Are you lonely? If yes, maybe your gut has something to do with it. Not your instincts, your actual digestive system. According to a new study, how healthy your gut is could be one of the factors that cause loneliness and wisdom.
How wisdom relates to loneliness
Study authors first related wisdom to loneliness. Wisdom is associated with certain regions of the brain that trigger happiness and positive traits. Lonely people lack these positive traits and consequently lack high levels of wisdom.
The gut in human beings contains countless microbes. Fungi, bacteria, and sometimes even viruses all live in delicate balance within the human digestive tract. Scientists also acknowledge a gut-brain axis. This very complicated network associates human emotions with intestinal functions.
Hormones, neural activity, and the immune system work to regulate the relationship between the brain and the gut. However, when the gut is unbalanced, it can cause mood changes and even low thinking power.
According to previous studies, the gut can influence mental health conditions like Bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. Similar studies have also linked having a healthy gut to having good social skills.
The new study was conducted by researchers from UC-Scan San Diego on 187 participants between the ages of 28 and 97. The participants filled in a report on loneliness, compassion, wisdom, social engagement, and social support.
The participants also provided fecal samples, which were analyzed to determine their gut microbiota’s state. The researcher first investigated for each participant’s alpha-diversity (richness of microbial species) and then the whole group’s bet- diversity ( difference between the participants’ alpha-diversity)
Uncertainty on what causes what
The study found that participants with higher levels of wisdom and lower loneliness levels who also had more social support and engagement had much higher alpha-diversity. This is according to lead author Dr. Tanya T. Nguyen.
While the study can link poor gut health with loneliness, it is unclear which causes the other. It is, however, possible that loneliness can weaken the gut’s ability to resist stress-related symptoms, causing a link between mental health issues and an unhealthy gut.