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How do our emotions affect our immune response?

The Kashmir Monitor

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Many studies have shown that chronic exposure to stress, anxiety, and negative moods generally can affect physical health to a large extent.

As Medical News Today reported only last year, researchers have found that chronic stress has a negative impact on memory, medicalnewstoday.com wrote.

Also, feelings of distress can raise the risk of cardiovascular events, such as stroke.

 

Now, a study conducted by specialists from Pennsylvania State University in State College has found that negative moods may change the way in which the immune response functions, and they are associated with an increased risk of exacerbated inflammation.

The results of the research — which was led by Jennifer Graham-Engeland, an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University — appear in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Negative moods and inflammation

The scientists collected the data for the study via a two-tiered approach. They used questionnaires that asked participants to record their feelings over time and in the moment. These assessments took place over two weeks and allowed the team to map out the participants’ emotional profiles.

The scientists also assessed the immune response of the volunteers by collecting blood samples from them and looking for markers of inflammation.

How do anxiety and depression affect physical health?

Recent research suggests that anxiety and depression are akin to smoking when it comes to their ill effects on health.

Inflammation occurs naturally, as part of the immune response, when the body reacts to infections or wounds. However, high levels of inflammation are associated with poor health and a range of chronic conditions, such as arthritis.

Graham-Engeland and team noticed that individuals who experienced negative moods several times per day for extended periods of time tended to have higher levels of inflammation biomarkers in their blood.

The scientists also note that if they collected blood samples from participants soon after they had experienced a negative emotion such as sadness or anger, inflammation biomarkers were all the more present in the blood.

However, experiencing positive moods — even for a short while before the collection of a blood sample — was associated with lower inflammation levels. However, this was only true for male participants in this study, the investigators specify.

‘Affect is modifiable’

The scientists are confident that their study added crucial evidence regarding the impact of negative affect on health — especially since their participants belonged to diverse ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Nevertheless, they caution that to confirm these findings, they will need to replicate them in further studies. They point out that the recent research was the first to explore the link between both momentary and long-term mood reports and measures of inflammation.

“We hope that this research will prompt investigators to include momentary measures of stress and affect in research examining inflammation, to replicate the current findings and help characterize the mechanisms underlying associations between affect and inflammation,” explained Graham-Engeland.

In the future, they hope that this and similar studies may allow specialists to come up with better strategies to improve mood and thus protect aspects of physical health.

“Because affect is modifiable, we are excited about these findings and hope that they will spur additional research to understand the connection between affect and inflammation, which in turn may promote novel psychosocial interventions that promote health broadly and help break a cycle that can lead to chronic inflammation, disability, and disease.”


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Health

The Perfect Guide To Take Care Of Your Arthritic Knee

The Kashmir Monitor

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A certain nip in the air, frequent urge for a steaming cup of tea and an endearing love for sleeping a little longer inside the snuggly quilt is back. The season of blankets, warmers and soups is here! While it brings with itself festive spirit and joy, it is dreaded by the elderly and arthritis patients for it increases their difficulty. With a dip in the mercury, many patients experience increased knee pain, stiffness and unease due to restricted bodily circulations and elasticity of soft tissues caused by atmospheric pressure. Often mistaken as age-related wear and tear or seasonal change, it could be potential signs of arthritis inflammation of the joints and seek medical intervention

Timely clinical advice and necessary precautions can go a long way in managing this pain that aggravates with the onset of winter. It can be addressed by making certain lifestyle changes.

“People tend to become lazy in winters. This can impact the knees and increase the level of pain in cases where people are already undergoing arthritis treatment.A regular 30-minute workout can help lubricate the joints and stimulate blood circulation in the body,” stressed Dr. Dhananjay Gupta, Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.

 

“Staying active is the key to strengthen the muscles supporting the joint, thereby helping in improved joint function. Along with exercises, staying hydrated can control wear and tear of joints,” he added.

For those suffering from chronic knee pain or knee arthritis, the cold can be worse for the joints. But, if the pain is acute and knee arthritis is in the chronic or degenerative stage, one can consider Total Knee Replacement (TKR) therapy.

Sharing his take on the effectiveness of the therapy, Dr.Gupta shared, “When all the alternate treatments such as medications, arthroscopic interventions fail to provide relief to the patients, a TKR therapy is advised. It is the last option for treating severely impaired knees and is one of the safest orthopedic procedures.By replacing a diseased knee cap with a sturdy implant, it not only helps relieve pain, restores knee function but also improves the individual’s quality of life significantly. With a strict physiotherapy routine, a patient can be completely mobile within 6 weeks of the procedure.”

