Can Stress Put Holes In Your Gut?In my 2 decades coaching people of all ages back to vibrant health, I've noticed a common experience among the vast majority of them (myself included). They've lived for years with relationship stress, either from childhood or with the people they walk with now. And scientists are now finding out why. If you wonder how your state of mind connects with your immune system and overall health, this post is just for you!
To investigate how an unhappy marriage can affect an individual's health, scientists at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recruited 43 healthy couples between 24 to 61 years old who had been married for at least three years.
A new study says that husbands and wives who fight, are more likely to suffer from a leaky gut.
The StudyThe researchers asked couples to discuss touchy subjects likely to spark disagreement, such as money or in-laws, and taped the conversations. They used this footage to analyze verbal and nonverbal modes of conflict, including eye rolls. The team also took blood samples from the couples before and after arguing, and found those who were most hostile toward their spouses had higher levels of LPS-binding protein, a biomarker for a leaky gut.
Leaky gut syndrome, or gut permeability, is characterized by bacteria and undigested food passing from the gastrointestinal tract into the rest of the body.
Other Evidence of the Mind Body ConnectionThe Ohio State University study was small, but previous studies have linked a rocky marriage to slow healing and a spike in risk of conditions linked to inflammation, including heart disease, diabetes and depression. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, lead author of the study, which was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, and director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, explained:
"Marital stress is a particularly potent stress, because your partner is typically your primary support and in a troubled marriage your partner becomes your major source of stress." Read More: 3 Secrets To Understanding Men (and Expanding Your Peace) Dr. Michael Bailey, associate professor of biosciences at Ohio State University and co-author of the study, explained that stress, the sympathetic nervous system and changes to microbes in the gut appear to be linked. "With leaky gut, the structures that are usually really good at keeping the gunk in our gut—the partially digested food, bacteria and other products—degrade and that barrier becomes less effective," he said. In turn, bacteria triggering inflammation in the blood could lead to mental illness in what Bailey described as a troubling loop. And as the participants were relatively young and inflammation worsens with age, older couples could suffer more, the researchers said.
"We think that this everyday marital distress—at least for some people—is causing changes in the gut that lead to inflammation and potentially, illness.