Andy’s Quick Hits (9): The Strange Connection between Wisdom, Loneliness, and your Gut
Multiple studies have found that those who are wiser (yes, you can measure this) are less likely to feel lonely and conversely those who feel lonely are less likely to be wise. There could be many reasons for this and it indeed fits our clichéd fairytale wise man sitting alone in a cave and asking the stray traveler wise questions.
But a recent study has taken this connection a bit further by researching the influence of the gut microbiome. And the fascinating result is that wisdom and loneliness appear to influence, or be influenced by, microbial diversity in the gut.
“We found that lower levels of loneliness and higher levels of wisdom, compassion, social support and engagement were associated with greater phylogenetic richness and diversity of the gut microbiome,” Tanya T. Nguyen
The two-way system between gut and brain has become a hot topic in the neuro and health sciences in recent years with multiple connections being found with the so-called gut-brain axis. This communication system works by influencing hormonal responses, stress responses, but also plasticity in the brain, and immune responses. This can lead to multiple behavioural responses and influence mental health.
Whether larger microbial diversity will make you wiser is not clear but there do seem to be large benefits (and yes this is getting lots of interest, research and investment). You probably want to know how to increase your microbial diversity — I have reviewed this in leading brains Review (high fiber is key). But we do know that fast food seems to have a negative impact on your microbiome. Which is probably why wise people don’t eat fast food!
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Andy is author of leading brains Review a monthly e-magazine on all things the brain, behaviour, and business