It is widely known that maintaining a strong social support network is important for mental health. But did you know that social isolation can also have negative impacts on our brain health?
According to a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, prolonged social isolation was found to increase inflammation in the brain, leading to negative effects on learning and memory. Other studies have shown that social isolation can lead to changes in brain structure, including decreased gray matter volume in areas important for emotional processing and cognitive function.
This portrays just how much social isolation can drastically impact both brain and mental health. A study, published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, found that individuals who reported feeling lonely had decreased brain volume in areas associated with memory and cognitive function with an increased risk for dementia.
In a separate study, published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, researchers found that feeling socially isolated can have an even greater impact on mortality than smoking 15 cigarettes a day! Not only have we reviewed research studies on this subject, but we've also seen firsthand evidence with our patients. It is no coincidence that we see drastic emotional AND physical improvements in our patients who attend group visits or have a strong support system.
The numbers speak for themselves! In-person and virtual group coaching visits have been proven to lead to greater improvements in a1C values and metabolic markers compared to those who do not attend groups or have a strong social support system. Our brain health is drastically impacted by our metabolic function, insulin regulation and blood sugars. If we have a happy metabolism, our immune function and detoxification processes will benefit as well, leading to better cognitive function. Therefore, by spending time with positive community and receiving social support, we are actually improving inflammation, promoting blood sugar balance, and improving brain function.
Our clinic is passionate about encouraging the members of our tribe to live their healthiest life. We know how hard it is to make lasting behavior changes without much needed support. As humans, we are not designed to do life alone! If you are seeking a community of like-minded individuals who are passionate about making lifestyle changes to promote their health, contact us to discover the wonderful opportunities and resources we have available for you.
It is clear that community is important for both our brain and mental health. Make an effort to maintain a strong social support network and stay connected with your community. Your brain (and mental health) will thank you!
"Social Isolation and Brain Health." Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, vol. 10, no. 6, 2018, doi:10.3389/fnagi.2018.00090.
"Cacioppo, John T., et al. "Loneliness as a Specific Risk Factor for Depressive Symptoms: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Analyses." Perspectives on Psychological Science, vol. 7, no. 3, 2012, pp. 227-237. ProQuest Research Library, http://ezproxy.
"Holt-Lunstad, Julianne, et al. "Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review." Perspectives on Psychological Science, vol. 10, no. 2, 2015, pp. 227-237. ProQuest Research Library, http://ezproxy.found that having strong social relationships can actually