Harvard Medical School Publications writes that the effects of lifestyle on the immune system are intriguing and should be studied. There are a number of researchers who are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, herbal supplements, and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans. It is generally considered that healthy-living strategies are a good way to start giving your immune system a boost. In an article on Jan. 19, 2013, Science Daily has reported, Loneliness, Like Chronic Stress, Taxes the Immune System, Researchers Find.
New research has linked loneliness to a number of dysfunctional immune responses, which suggests that being lonely has the potential to harm overall health. Researchers have found that people who were more lonely showed signs of elevated latent herpes virus reactivation and they produced more inflammation-related proteins in response to acute stress than did people who felt more socially connected.
These proteins are associated with the presence of inflammation, and chronic inflammation is linked to numerous conditions, which include coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease, as well as the frailty and functional decline that can accompany aging. Furthermore, the reactivation of a latent herpes virus is known to be associated with stress,
which suggests that loneliness functions as a chronic stressor which triggers a poorly controlled immune response.
Lisa Jaremka, who is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University and lead author of this research, has said, "It is clear from previous research that poor-quality relationships are linked to a number of health problems, including premature mortality and all sorts of other very serious health conditions. And people who are lonely clearly feel like they are in poor-quality relationships."
Jaremka has also said, "One reason this type of research is important is to understand how loneliness and relationships broadly affect health. The more we understand about the process, the more potential there is to counter those negative effects -- to perhaps intervene. If we don't know the physiological processes, what are we going to do to change them?" Jaremka has also commented, "Loneliness has been thought of in many ways as a chronic stressor -- a socially painful situation that can last for quite a long time."