Don't let loneliness gut-punch you
Guru Deepak Chopra once said: "... when you say, 'I have a gut feeling'... you're not speaking metaphorically. You're speaking literally." Well, a study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry has proof. Researchers explored the connection between loneliness and biology and found that diversity -- or lack of diversity -- in your gut microbiome influences and is influenced by feeling lonely.
The researchers compared fecal samples from volunteers ages 28 to 97 with their self-reported measures of loneliness, social support and social engagement. It turned out people who are lonely are most likely to have an unstable gut biome. That reduces their resistance and resilience to stress-related disruptions and disease. Stress-related disruptions and disease can lead to bodily changes that evoke feelings of isolation. The feedback loop between loneliness and gut disruption is complete.
Whichever comes first -- lack of gut biome diversity or loneliness -- they're intertwined through the "gut-brain axis." This network links your gastrointestinal system to emotional and cognitive centers of the brain, and they talk to each other through neural activity, hormones and the immune system.
So if you want to feel less lonely, cultivate a diverse gut biome by eating a diet full of pre- and probiotics. Also, stop eating gut-damaging ultra-processed foods, red meats and added sugars, and consider taking a daily probiotic -- we like Digestive Advantage, Culturelle and TruBiotics. Conversely, if you want your gut to feel better, reach out to friends and family and volunteer to help others. Defeating loneliness (and the physiological changes that brings) may nurture a healthier gut biome.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.(c) 2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.