytocin, are released.
As Albert Einstein once said, “Any man that can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”
What’s more, kissing has also been shown to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
French Kiss to Boost Your Immunity
If those “feel good” sensations weren’t enough to encourage you to smooch more often, a study from the Netherlands has found that French kissing may also help support our immune system.
So, what’s in a kiss, you ask? Well, it turns out that about 80 million bacteria. A 2014 study led by Dutch microbiologist Remco Kort at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research in Amsterdam investigated the effects of intimate kissing on the oral microbiota of 21 couples aged between 17 and 45.
The results found that the probiotic Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria were identified in most kisses corresponding to an average total bacterial transfer of 80 million bacteria per intimate kiss of 10 seconds. The study found that couples who intimately kiss at least nine times a day shared the same microbiota in their saliva.
“When we interact with each other, for example, when we talk to others or when we kiss one another, we exchange microbes, and this is fundamentally good because we are made by these microbes, and most of them are not harmful to us,” shares Gianfranco Grompone, Chief Scientist Officer at BioGaia.
“The more you sample microbes, the better your immune system is prepared to identify which ones are good and which ones we need to kill. Kissing is just one way to do this. So, I think we need to kiss more because these exchanges and interactions are so important, especially now that we are coming out of a pandemic, when we were all isolated and where these microbial interactions weren’t happening.”
Thank your Bacteria for Your Love Life
All the microorganisms in your body, including bacteria, yeast, fungi, viruses and parasites, make up your microbiota. Approximately 90-95% of these microorganisms can be found in the gut.
The gut flora, or microbiota, consists of trillions of bacteria belonging to thousands of different species. In fact, human cells make up only 43% of the body's total cell count. The rest are microorganisms. In other words, you are more microbe than you are human.
Among its many benefits, our microbiota helps fight off other harmful bacteria, helps digest food and absorb nutrients, and supports the immune system. It turns out it may also play a role in our love life.
Everyone has their own unique scent, and a person’s bacteria contribute to that scent. Studies have shown that when it comes to whom you're attracted to, you are more likely drawn to the person’s scent than anything else. In other words, whom we're attracted to may, in fact, be based on that person's microbes.
Lifestyle, environment, diet and probiotic supplements with live bacteria can alter your microbiome. So, if you’re looking to change your love life, perhaps start by changing your microbiome!