We all know diet and exercise are keys to a healthy life. Add marital bliss to the list.
A study by researchers at The Ohio State University found that married couples who have nasty arguments appear more likely to suffer from leaky guts. This is a condition where bacteria and partially digested food can pass from the intestines into the bloodstream.
Leaky gut can lead to a host of medical and mental health problems, often related to the inflammation it triggers. Problems include heart disease, diabetes and depression.
Researchers recruited 43 healthy married couple between the ages of 24 and 61 for the unenviable task of trying to resolve a conflict that might provoke a heated exchange. Such conflicts included money and the in-laws.
Participants’ blood was drawn before and after these sessions, looking for biomarkers indicative of leaky gut and inflammation. The greater the level of hostility, the study found, the greater the evidence of this condition. These effects were more significant for those with a history of depression.
It’s known from previous research that stress can cause physical problems, from higher blood pressure and heart disease to obesity and diabetes. Previous research has even shown a correlation between marital discord and the speed of wound healing.
Since inflammation increases with age, the researchers said it is possible the leaky-gut effect might be more pronounced with older couples.
Scientists point out that diet can help minimize gut-related inflammation. Such a diet includes higher amounts of lean proteins, vegetables and whole grains. Probiotics also might help.
Another good strategy might include avoiding arguing altogether.