Friday, September 29, 2023

How our cells change after a relaxing vacation

We republish this article from William Lopez Lunchprofessor in the area of ​​Cellular Biology, associate researcher at the Andalusian Center for Developmental Biology and researcher in metabolism, aging and immune and antioxidant systems at the Pablo de Olavide University, published in The Conversation on September 6, 2022.

We do not realize it, but a large part of us live in conditions of almost continuous stress. Since the sound of the alarm clock snatches us from the arms of Morpheus until we try to fall into his arms again, we are usually subjected to different forms of stress that can affect us quite seriously.

In fact, chronic stress is a serious enemy of physiological balance and one of the main factors disease triggers What metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, some neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Y chronic inflammation. Essentially, diseases whose origin has a lot to do with life habits.

Thus, taking a break is important to discharge stress and cell damage to the body. The question is, do we really rest on vacation? Or, instead, do we get more stressed when we are part of stampedes full of rushes, traffic jams, queues at airports and races to place the umbrella on the beach?

side effects of stress

We constantly receive information in the form of sensory stimuli from the outside, but also from the inside. This is how we detect if we are hungry, thirsty, sleepy, in pain, unwell…

Many of these sensations depend on nerve conductionsbut others occur because our cells and organs release substances that inform other cells and organs. We know these substances as local factors and hormones.

For example, when we need to react immediately to defend ourselves from danger, we release substances such as adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol that activate the organs to produce a rapid response that either puts us on alert or directly allows us to escape.

These stress hormones They request from our body a defensive or offensive response necessary for survival. We notice it immediately in symptoms such as dry mouth, sweaty hands, increased heart rate or headache. The problem is that, in general, we get stressed when we are in the office, on the sofa, at home, in the supermarket or even chatting with friends. In those situations, our body receives signals of danger, but our muscles and organs do not respond to them (we do not fight or flee).

When that “contradiction” is perpetuated over time, it causes us serious problems. The chronic stress keeps our cells in a state of continuous activation that ends up producing molecular and cellular damagechronic inflammatory responses and a whole set of side effects that affect our health.

The solution? Take life with a little peace of mind.

Necessary relaxation: the effect of endorphins and other hormones

Rest and relaxation have more than proven beneficial effects on cells. For now, scientific evidence indicates that rest and restful sleep help eliminate accumulated damage in these and to recover the natural rhythms of sleep and wakefulness.

Melatonin or “sleep hormone” plays an essential role in this regard, because it activates the elimination of damaged cellular structures. This prevents cell waste from accumulating and prevents diseases from progressing neuroneurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

On the other hand, a pleasant vacation releases endorphins in our body. Known as the “happiness hormones”is about small proteins that stimulate the centers of pleasurable emotions in the brain. They are considered endogenous opioids and our neurons release them when we are in relaxing, happy situations and when we exercise. Although the molecular effects of these neurotransmitters are not entirely clear, some evidence indicates that they may prevent the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

Another neurotransmitter that is released when we are relaxed is serotonin, another substance also known as the “happiness hormone”. Its deficiency has been associated with multiple diseases, especially with chronic fatiguebut also with dementia or with the severity of covid-19.

Vacations improve health

Taking all these factors into account, enjoying a relaxed vacation that take us away from daily stress is important to restore physiological balance that allow us to maintain good health.

Only lower levels of stress hormones, while increasing those that produce pleasure and relaxation, helps cells eliminate accumulated damage over time and prevent multiple diseases. It is not necessary to go to exotic destinations or dream beaches: just put aside the pressures, rest without worries and enjoy. With that we gain a lot in health and our cells appreciate it.

And when the holidays are over, it would not hurt to keep in mind how good well-organized rest is for our body.

The Conversation


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