HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Is stress making your body age faster? It is possible

How we deal and react to it is all that matters.

In Summary

•How we deal and react to it is all that matters. 

•Improving diet and exercise behaviours in older adults may help offset the immune aging associated with stress.

We are in the middle of a pandemic, a war and at the same time, we are dealing with high inflation and personal stress.

According to WebMD, stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It is normal to experience the feeling, but to a certain level as it is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand.

How we deal and react to it is all that matters. A group of researchers from the University of South California has said that stress indeed accelerates immune aging.

Our immune system ages as we get older, especially when we are in our 60s. This means our body loses the ability to protect against infections and cancers and may fail to support wound healing.

Their research which was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could help explain disparities in age-related health, including the unequal toll of the pandemic, and identify possible points for intervention.

What accounts for drastic health differences in same-age adults?

The researchers decided to see if they could find a connection between lifetime exposure to stress, which is a known contributor to poor health, and declining vigor in the immune system.

They analysed blood samples and gave questionnaires to respondents designed to assess their experiences with social stress, including stressful life events, chronic stress, everyday discrimination, and lifetime discrimination.

As expected, people with higher stress scores had older-seeming immune profiles, with lower percentages of fresh disease fighters and higher percentages of worn-out white blood cells.

Solution

"What this means is people who experience more stress tend to have poorer diet and exercise habits, partly explaining why they have more accelerated immune aging," said lead study author Eric Klopack.

Improving diet and exercise behaviours in older adults may help offset the immune aging associated with stress.