So, what’s about social network? The social network dimension, or social relationships, both quality and quantity, affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risks. Socialogists have played a central role in establishing the link between social relationships and health outcome, identifying explanations for this link, and discovering social variations at the population level. Studies show that social relationships have short and long term affects on health, for better or for worse, and that these affects emerge in childhood and cascade throughout life to foster advantages or disadvantages in health. This article describes key research themes in the study of social relationships and health, and it highlights policy implications suggested by this research.
Wikipedia defines social networking as, “Attitudes, orientations, or behaviors, which take interest, intentions, or needs of all people into account in a supporting manner.” To learn more on social networking on Wikipedia, read here.
Captors use isolation to torture prisoners of war, to a drastic affect. Social isolation of otherwise healthy, well-functioning individuals, eventually results in psychological and physical disintegration, and even death. Over the past few decades, social scientists have gone beyond evidence of extreme social deprivation to demonstrate a clear link between relationships and health, and how that knowledge might be translated into policy that promotes population health.
What Are Social Connections?
Social scientists have studied several distinct features of social connection offered by relationships. Social isolation involves the relative absence of social relationships, whereas, social integration refers to overall level of involvement with informal social relationships, such as having a spouse, and formal relationships, such as those associated with religious institutions or volunteer organizations. Quality of relationships include positive aspects of relationships, such as emotional support provided by significant others, and strained aspects, such as conflicts and stress. Each of these aspects of social relationships affect your health.
Social Relationships Benefit Health
Many types of scientific evidence shows that being sociable benefits health. The most striking evidence comes from studies of mortality across industrialized nations. These studies consistently show that individuals with the lowest level of involvements, are more likely to die, than those with greater social engagement. For example, a Berkman and Syme study in 1979, showed that the risk of death among men and women with the fewest social ties, was more than twice as high as the risk for adults with the most social ties.
In addition, social ties also reduced mortality risks among adults with medical conditions. For example, one study found that adults with coronary artery disease, the socially isolated had a risk of cardiac death, 2.4 times greater than the more socially connected peers.
Besides mortality, a low quality of social ties, had a detrimental affect on a host of conditions, including the development and progression of cardiovascular disease, recurrent myocardial infarction, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, cancer, delayed cancer recovery, and slower wound healing. Poor quality of social engagement have also been associated with inflammatory bio makers and impaired immune function, which are factors associated with adverse health outcomes and mortality.
Marriage is perhaps, the most studied social ties connection. Recent studies show that marriage history over the life course shapes a range of positive health outcomes, including, reducing cardiovascular disease, chronic conditions, mobility limitations, self-rated health, and depression.
How Do Social Ties Benefit Health
Generally speaking, there are three broad ways that social ties work to influence health: Behavioral, Psychosocial, and Physiological.
Behavioral Way. Health behavior explains about 40% of premature mortality, as well as, substantial mobility and disability in the US. Some beneficial behaviors, such as exercise, consuming nutritious foods and a balanced diet, with natural supplementation, and adherence to medical regimens, tend to promote health and prevent illness, and emotional issues. While other harmful behaviors such as smoking, excessive wright gain, drug abuse, and heavy alcohol consumption, tend to undermine health and well being.
A 1983 Berkman and Breslow study showed that greater overall involvement with formal organizations like religious groups, and, informal ties, like family and friends, were associated with more favorable health behaviors over a ten-year period.
Being married, having children, and ties to religious organizations, have all been linked to positive health behaviors. There are two exceptions when it comes to marriages, though, and those are lack of physical activity, and excessive weight gain, which tend to skew the results.
Social ties influence health behavior because it exhibits some control of one’s health habits. For example, a wife might monitor, inhibit, regulate, and facilitate certain health behaviors that promote a partner’s health. Religious ties also appear to influence health behaviors, in part, through social requirements, and what’s expected of you by the organization. Social ties can instill a sense of responsibility and concern for others, that then lead to individuals to engage in behaviors that protect others, as well as their own health. Social ties provide information and create norms and boundaries that further influence good health habits.
Psychosocial Way. Research across populations suggest possible psychosocial mechanisms to explain how social ties promote physical and emotional health. Mechanisms include social support, personal control, symbolic meaning and norms, and mental health.
Social support refers to the emotional sustaining qualities of relationships, in the sense of that one is loved, cared for, and listened to. Social support may also have an indirect affect on health through good mental health, by reducing the impact of harmful stress, or by fostering a sense of meaning and purpose in life. Supporting social ties trigger positive physiological reactions, like reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones, reducing health risks. Personal control exists too with certain individuals, ant it involves those individuals who possess the innate ability to personally control their own behavioral actions.
Social norms, or symbolic meaning attached to marriage and relationships with children may foster a greater sense of responsibility to stay healthy, thus promoting healthier lifestyles in a more fundamental way. Greater social connection may foster a sense of coherence, or meaning and purpose in life, which, in turn, enhances mental and emotional health, physiological processes, and physical health.
