Lockdown around the world has driven home the importance to our mental and physical wellbeing of being emotionally connected to others, but did you know that being physically connected also improves our health?
It has been known for some time now that physical touch increases our levels of oxytocin, an important hormone that plays a role in our sociability and sense of well being and feeling loved.
Importantly, oxytocin is produced in women's bodies when breastfeeding their babies and allows the uterus to contract back to its original, smaller size. It is also emitted when two lovers make love.
But what we didn't realize was that while oxytocin is being produced by breastfeeding mothers, so is endogenous or internal spermidine, which helps seed infant's nascent gut biomes.
Spermidine is also produced in men in response to physical intimacy with their partner. Arousal stimulates production of spermidine and spermine, which protects DNA in seminal fluid.
According to the ancient Taoists, men who could became aroused but did not lose their 'prescious seed' would be able to improve their cognition and longevity. We now know that this was due to increased spermidine and spermine production, which was then resorbed back into the body and could be used to stimulate autophagy as well as inhibit aging.