Originally published March 20 2015
Nature, art, and spirituality relieve inflammation and improve health, study shows
by PF Louis
(NaturalNews) It's understood that natural outdoor settings, art and music can inspire awe and in turn, make people feel better. Meditation too, has been proven to improve physical and emotional health. All of this is important, because living in a state of chronic stress can lead to inflammation, the basis of disease.
The exact mechanics of how these emotionally-positive influences affect us was tackled by researchers who studied the link between nature, art and spirituality and health at the University of California, Berkeley. Their findings were published in the journal Emotion.
"Our findings demonstrate that positive emotions are associated with the markers of good health," said Jennifer Stellar, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto. Stellar was also the lead author of the study conducted while she was at UC Berkeley.
Positive emotions, good health go hand in handWhile past research has explored the role of exercise, sleep and diet as it relates to health, positive emotions and their role in health has typically been put on the back burner. However, it's known that cytokines, or the proteins that signal the immune system to work harder, kick in depending on one's positivity; lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines have been linked to the uplifting emotion.
UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, a co-author of the study, adds, "That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions -- a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art -- has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy."
So while some may consider such experiences a waste of time or a diversion from production, they directly affect health. Throw in meditation with those other "time-wasters" to round out proven emotional, mental and physical health enhancers.
Cytokines: why they matterCytokines are a necessary element of our immune responses to infectious threats. But if they remain chronic and out of control, they create autoimmune diseases and depression.
According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, retired neurosurgeon and author of , vaccinations can overly stimulate the immune system, essentially creating a cytokine storm.
This "storm" turns the immune system against its host -- the person who received the vaccination -- creating chronic autoimmune diseases such as asthma or acute adverse events such as Gullain Barre Syndrome, seizures or paralysis.
But excess chronic cytokines don't have to be at out-of-control levels to create long-term health issues. They can accrue from unresolved stress as well as from toxic overloads found in the standard American diet.
Study details and findings The UC Berkeley researchers conducted two experiments to measure cytokines from those uninspired by nature, art, or music, comparing their findings to individuals who did not encounter such inspirational feelings or activities during the day. They used 200 young adults in their experiments.
On days when these young adults had awe-inspiring experiences, the researchers took samples of their gum and cheek tissue, known as oral mucosal transudate. It was found that those who experienced more of these positive emotions -- especially awe, wonder and amazement -- had the lowest levels of the cytokine, Interleukin 6, a marker of inflammation.
An earlier study determined that people who were depressed had higher levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine known as TNF-alpha. This creates a situation in which cytokines block the key hormones and neurotransmitters that control moods, appetite, sleep and memory.
Instead of pharmaceutical "solutions," turn to nature, music to improve healthA few years ago, Stanford University medical research group led by Robert Sapolsky embarked on an attempt to create a vaccine for stress. They were using Sapolsky's interesting findings on the flight or fight hormones found in baboon blood samples. The samples were taken from baboons in the African wild that had undergone stress in their daily situations by living with tyrannical alpha baboon pack leaders.
While Sapolsky's baboon research proved to a skeptical mainstream medical system the validity of how chronic stress can cause disease, their vaccine adventure was the wrong approach.
Furthermore, naturally managing stress through music or meditation is quite simply not fully embraced by Big Pharma, and so vaccines that harm the body continue to be produced.
There are proven dietary and lifestyle changes that can reduce chronic stress markers and reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines. Such changes include engaging in meditation and indulging in awe- inspiring events that involve nature, art and music.
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