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No Alcohol. No Sugar. Non-Intoxicating.

Baboons ... and How Mushrooms Improve Social Interactions

The catch phrase is posted all over the internet, but are you really the sum of the five people you spend the most time with?

Well, according to a group of female baboons in Kenya, the answer is yes. And perhaps more literally than you may have ever imagined.

Baboons, gut health, and friendship

Back in 2016, researchers collected samples from said baboons to study the relationship between social networks and microbial communities in primates, including humans. As it turns out, they found our social networks not only have a huge impact on our health and survival, but they actually help determine the variety of healthy microorganisms living in our guts. Yes, really. Put simply, you’re sharing microbes with your closest compadres.

How’s that for a relationship gut check?

If I’m going to be subconsciously swapping microorganisms with my friends, it only makes sense to put some serious intentionality in

to who those people are — and the quality of the relationships in my innermost circle, too. 

Making intentional connections

True friendships — human or otherwise — take thought and effort. Here are three ways I go out of my way to cultivate real, intentional connections with my own microbial mates:

Practice authentic vulnerability. This isn’t the canned stuff. In my experience, a rehearsed “vulnerable” story just doesn’t resonate with the kind of people I want to connect with — smart people see right through it. Finding a balance between oversharing and authentic sharing is also essential; the former actually decreases connection (using vulnerability vs. being vulnerable, anyone?), while the latter increases it. 

Be thoughtful. This one might feel obvious, but it’s all-too easy to get stuck in our own silos. I know how much it means to me when a friend remembers I tried a new yoga class and thinks to ask about it later — or even drops soup on my doorstep when I’m sick or swings by with my favorite tacos when I’m busy unpacking in a new place. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, but going out of our way to make those kinds of small and thoughtful acts for the people we want to be closest to is a special kind of relationship gold.

Drink mushrooms. While alcohol may lower our inhibitions just enough to bond over some difficult-to-share truths, we’ve found that connections made through booze typically don’t translate back to alcohol-free times — and science supports this, too. Consuming a mushroom like lion’s mane may ease stress and simultaneously improve cognitive function. This makes conversation a bit more easeful and a lot more interesting. Unlike alcohol, lion’s mane delivers this boost without impacting impulse control or emotional regulation, sparing ourselves from the inevitable overshares

The next time you’re hanging out with your crew, sharing your authentic presence, some thoughtful questions, and, hey, some microbes, too — make sure you have your fridge stocked with your favorite Little Saints plant magic mocktails. Formulated for optimum heart opening and true connection, everyone will feel all the ease of a fun evening with a drink in hand, minus the hangover and whacked out brain chemicals. As for that gut check? The sugar-free formula will have your microbiome singing our praises too.

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