The secrets of healthy people
The cold and flu season is undeniably in full swing as Autumn begins to fully envelop us. An article published online on the Guardian website early this year (24th January 2017) stated that, according to research, on average each of us will get around 200 colds in a lifetime. It explores the fact that although some people appear to suffer more than others, there is no evidence to back it up, and no scientifically proven link between lifestyle and enhanced immune function.
The article explains that for doctors and immunologists 'the notion of superhuman health remains at best unproven and at worst a fiction. This is because of the highly individual and complex nature of our immune systems, which are almost as specific to each of us as our fingerprints'. Daniel Davis, professor of immunology at the University of Manchester and author of The Compatibility Gene, explained; “There is an inherent diversity in how our immune systems respond to different diseases and that diversity is essential to how our species survives disease.” He goes on to point out that much of this diversity comes down to our inherited genetic makeup; “The greatest diversity in all of the 25,000 genes that make up the human genome is in our few immune system genes. That means that the genes that vary most between us all are the ones that influence the immune system.”
Scientific research results are clearly so very important to understanding health, but does the connection with state of mind play a part? Is something less tangible, and more mystical - and immeasurable - at play? Holistic health takes into account the subtle energy bodies, linking mind and body as a whole, but they are just that - subtle. There is a growing body of evidence showing energy healing positively influences the frequencies that energies within the body vibrate at. But there remains a lack of diagnostic equipment and scientific methods to accurately measure and prove this, so the popularity of these therapies relies on faith and personal experience. However, it doesn't appear to deter a growing number of people from signing up to the theory, as the holistic and complementary therapy industry boom illustrates.
Interestingly, the case study examples in the article highlight a connection; 55-year-old architect Jenny Hunter, who “very, very rarely gets ill”, says in the article that her lifestyle and attitude play a part, commenting; “My mum didn’t tolerate illness”. To maintain her health she said “I have a good diet, keep busy, and I do yoga, pilates and running every week. And I do think happiness plays a part. My default setting is that life is good.”
For the experts consulted by the Guardian, lifestyle at least is acknowledged as playing 'a significant part in the functioning of our immune response'. Dr Natalie Riddell, a lecturer in immunology at the University of Surrey and spokesperson for the British Society for Immunology comments; “The immune system is not solely governed by genetics. One of my research interests looks at how stress can negatively impact immune function. We have seen a dampening of immune responses among, say care-givers, versus the non-care-giving community.”
Thomas Walters also features as a case study, a writer and retired academic who says he is “probably in his final decade”. He has never seen himself as a person who gets ill, and incredibly, the only illness he can recall having as an adult is shingles, “which passed amazingly quickly”. His lifestyle, like those of all the people interviewed who claim to never get sick, is 'balanced, moderate, social, and suffused with a positive outlook'; “I drink a reasonable amount - one glass of wine a day and sometimes whisky,” he comments. “I’ve always walked as often as possible. I sleep extremely well, enjoy my dreams, and have very few nightmares. I tend to work until 10pm and have just finished a book about a late-Victorian architect. I would say my brain is as good as it’s ever been.”
When asked if he thought his good health might be inherited, he said; “Plenty of my relatives checked out in their 90s, although my parents didn’t live to a great age. My father had a very stressful career and my mother had cancer and died in her mid-60s. I’ve never had that kind of career stress.” Again, the link with stress and lifestyle seems hugely significant.
Through the general advice given on how not to get ill, such as don't smoke, or have too much alcohol, there is a very important point, concerning the evil buzzword of modern day living; stress: "Manage stress" Professor Daniel Davis advises in the article, "The best established link in terms of how lifestyle impacts the immune system is that stress levels relate to your immune system’s behaviour.” Chronic long term stress produces cortisol, which neutralises immune cells.
Of course, from a holistic view, stress is believed to have a huge range of undesirable effects on health and wellness, with chronic, long term stress leading to inevitable illness. We can create more of this through our negative thinking patterns. From my own experience, living with stress every day eventually meant monthly throat infections (and even operations), which over time, led to yet more problems as my body struggled to cope.
Perhaps we can't always avoid stress in our everyday lives, but the key is to manage it, as well as manage your perspective of it. Energy healing techniques are excellent for combating the effects, giving you a fighting chance of staying balanced through turbulent times. Not only that, they nurture a positive attitude and acceptance of life that helps find inner tranquility, even when your environment seems volatile. For me, regular Reiki meant the throat infections all but disappeared (not a single one in 2 years). That's one secret I think we should all share.
Read the Guardian's article here