When you think about summer you might think about feeling healthier. What are the reasons that you might associate summer with being healthy?
Maybe you're thinking about:
• Being beside a pool or beach, taking in some vitamin D, or just enjoying the mood-boosting effects of the sun.
• Going on vacation because relaxation is one of the healthiest things we can do.
• Exercising more because we are walking, running, swimming, kayaking or any other exercise you can dream up.
• Eating healthier with all the fresh fruits and vegetables that show up everywhere!
These are all great reasons that people stay healthy during the summer. But medical research has actually found some interesting immune and cardiovascular benefits, too.
Heart-attack survivorship is higher in the summer months than in the winter months, according to a 2012 research study reported on the Huffington Post website. The study said that 26-36 percent of patients were more likely to die of from a heart attack, a stroke, heart failure or some other circulatory disease, in the winter.
Research has found that our gene expression does change with the seasons. This means your body is really changing with the seasons as well.
A new study published on research from the University of Cambridge linked the activity of the immune system with the season. The immune system activity is higher in the warmer months. It means that diseases that are moderated by the immune system like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes can show improvement, or be less severe, during the summer months.
A second study published in the journal Nature Communications, looked at how genetic expression changed in different disease processes. Looking at the genetic expression gives us insight into human evolution process.
The study found that the genetic expression of many of our chronic diseases like heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis can be suppressed based on the season. They decided to focus on a specific sequence the anti-inflammatory circadian transcription factor that moderates the immune response.
These two studies are part of a field called epigenetics.