Take precautionary measures. Sometimes, patients who have sought clinical advice or had a knee surgery in the past, experience pain during winters. A visit to the doctor will help you understand the symptoms better. The medical expert will analyse your medical profile and prescribe precautions accordingly- workouts, physiotherapy, proper diet, supplements etc. to strengthen bones during winters.An active lifestyle can keep joint pain away, especially for arthritis patients. Don’t let the cold wave outdoor deter you from exercise. Push yourself to take small walk breaks at work or while lounging around at home to keep your weight under control.There is nothing that heals the joints like Vitamin D does. Get as much sun as possible to fuel aching joints. And regulate your diet with nutritious and vitamin rich foods such as orange, spinach, broccoli, dairy products and dry fruits.A knee joint takes maximum stress than any other joint, so instead of wearing heavy sweaters and cardigans that can add up to your body weight chose layering of light yet warm clothes.Joint movement improves blood circulation to its peripheral areas leading to reduced stiffness. So, move out of your blankets to stretch and move around a little.

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Health

Eat more dietary fibre to lower risk of non-communicable diseases

The Kashmir Monitor

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Here’s another reason why you should increase your consumption of dietary fibre!

According to a recent study, high intake of dietary fibre and whole grains is linked to reduced risk of non-communicable diseases as compared to people who eat lesser amounts.

Fibre rich fruits include bananas, oranges, apples, mangoes, strawberries, raspberries, while beans, legumes or darker coloured vegetables too have high-fibre content.

 

Furthermore, whole grain breads or nuts like almonds, pistachios or pumpkin and sunflower seeds too have a high-fibre content in them.

The findings appear in the journal The Lancet.

Observational studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years reveal the health benefits of eating at least 25g to 29g or more of dietary fibre a day, according to a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

The results suggest a 15-30 per cent decrease in all-cause and cardiovascular related mortality when comparing people who eat the highest amount of fibre to those who eat the least. Eating fibre-rich foods also reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer by 16-24 per cent.

In addition, a meta-analysis of clinical trials suggested that increasing fibre intakes was associated with lower bodyweight and cholesterol, compared with lower intakes.

The study was commissioned by the World Health Organisation to inform the development of new recommendations for optimal daily fibre intake and to determine which types of carbohydrate provide the best protection against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and weight gain.

Speaking about it, Professor Jim Mann, corresponding author at the University of Otago, New Zealand said, “Our findings provide convincing evidence for nutrition guidelines to focus on increasing dietary fibre and on replacing refined grains with whole grains. This reduces incidence risk and mortality from a broad range of important diseases.”

The study also found that diets with a low glycaemic index and low glycaemic load provided limited support for protection against type 2 diabetes and stroke only.
Foods with a low glycaemic index or low glycaemic load may also contain added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. This may account for the links to health being less clear.

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Health

Researchers study patterns of back pain

The Kashmir Monitor

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Researchers have examined the patterns of back pain over time and patient characteristics in relation to the disability.

In addition, they have identified the extent of healthcare and medication use (including opioids) associated with different patterns.

Back pain is among the most frequently reported health problems in the world.

 

For the study, researchers from the University Health Network’s Krembil Research Institute in Toronto, Canada studied 12,782 participants for 16 years.

They provided data on factors including comorbidities, pain, disability, opioid and other medication use, and healthcare visits.

The results showed that almost half (45.6 per cent) of the participants reported back pain at least once.

The study included four groups of pain: persistent (18 per cent), developing (28.1 per cent), recovery (20.5 per cent), and occasional (33.4 per cent).

The findings, published in Arthritis Care and Research, showed that the persistent and developing groups tended to have more pain and disability, as well as more healthcare visits and medication use than those in the recovery and occasional trajectory groups.

In addition, the recovery trajectory group increased the use of opioids and antidepressants over time.

“The good news is that one in five people with back pain recovered. However, they continued to use opioids and antidepressants, suggesting that people recovering from back pain need ongoing monitoring,” said lead author Mayilee Canizares, postdoctoral candidate from the varsity.

The bad news is that one in five experienced persistent back pain, said Canizares.

People with back pain are a heterogeneous group that may benefit from different approaches to management rather than a traditional one size fits all approach.The distinct groups identified in the study may represent opportunities for more individualised treatment and preventative strategies, Canizares noted.

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