By Bunmi Sofola
Experts are claiming that stress can be good for you. Research has apparently found that nerve-racking situations such as making a speech or dashing to the airport, will help you stay healthy and live longer. Stress, blamed for everything from depression to cancer is the biggest cause of long-term sickness, prompting warnings that it has become the ‘new back pain’ for office truants.
But researchers say mild-to-moderate stress increases the production of proteins that help repair body cells, including those in the brain, and enables them to work at peak capacity. Exercising this self repair mechanism can therefore help people look and feel younger.
They say the right kind of stress can even boost our natural defences to illness such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and arthritis. Dr. Marios Myriazis, medical director of British Longetivity Society, said that when we are exposed to mild stress, the cells start to break down and so a repair mechanism kicks off. This strengthens the cells and removes harmful chemicals but as it is more than is needed to repair damage, it leaves the cells stronger than they were before.
“The best way to keep the process working efficiently is to ‘exercise’ it in the same way you would exercise muscles to keep them strong,” he said. “This means you have to seek out stress in order for the body to keep responding to it. He told the second Anti-Aging Conference in London recently that he prescribes mild doses for frantic activity to patients such as redecorating the front room in a weekend or packing in a hurry to reach the airport in time. He also suggests people shop for a dinner party in their lunch hour and learn to set the video using the manual. He even recommends periods of food or sleep deprivation.
Good stress is short-term, mild, stimulating and gives a sense of achievement once it is over.
He warned, however, that prolonged exposure to stress, such as long-term care for a sick relative, is unhealthy. Being stuck in a traffic jam is also bad as the person is powerless to change the situation. The conference also heard from a Danish researcher who found that subjecting skin cells to mild stress can beat the signs of aging.
Professor Suresh Rattan, of Aarhus University, discovered that when skin cells in a test tube were exposed to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature reached during a fever—they kept their shape better and were less affected by ultraviolet light.