The emotional support provided by social ties enhances psychological well being and mental health, and may reduce the risk of unhealthy behaviors resulting in poor physical health.
Physiological Way. Physiologists, Socialogists, and Epidemiologists have contributed a great deal to our understanding of how social processes influence physiological processes that help explain the link between social ties and health. Foe example, supportive interactions with others, benefit immune, Endocrine, and cardiovascular function, and also reduce allostatic load, which reflects the wear and tear on the body, due, in part, to chronically overworked physiological systems engaged in stress responses.
These processes unfold over the entire life course, which affects our health. Emotionally supported childhood environments promote healthy development of regulatory systems, including immune, metabolic, autonomic nervous system, as well as, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal hormones, with long-term consequences for adult health and well being. Social support in adulthood reduces physiological responses such as cardiovascular reactivity to both anticipated and existing life stressors. Continuing married adults experience a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared with those who have experienced a marital loss, in part, due to the psychosocial supports presented by marriage. For more information on social dimension, read this article “What Is Social Intelligence About?”
Good Nutrition Role
Now that we’ve answered the question of what’s about social network? And, we’ve covered the vital importance of social engagement and how it affects every aspect of our physical, mental, and emotional health and well being throughout life, let us look a natural basic requirement that has to be present, even before the social life dimension gets consideration, or for that matter, any of the other life dimensions gets consideration, which is good nutrition and a healthy diet.
Your brain is always “on”. It takes care of your thoughts, emotions, movements, your breathing and heartbeat, and your senses. Your brain works hard 24/7, even while you sleep. This simply means your brain and all of its processes, such as thinking and emotions, require a constant supply of fuel. What you consume as fuel directly affect the structure and proper function of your brain, your mood, and your emotional well being.
Eating high quality nutritious-rich foods that contain the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, nourishes the brain, allow it to function properly, protects it from oxidative stress, or free radical damage, which damage brain cells.
Foods lacking in good nutrition, such as processed or refined foods, are high in refined sugars, sodium (salt), and other chemical additives and preservatives, can not be properly assimilated by your body, and particularly by your brain cells, and are harmful. In addition to worsening your body’s regulation of insulin, those types of food also promote inflammation, and oxidative stress in brain cells. Multiple studies have shown a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and other additives, and inpared brain function. Ultimately, if this condition persists, even worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are the results.
If your brain is deprived of nutritious-rich foods, or if free radicals, or damaging inflammation, occurs within brain cells, contributing to tissue injury, damaging unhealthy consequences are to be expected. What’s interesting, is that for many years, the medical community did not fully acknowledge the correlation between mood and emotions and food.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate mood, and inhibit pain. Since about 99% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, which is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner works of your digestive system, do not just help you digest food, but also determine and guide your feeling and emotions.
What is even more striking, the function of these neurons, and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, is highly influenced by the “good” bacteria that make up your microbiome. These good bacteria play a significant role in your health and well being. The good bacteria protect the lining of your intestines, and provide a strong barrier against toxins, limit inflammation, improves how well you absorb nutrients, and keeps neurons flowing freely in the brain-gut pathway.
Traditional diets like the Mediterranian Diet, and the traditional Japanese Diet, compared to our “western” diet, have shown that the risk of emotional disturbances and depression, is 25% to 35% lower in those who regularly consumed traditional diets. Scientists account for these differences, because the traditional diets tend to be high in veggies (greens), fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and, in only smaller quantities, lean beef and dairy. The foods in traditional diets tend to be eaten fresh also, maintaining the full nutritional value of the food. Traditional foods are also void of processed, refined foods, and sugars, which are all staples of the western diet.
In addition, many of these unprocessed foods are fermented, and therefore act as a natural probiotic. Fermentation uses bacteria and yeast to convert sugar in food to carbon dioxide, alcohol, and lactic acid, which protects food from spoiling. , and adds a pleasant taste and texture.
As I mentioned in the traditional diets, the foods are usually eaten very fresh, which is a huge advantage also, because the consumer is receiving the full nutritional benefits of the food, as designed by nature. It’s generally accepted that there is as much as 35% loss in nutritional value in foods that aren’t eaten fresh, as is typical in western practice, because the bulk of foods available for the general public for purchase are not fresh. The foods are represented as fresh and they look fresh, but, unfortunately they are most likely not fresh, because they have probably been in refrigeration for weeks. So, keep that in mind, you should make every effort to locate and buy foods that are fresh, if you expect to benefit from the full natural nutritional value of the food.
Advantage Of Supplementing Your Diet
You now have the answer to what’s about social network and all the benefits of having strong healthy social connections, and its importance in terms of you maintaining overall health and well being, are you ready to take action? Please let me know, or if you have questions or comments, leave them below.