Sometimes you want your partner to STFU, but nobody wants to make someone they love sick.
Turns out, ugly spats with your significant other are likelier to cause leaky guts which can lead to disease, according to a recent study done by Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. How? A leaky gut unleashes bacteria into the blood and can drive up disease-causing inflammation.
The study aimed to find the link between bad marriages and poor health, said lead author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser. “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," she said.
Researchers had asked 43 healthy married couples (from ages from 24 to 61 and married at least three years) about their relationships and then encouraged them to discuss and try to resolve a conflict likely to provoke strong disagreement. “Touchy topics included money and in-laws,” said the report. "Hostility is a hallmark of bad marriages — the kind that lead to adverse physiological changes.”
The couples were left alone for their 20-minute talks, and were videotaped to see exactly how they rumble. Researchers then compared blood drawn pre-fight to blood drawn post-fight and found significant changes.
“Men and women who demonstrated more hostile behaviors during the observed discussions had higher levels of one biomarker for leaky gut — LPS-binding protein — than their mellower peers. Evidence of leaky gut was even greater in study participants who had particularly hostile interactions with their spouse and a history of depression or another mood disorder,” said the findings.
"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," Kiecolt-Glaser said.
For existing health conditions, “a poor marriage — that really made things worse," Kiecolt-Glaser said.
The researchers also pointed out that “inflammation increases with age and that the average age in this study was 38, which might mean that the results would be more profound in older people.”
How to fight poor health in your gut? A diet rich in lean protein, good fats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, Kiecolt-Glaser said, adding “probiotics might also be useful.”
Also … try therapy. Or divorce.
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