Mediterranean diet

a leaky pipe being fixed with several wrenches

Could Marital Problems Lead to Leaky Gut?

Strong emotions can have a negative effect on your body. Add a diet full of high-fat foods to the mix and your gut becomes vulnerable too.

Emotional fights between married couples have been linked to symptoms of leaky gut, according to a report from Ohio State University that appeared in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Leaky gut is a condition created by breakdowns in the intestinal wall that allow undigested food, toxic waste products and other nasties to seep through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream to create a number of different health problems.

“We think every day marital distress, at least for some people, is causing changes in the gut that lead to inflammation and, potentially, illness,” says lead author Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the OSU’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

Forty-three married and healthy couples ranging in age from 24-61 participated in the study that involved talking to researchers about their relationships, then alone with each other for 20 minutes to resolve conflicts that were likely to provoke disagreements.

To give necessary context to this study, blood samples were taken from couples before and after their conversations without a researcher and those talks were filmed for later review.

Not surprisingly, patients who displayed more hostility during their one-on-one talks with their marital partners had greater levels of LPS-binding protein, a biomarker for leaky gut.

Signs of leaky gut was even more pronounced among spouses with histories of emotional problems and depression whose interactions were hostile.

What’s more, researchers identified specific biomarkers in blood samples (LBP and CD14) linked to signs of inflammation. Patients whose blood contained the highest levels of LBP had dramatically higher amounts of the primary inflammatory biomarker, C-reactive protein.

These biomarkers were far more prevalent among those whose medical histories included depression too.

In fact, scientists believe the presence of these inflammatory biomarkers that drive leaky gut may also be responsible for mental health problems, creating a “troubling loop.”

“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,” says study co-author Dr. Michael Bailey.

To reduce the amount of inflammation from leaky gut, Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser suggests eating a more gut-friendly Mediterranean diet along with taking a probiotic.

Fortunately, protecting the health of your gut is so much easier when you take a probiotic that contains multiple species of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

Could a Mediterranean diet help your heart and gut?

Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) is a trouble-making metabolite produced by the liver after your gut bacteria digests animal protein that contributes to heart disease.

You may be familiar with our reporting on TMAO, as a number of researchers have targeted it, most recently using allicin, a sulfur-based compound in garlic, to reduce its chemical footprint and improve cardiovascular health significantly.

The goal: Develop safer ways to treat TMAO without resorting to antibiotics that promote the depletion of good and bad bacteria in the gut.

Previously, scientists had also tried unsuccessfully to stop the process by inhibiting host enzymes that converted trimethylamine (TMA) into TMAO until liver damage was detected.

A second TMAO-related study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic has discovered another way to fight atherosclerosis/heart disease by targeting gut molecules with DMB, a chemical compound contained in foods associated with the Mediterranean Diet.

This chemical is naturally found in grape seed oils, balsamic vinegars and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils, according to the study appearing in Cell.

In testing on mice predisposed to atherosclerosis that were fed a choline-rich diet, DMB cut TMAO levels sharply by limiting the formation of TMA.

Two more important advantages of DMB:

  • Unlike antibiotics, DMB didn’t wipe out gut bacteria and limited the amounts of some microbes linked to higher levels of TMA. This could mean gut bacteria may not develop a resistance to DMB, unlike antibiotics.
  • DMB would work differently than drugs like Lipitor that lower cholesterol, as it would target gut bacteria, not human cells.

Should human trials by successful down the road, researchers believe this could lead to other investigations, and the development of a drug.

“If we replicate our findings in upcoming human studies, this could be a whole new approach to the treatment of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases,” says senior study author Dr. Stanley Hazen, according to a press release.

“In the meantime, our findings suggest that it might not be a bad idea to consume a Mediterranean diet to help stave off heart disease and other health problems.”

Adding a healthy amount of dietary fiber to your diet along with a multi-strain probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, also offers greater protection from cardiovascular disease.

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