Tag

stress

Browsing

Stress levels may be a key factor in determining who suffers from severe COVID-19 and could potentially help measure who is at an increased risk of mortality. In a study conducted in London, researchers took the cortisol levels within 48 hours of hospital admittance in suspected COVID patients. Those who did not have COVID became the control group. Of the suspected patients admitted, 403 patients were found to have COVID. After analyzing the results, researchers found that the mean cortisol levels in COVID patients was 619 nmol/L versus 519 nmol/L in non-COVID patients. In addition, in patients with higher cortisol levels, a 43% increase in mortality was observed. Those with cortisol levels greater than 744 nmol/L had a median survival of 15 days versus 36 days in those with cortisol levels less than 744 nmol/L. MedRxIV Takeaway: Researchers noted that stress levels observed in some COVID patients were higher than…

A January 2020 study, published in Nature, found that stress does actually cause hair to gray. While scientists have known this for hundreds of years, the physiological mechanisms weren’t discovered until now. When experiencing stress, the nervous system switches on its fight-or-flight response – a “hyperactivation of the sympathetic nerves” – which depletes the cells responsible for pigmentation (melanocyte stem cells) in hair follicles. To induce a stress response, scientists injected capsaicin (an active ingredient in chili peppers) into mice and found that in 5 days their hair turned white. After digging deep into what caused the change, scientists discovered that the nervous system was responsible. The fight-or-flight response triggers the release of the neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, which jump starts the process of melanocyte stem cell depletion. Takeaway: The COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful time for us all, from the challenges that come with social distancing to the fears associated with…

We now know that a calorie deficit isn’t the end-all-be-all solution for losing weight. But why is this, and why do so many of us struggle to shed extra pounds? While poor diet is usually the number one culprit for stubborn excess body weight, a recent molecular finding sheds light on why weight loss may be so challenging. In a July 2019 study published in Cell, scientists uncovered a protein which resides on fat cell surfaces that plays an integral role in weight gain and loss. During times of stress, such as during dieting, excessive exercise, and overeating, the protein (RAGE, or receptor for advanced glycation end products) shuts down fat burning mechanisms. This protein could hold the answer for why it’s challenging to lose weight and even more challenging to keep weight off long term – especially when we’re trying our best by cutting calories and increasing our physical…

Closing your eyes with intention can be transformative. The sound of your breath amplifies in your nose and throat; your senses sharpen to taste, touch, and scent. The external world melts away for a moment as you withdraw into yourself. Your stream of consciousness, now unveiled, reveals the magnitude of thoughts, emotions, and memories you might normally push aside or attempt to silence. Feelings of deep relaxation take hold, and you may even drift into a few minutes of sleep. Whatever your meditative experience involves, the longer you allow yourself to stay in this altered state of consciousness, the more profound the physiological response in your body: from lowered blood pressure to a strengthened immune system and altered gene expression, pain relief and increased energy, reduced performance anxiety and improved creativity. Most impressive is meditation’s ability to target and release stress, a positive shift that directly affects your gut health and the trillions of microorganisms that make up your microbiome.…

The stress experienced during competitive social situations negatively affects the gut microbiome. The experiment was performed in Syrian hamsters, animals that compete to establish hierarchies of dominant and subordinate groups. The study analyzed gut bacteria before the hamsters met and after they had competed for hierarchical placement, then compared these samples to a control group of hamsters that lived in an already established group. In the study, even a single exposure to social stress altered the gut microbiota, significantly decreasing gut bacteria diversity and composition. Repeated exposure to stress resulted in greater negative impacts on the microbiome. There was no significant difference in alterations between winners and losers; social stress in both groups led to similar changes, although the specific bacteria impacted were different between the two groups. Interestingly, higher levels of some bacteria predicted whether an animal would become a winner or loser. Behavioral Brain Research →Takeaway: Researchers say that this supports…

Relax! It may be just what the doctor ordered. While studies find that mind-body practices (yoga, meditation, etc.) that induce the relaxation response (RR) reduce blood pressure, the molecular pathways that lead to this association remain unknown. A recent study analyzed RR’s effects on gene pathways over an 8-week RR-based intervention in 58 patients diagnosed with hypertension. The intervention consisted of 20 minutes per day of diaphragmatic breathing, mantra repetition, and mindfulness meditation. Blood samples were taken for RNA analysis and results found that RR regulates 1771 genes in the following categories: immune regulatory pathways and metabolism, glucose metabolism, cardiovascular system development, and circadian rhythm. This is the first study to uncover the molecular mechanisms that support mind-body practices as an effective treatment for hypertension. The Journal of Alternative & Complimentary Medicine Society →Takeaway: While the science behind integrative treatment methods (nutrition, meditation, exercise, etc.) is oftentimes lacking, this study illustrates the profound…