Couples using thoughtful words while communicating, stay fit

Couples using thoughtful words while communicating, stay fit

Now, researchers in the US have found that couples
who bring thoughtful words to a fight release lower amounts
of stress-related proteins, suggesting rational communication
between partners can ease the impact of marital conflict on
the immune system.

Individuals in a stressful situation -- as in a
troubled relationship -- typically have elevated levels of
chemicals known as cytokines. These proteins are produced by
cells in the immune system and help the body mount an immune
response during infection.

However, abnormally high levels of these proteins are
linked to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, type-2
diabetes, arthritis and some cancers, say researchers.

"Typically, if you bring people to a lab and
put them under stress, either by engaging them in a conflict
or giving them a public speaking task, you can see an increase
in proinflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin-6 (Il-6) and
tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)," lead researcher
Prof Jennifer Graham of Penn State University said.

Graham added: "We specifically looked at words that are linked with cognitive processing in other research and which have been predictive of health in studies where people express emotion about stressful events.
"These are words like -- think, because, reason, why -- that suggest people are either making sense of the conflict or at least thinking about it in a deep way."
For the study, the 42 couples made two separate overnight visits over two weeks. "We found that, controlling for depressed mood, individuals who showed more evidence of cognitive discussion during their fights showed smaller increases in both Il-6 and TNF-alpha cytokines over a 24-hour period," said Graham.
The findings have been published in the latest issue of the 'Health Psychology' journal.

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