Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What We Don’t Know Can Kill Us

Research on our immune system is continuing to help us better understand ourselves. Recently, researchers have discovered that when stress negatively affects our immune system, it can have disastrous results on the actual cells in our body. These problems are not to be taken lightly. Allergies, arthritis, some types of cancer, diabetes and heart attacks are on this daunting list.

One researcher discovered that all these dire results are the result of one body event. Stress causes chronic inflamation. If this inflammation continues, the body’s alarm bells keep us on Red Alert. Although the inflammation is meant to help our body fight garden variety substances in nature that can kick off allergies, there is a high price to pay. While our body is fighting off allergies, it is also less able to deal with more serious problems such as actively dealing with infections and wounds.

This problem is not hidden or rare in our population. Studies have found that about forty percent of children and thirty percent of adults suffer from allergies. The scary part is that this can be worsened by only a one-time social situation that is stressful. Many people in our society must cope with an anxiety disorder on a daily basis. Unfortunately, they are more likely to have asthma and any additional stress can make it worse.

As stress continues over long periods of time, the immune system can age faster than normal. That’s why the list at the beginning of this article is so frightening. The more you stress yourself, the more sooner you may have to deal with serious illness.

Some studies found that ongoing stress – such as being a long-term caregiver for a loved one – can make a 55-year old have the immune system of a 90-year old. As we get older it is harder to heal from wounds and other daily ailments. We may also be less likely to be helped by vaccinations. Chronic stress can make these problems appear early than usual.

Sometimes, stress need not be chronic to affect our body’s immune systems respond. A study in 2008 found that even a small fight between married couples affected the immune system. The more the couples continued the argument by being nasty to one another, the more slowly there body healed from wounds. It seems the inner wounds affect the outer wounds.

Reducing your stress on a daily basis is not only a good idea but one that contributes to your physical health. You can do this by being aware of your breathing during the day and if necessary practice your Natural Breathing. To deal with bigger stressors, allow yourself time to release muscle tension and calm your mind. You can find instructions for these two skills at the blog article entitled Muscle Relaxation.

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