Hello, and welcome to this month's article! How’s your summer going? Have you been able to spend some time outside, enjoying the healthy sunshine? Getting some fresh air and a little space in a natural setting can go a long way to improving your mood and boosting your health.
This has been the year to appreciate how important good health is and just how fragile it can be. We all want to stay healthy and certainly to avoid severe health challenges such as the current pandemic.
Now is the perfect time to strengthen your immune system and support your overall health with regular massage sessions.
This month’s main article is a nice reminder of how vital massage can be—and what we stand to lose without touch in our lives. Then, read on to discover how serotonin located in your gut can help your body to fight off all manner of infection and illness.
Schedule your next massage to stay strong and healthy! See you soon for your next appointment. Until then, take care.
Tiffany Field: the power of touch in a socially distant world
A survey into how people have been dealing with the lack of physical contact during lockdown has found that 60 percent felt deprived of touch, and that can lead to a raft of health problems, including depression and anxiety.
Professor Tiffany Field is the director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, and she studies human touch: why we need it, what it can do for us and how the importance of touch is affected by our cultural background.
A survey of people in lockdown undertaken in April found that about 60 percent of respondents had touch deprivation which can lead to health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbance and post-traumatic stress symptoms.
Professor Field said one of the biggest problems was sleep disturbance.
She said it could be a vicious circle as touch deprivation contributes to anxiety about the Covid situation, but anxiety also contributes to touch deprivation.
She said stimulation of the skin through touch, massage therapy or exercise is essential to well being and health.
"I'm just telling people, you know just walk around your room, sit and swing your legs and you will be stimulating, you will be moving the skin, and all of that will help if you're not getting enough touch at home."
Professor Field has done research into the use of massage therapy to stimulate growth in premature babies. "We massaged them and they gained more weight, 47 percent more weight and they were discharged five days early, so yes that was very effective."
The results came from a study which compared premature babies who received massage with a group of premature babies who did not.
Professor Field said she went on to do other studies, which generally involved parents massaging their children or parents massaging each other.
"We have now many adult studies as well, and it's very effective because it not only reduces depression and anxiety and those kind of awful emotional feelings, but it is a very strong physiological, biochemical kind of stimulus that basically contributes to our immune function.
"When you move the skin as you do in massage therapy, or you do in virtually any kind of exercise—including just walking around the room—you're stimulating pressure receptors in your skin, and when that happens your nervous system slows down."
It slowed down the heart rate, blood pressure and brainwaves and diminished stress hormones like cortisol, she said.
Professor Field said when stress hormones are reduced, it can save immune cells which can then kill the viral, bacterial or cancer cells.
Happiness May Guard Against Deadly Gut Infections
by John Anderer
Researchers from the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have found evidence that serotonin, the brain chemical responsible for feelings of happiness and well being, may be able to stop harmful intestinal pathogens from causing deadly infections.
Serotonin is almost always thought of as a brain chemical, but about 90% of it is actually produced in the digestive tract. There are also trillions of bacteria living in the stomach as well, and while the vast majority of those bacteria are good and beneficial, some pathogenic bacteria also make their way to the gastrointestinal tract. When this happens, it can lead to serious and sometimes fatal gut infections.
Gut bacteria, like any other form of bacteria, are quite susceptible to their living environment. With this in mind, the study’s authors pondered if levels of serotonin being made in the gut affected these pathogens in any way.
To study this possible relationship, researchers focused on E. coli 0157, a type of bacteria known to cause semi-frequent outbreaks of sometimes deadly food-borne infections. Some samples of these bacteria were grown by the team in a lab setting and then exposed to serotonin. Notably, gene expression tests conducted after this exposure reveal that the serotonin had indeed significantly reduced the “expression” of genes within the bacteria that cause infections.
Furthermore, when human cells were exposed to the serotonin-weakened bacteria, that bacteria was no longer capable of inflicting “infection-associated lesions.” So, just add some serotonin and the bacteria loses its ability to produce an infection.
The study’s authors want to continue their work on this subject, and are hopeful serotonin can be used as a legitimate treatment option for bacterial gut infections. As of now, there are very few available antibiotics that are effective against E. coli 0157.
“Treating bacterial infections, especially in the gut, can be very difficult,” says study leader Vanessa Sperandio, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
The study is published in Cell Host and Microbe.
You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.
— Joyce Meyer
The content of this article is not designed to replace professional medical advice. If you’re ill, consult a physician.
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