What's really making us sick?

facebook There’s something you could be doing to improve your health that, if you don’t do this thing, according to research, it is worse for your health than smoking, obesity or lack of exercise.

It could also negatively impact your kids.

It is social isolation. And before you click on something else more exciting, hang in there because this research is crazy.

Imagine you were living a million years ago, you were separated from your tribe, and wandering through the woods (social isolation). The chances of you getting a socially acquired viral infection was pretty low, but the chances of you getting bitten by an animal or puncturing your skin were pretty high. Your super smart immune system adapts to protect you. It downplays the part that combats a socially acquired infections (you don't need this part because you're alone) and puts your pro-inflammatory processes on high alert (just incase something bit/punctured you)

Now fast forward a million years today.  As connected as we think we are – Twitter, Facebook, texting – we’re pretty socially isolated.  Many of us no longer have a tribe.  And guess what, according to research people that are socially isolated have lowered immunity to socially acquired infections and greater baseline levels of inflammation than those who are woven into a social network.

But here’s where it gets kind of crazy.  The impacts of social interaction actually impacts our genes and genetic expression.  In other words, depending our levels of social connection with others, certain genes (eg CTRA) may express as increased inflammation and decreased immunity.

You follow me? What I'm saying is our sense of social connection or social isolation may actually create health or disease by impacting genetic expression.

Wow.

And the results of one meta-analysis showed survival rates to be similar to smoking.

Double wow.

But it doesn’t end there.

It turns out there are two types of well-being, researchers dubbed as “hedonic” and “eudaimonic”, speaking to where you get your sense of well-being from.

Hedonic = self gratifying behaviors, anything that reduces your pain and increases your pleasure (eating a great meal or posting your best selfie on facebook & feeling giddy from the amount of likes you get.) ~satisfaction by getting~

Eudaimonic = feeling good by helping others, experiencing life purposes/challenges/growth (caring for your kids, old lady crossing the street, etc) ~satisfaction by giving~

But wait, Feeling good is feeling good, right?

Wrong.

It turns out your body knows where your good feelings come from and if they come from self-gratification, the CTRA genes become active and express as inflammation and decreased immunity. (Not good)

But if you feel gratified by helping others, those genes stay quiet, which keeps inflammation low and immunity high. (Good)

The take home is this:  Begin socially isolated and hedonistic (Can you say Facebook with a capital Facebook?), may actually be killing us slowly. Especially when you consider the research that mortality increases with the amount of time you sit everyday. It looks like a good old-fashioned dose of authentic living, rich in love and purpose  is just what the doctor ordered. In other words, get off your computer, spend time with others, and make a difference in the world.