Relationships and Your Immune System: The Key to Lasting Health
Love changes everything! Once you’ve found that special someone, colors seem brighter, foods taste more intense, and even those overplayed songs on the radio that used to make you groan suddenly take on a deeper meaning.
But love’s pleasant effects don’t end there. A loving, happy relationship also brings beneficial changes to your immune system, and when this happens, positive physical and mental changes result that can make it easier to attract and stay with a wonderful partner and achieve lifelong health and vitality.
Immunity: It’s a Gut Feeling
Within and on the surfaces of your body exists an active community of trillions of bacteria, known collectively as the microbiome. Much of your microbiome lives in your digestive tract, where about 80% of your immune system is also located.
Having a microbiome is a very good thing because ideally, about 85% of this community is comprised of helpful bacteria called probiotics that work with your cells and immune system to keep you healthy, while crowding out harmful bacteria so they don’t have enough room to multiply.
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
It’s no coincidence that warm and caring relationships make us feel so terrific; romance is good for us! Loving experiences actually impact your microbiome and immune system in surprising and wonderful ways:
Reduced Stress Supports Immune Function
Knowing you’re not alone in the world anymore and that there’s “someone in your corner” can be profoundly stress reducing. And feeling more relaxed supports your microbiome by making it harder for bacteria that could harm friendly flora to enter your gut.1
Good Feelings Lead to Feeling Good Physically
Positive emotions (like the joy and optimism associated with falling and staying in love) strengthen your immune response, so when you meet the right person, you may find yourself feeling under the weather less often than you used to.2
Getting Close Enriches Your Microbiome
Introducing your gut to lots of friendly probiotic strains is one of the best things you can do for your immune system, and one of the most pleasurable ways to accomplish this is through loving contact. When you and your loved one share a passionate kiss, you’re also gifting each other with lots of friendly flora. This microbial exchange is most effective in couples that kiss often, so it’s a great idea to enjoy as many kisses as you can!3
Even more casual contact, like holding hands or hugging, can introduce new probiotic strains to your microbiome.4 In other words, you’re likely collecting more treasures than just seashells when you take a romantic walk on the beach hand and hand with your significant other.
Looking for Love? Start at a Gut Level!
Love may be a matter of the heart, but caring for your gut can be a factor in attracting and maintaining a relationship with the partner of your dreams by helping you look and feel your best. A balanced gut can help you maintain:
• A Loveable Disposition: Since beneficial microbes work with the brain to increase “happy” neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA, and dopamine while reducing the stress hormone cortisol, a balanced gut can help make really nice to be around. Studies indicate that not only can friendly flora help make you less emotionally reactive, they can also improve mood and increase levels of oxytocin (the cuddling hormone). 5, 6
• Your Best Looking Self: When you feel better, you look better. The composition of your microbiome can be a strong factor in healthy weight management.7 And, increasing the numbers of friendly flora in your gut may even help you keep your body beach ready. Research conducted on mice found that supplementing with Lactobacillus Plantarum resulted in increased muscle mass—this effect may also apply to humans.8
• Glowing Skin: Research published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition uncovered a link between too many undesirable bacteria in the gut and a less than optimal complexion.9 Another study in the Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology suggested that a healthy microbiome may even help you maintain a youthful appearance! Subjects between the ages of 41 and 59 taking Lactobacillus Plantarum experienced reduction in the depth of their wrinkles, increased skin hydration, and improved skin gloss and elasticity.10
• Kissable Breath: The makeup of your oral microbiome helps determine whether your breath smells sweet or makes you feel self conscious about getting too close to anyone. Probiotic strains that reside in the mouth can discourage the growth of certain bacteria that contribute to bad breath.11
Supplementing with a high-quality probiotic like PRO-15 helps to support the kind of glowing gut health that puts you in the perfect position to establish and maintain beautiful relationships.
The relationship between love and the immune system is truly cyclical; love benefits your microbiome, and a balanced gut can in turn help you look and feel great, so you’re bound to attract and nurture healthy relationships.
If you haven’t yet found the love of your life, don’t get discouraged. Developing love and appreciation for the unique individual you are—as well as for your amazing friends, family, and pets—can also cultivate gut health in all the ways that draw more satisfying relationships into your life. It comes down to this: the more you love, the better you feel and the better you feel, the more love you attract. And around and around it goes!
1. Dinan, T. G., & Cryan, J. F. (2012). Regulation of the stress response by the gut microbiota: Implications for psychoneuroendocrinology. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37(9), 1369-1378.
2. Cohen, S., Doyle, W. J., Turner, R. B., Alper, C. M., & Skoner, D. P. Emotional style and susceptibility to the common cold. Psychosomatic Medicine, 4, 652–657.
3. Kort, R., Caspers, M., van de Graaf, A., van Egmond, W., Keijser, B., & Roeselers, G. (2014). Shaping the oral microbiota through intimate kissing. Microbiome, 41.
4. Tung, J., Barreiro, L. B., Burns, M. B., Grenier, J. C., Lynch, J., Grieneisen, L. E., Altmann, J., Alberts, S. C., Blekhman, R., & Archie, E. A. (2015). Social networks predict gut microbiome composition in wild baboons. eLife.
5. Tillisch, K., Labus, J., Kilpatrick, L., Jiang, Z., Stains, J., Ebrat, B., . . . Mayer, E. A. (2013). Consumption of Fermented Milk Product With Probiotic Modulates Brain Activity. Gastroenterology, 144(7).
6. Poutahidis, T., Kearney, S. M., Levkovich, T., Qi, P., Varian, B. J., Lakritz, J. R., . . . Erdman, S. E. (2013). Microbial Symbionts Accelerate Wound Healing via the Neuropeptide Hormone Oxytocin. PLoS ONE, 8(10).
7. Zhang, Q., Wu, Y., & Fei, X. (2016). Effect of probiotics on body weight and body-mass index: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 67(5), 571-580.
8. Chen, Y. M., Wei, L., Chiu, Y. S., Hsu, Y. J., Tsai, T. Y., Wang, M. F., & Huang, C. C. (2016). Lactobacillus plantarum TWK10 Supplementation Improves Exercise Performance and Increases Muscle Mass in Mice. Nutrients, 4, 205.
9. Bowe, W. P., & Logan, A. C. (2011). Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis - back to the future? Gut Pathogens, 3(1).
10. Lee, D. E., Huh, C. S., Ra, J., Choi, I. D., Jeong, J. W., Kim, S. H., Ryu, J. H., Seo, Y. K., Koh, J. S., Lee, J. H., Sim, J. H., & Ahn, Y. T. (2015). Clinical Evidence of Effects of Lactobacillus plantarum HY7714 on Skin Aging: A Randomized, Double Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, 12, 2160–2168.
11. Burton, J., Chilcott, C., Moore, C., Speiser, G., & Tagg, J. (2006). A preliminary study of the effect of probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 on oral malodour parameters. J Appl Microbiol Journal of Applied Microbiology, 100(4), 754-764.
Roberta Pescow is a writer at Hyperbiotics and proud mom of two amazing and unique young men. Natural wellness is a subject she’s passionate about, so she loves sharing information that helps others discover all the ways probiotics support glowing health and well-being. To learn more about how a healthy microbiome can enrich your life, subscribe to our newsletter.