Is Stress Making You Sick?

A study published in early April 2012, revealed that the common cold is not caused to an impenetrable virus, but it is induced by an inflammatory response to the infection. Lead author of the study, Sheldon Cohen, told ABC News, “You want to produce enough of inflammation to fight off the infection, but not so much that you experience cold symptoms.”

Stress can unravel proper function of the body, especially chronic stress, which leads to the over production of cortisol by the adrenal glands. Excess cortisol in your system reduces immune function, leaving the inflammation response lingering – long after your cold has gone.

There has always been evidence that stress leads to physical illness, but this study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirms many prior theories.

Experts believe these findings will implicate stress as a factor in a number of other diseases and provides a new approach to treating illness and disease.

In the meantime, you can combat stress with these 5 expert tips:

  • Smile!  People who smile are perceived to be, on average, two years younger than those who do not. According to a study published in the medical journal, Psychology and Aging.
  • Toss back a nip. A study out of Harvard found that middle-aged women who, on average, consumed one alcoholic beverage daily improved their odds of aging gracefully (stress equals wrinkles!) – without developing any mental or physical limitations or chronic diseases. The connection may be linked to the fact that moderate alcohol consumption reduces inflammation, raises HDL (good) cholesterol levels and improves insulin function.
  • Get moving. Your memory is often the first thing to go when it comes to aging, but the results of a 13-year study, funded by the Institute of Aging, uncovered evidence that you can defy those odds: walking an average of 6 miles per day reduced cognitive decline in subjects by as much as 50 percent. In the past, studies have found that daily aerobic activity of 30 minutes or more improves memory and cognitive function in older adults.
  • Live in the moment. Indulging in the tastes, sights and sounds going on around you can change your perspective.  Change your habits and discover joy in life’s little moments. If you are eating, turn off the TV and focus on the taste and texture of your food – notice how it feels as it crosses your lips or how the flavors dance on your taste buds. If you are outside, close your eyes – hear the wind whistle and birds sing – savor every moment, even if it only lasts a minute.
  • Stifle cravings. Your diet impacts how you feel, how you look and the state of your health – inside and out.  For people under stress, with a non-stop schedule, good nutrition is a challenge. Cravings dictate your dining choices, especially if you are secreting excess cortisol, which intensifies cravings for fat and sugar. One way to curb cravings is to rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 not hungry at all to 10 famished.) Over time you will begin to recognize when you are truly hungry versus simply pacifying stress-driven emotions or cravings.
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2 comments

  1. This was very good and I think most of the suggestions are workable…..except maybe the 6 miles of walking…….2 sounds good!!

    1. Every little bit counts! 2 miles or 6 miles is an effort toward good health! 🙂

      ~Dani

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