(NaturalPath) In a study out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, researchers found that the more social ties people have at an early age the better their health is at the beginning and end of their life. The study is the first to definitively link social relationships with concrete measures of physical well-being such as abdominal obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure, all of which can lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease, stroke and cancer.
“Based on these findings, it should be as important to encourage adolescents and young adults to build broad social relationships and social skills for interacting with others as it is to eat healthily and be physically active,” said one researcher.
In adolescence, social isolation increased the risk of inflammation by the same amount as physical inactivity while social integration protected against abdominal obesity.
One researcher noted that social interaction most impacted health early and late in life, but not as much in the middle.
The researchers looked at three dimensions of social relationships: social integration, social support and social strain. They then studied how individual’s social relationships were associated with four markers shown to be key markers for mortality risk: blood pressure, waist circumference, body mass index and circulating levels of C-reactive protein, which is a measure of systemic inflammation.
Their findings about the link between social interaction and health can spur the public to make and keep friendships going so that they will reap the health benefits.
For more information, read the full study.
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.