Want to repair your cells? Take them on vacation

We may not even realize it, but many of us live under conditions of almost continuous stress. From the moment the alarm brings us back from dreamland until it is time to return, we are subject to different forms of stress that can affect us hard.

Chronic stress is a serious enemy of physiological balance, and one of the main triggers of diseases such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and chronic inflammation. . Diseases closely linked to our lifestyle.

That’s why it’s important to take a break to relieve stress and repair cellular damage. The question is: do we really rest during our holidays? Or do we become even more stressed when we rush in the middle of a rush, stuck in long queues at the airport and rush to put our umbrella on the front line of the beach?

The side effects of stress

We constantly receive information in the form of sensory stimuli from outside, but also from within. This is how we detect hunger, thirst, drowsiness, pain, discomfort and more. While many of these sensations rely on nerve conduction, others are produced because our cells and organs release substances that inform other cells and organs. These substances are called local factors and hormones.

For example, when we need to react immediately to defend ourselves from danger, we release substances like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, which activate the organs to produce a quick response that makes us alert or enables us to escape us.

These stress hormones demand a response from our body, defensive or offensive, necessary for survival. We notice it immediately in symptoms such as dry mouth, sweaty palms, racing heartbeat or headaches. The problem is that we are usually stressed in the office, on the sofa, at home, in the supermarket or even while chatting with friends. In these situations, our body receives signals of danger, but our muscles and organs do not respond to them – we neither fight nor flee.

When this “contradiction” becomes permanent, it causes serious problems. Chronic stress keeps our cells in a state of continuous activation that causes molecular and cellular damage, chronic inflammatory responses, and a whole list of side effects that affect our health. The solution? To relax a bit.

Necessary relaxation: the effect of endorphins and other hormones

The effects of rest and relaxation on our cells are more than confirmed. Scientific evidence indicates that rest and restful sleep help eliminate the damage accumulated in them and recover the natural rhythms of sleep and wakefulness.

Melatonin (the “sleep hormone”) plays an essential role here by activating the elimination of damaged cellular structures. This prevents cellular waste from building up and prevents neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, from progressing.

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

Another neurotransmitter released when we are relaxed is serotonin, another substance known as the happy hormone. Its deficiency has been associated with multiple diseases, including chronic fatigue, but also dementia or severe Covid-19.

Holidays improve health

Considering all these factors, it is clear that enjoying a relaxing vacation that takes us away from daily stress is important to regain the physiological balance that allows us to maintain good health.

The simple act of lowering levels of stress hormones, while increasing those that produce pleasure and relaxation, helps cells eliminate accumulated damage and prevent multiple diseases. And you don’t have to go to exotic destinations or dream beaches: just put aside the pressures, rest carefree and enjoy. With this we gain a lot of health and our cells appreciate it.

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

Guillermo López Lluch is Professor of Cell Biology, Associate Researcher at the Andalusian Center for Developmental Biology and Researcher in Metabolism, Aging and Immune and Antioxidant Systems at the University Pablo de Olavide.

#repair #cells #vacation

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