Couples Living Together Share a Lot of Things, Especially the Bacteria on Their Feet

Couples who live together come to share similar communities of bodily bacteria — especially on the feet.

Marriage is all about reciprocity and sharing, for better and for worse. However, some highly significant marital sharing seems to occur without our knowledge. Take, for example, swapping microbiomes like our feet’s bacteria!

A microbiome is an ecosystem comprised of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other tiny organisms living in, on, and around the human body. Each square centimeter of skin provides a home to between 1 million and 1 billion such microorganisms.

Your feet host a shared microbiome with your partner

The feet are the body parts most likely to host a microbiome shared by a couple. Humans shed over one million biological particles each and every hour of every single day.  And it turns out that it’s especially easy to pick up new microbes on the feet – in the shower shared with a partner or walking barefoot around the home.

Most of the organisms found in skin ecosystems are beneficial. They create barriers that protect our bodies from disease, train our immune systems, and interface with the environments in which we live.

The microbiomes of 10 couples were studied with surprising results

In a recent study of shared biologic organisms published in the Journal of the American Society for Microbiology, researchers examined microbiomes found on the skin of 10 sexually active and cohabitating heterosexual couples. After assessing 330 skin swabs collected from 17 parts of the body of each participant, the researchers learned that each person significantly influenced the microbial communities of their partner’s skin.

The most surprising result of the study was the researchers’ ability to identify microbial data and match the correct couples with an amazing 86 percent accuracy.

What types of information can experts tell about you from your microbiome? Probably more than you think. Take the quiz to see.

Read the full article at: www.nytimes.com

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