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Stress at work or at home can make you more vulnerable to infections and illness. But a research review at the Ohio State University College of Medicine points the way to defusing the damaging effects of stress and staying healthy, even when you feel surrounded by chaos.
Studies show that stress can lead to inflammation, which is normally the body’s method for dealing with infectious pathogens. It also can help the body heal when it releases known as proinflammatory cytokines (e.g., interleukin-6).
But too much inflammation damages the body and may increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis and type 2 diabetes.
If you’re angry or depressed, your body may increase its production of proinflammatory cytokines. For instance, a recent analysis shows that when you take care of a spouse with dementia (and face continual stress), you endure a four times larger annual rate of increase in serum interleukin-6 levels compared to people without that kind of responsibility.
The way to offset some of this stress, according to Ohio State review, is to make your diet anti-inflammatory while eliminating toxins from your home and environment:
- Consume foods higher in omega-3 fatty acids like fish and walnuts. These fats can help improve your mood and soothe your immune system.
- Don’t use insect spray in your home. These toxins can increase your risk of allergies, asthma and viral infections.
- Perform moderate exercise. Comforting walks or other activity can help regulate your immune system and improve your emotional outlook.