Neighborhoods and Its Effect on Telomeres
Despite the ongoing debate regarding nature versus nurture and the emphasis some researchers place more on the other, both are critical and the interaction between the two may matter most. From the genes we are innately born with to the lifestyle we choose to live, telomeres are largely affected by both.
When it comes to the external environment, research suggests our neighborhoods we reside in may be playing a larger impact than recognized and considered.
How Neighborhoods May Effect Telomeres
One of the largest social circles are within neighborhoods, with the most common factors affecting telomere health including:
Sense of Safety
Related to apparent crimes or the fear of them occurring, people lacking a sense of safety within their neighborhood may be negotiating the health of their telomeres. More specifically, levels of vandalism and the perception of safety have been associated to telomere length for better or for worse.
Trust Among Neighbors
A positive response to, "Are your neighbors mutually helpful?" "Do they trust one another?" "Do they get along or share values?" and ultimately, "If you were truly in need, could you rely on your neighbor?" likely supports telomere health. But those who lack a strong sense of community within their neighborhood may accelerate their cellular aging compared to others.
Individuals who feel "stuck" within their neighborhood are linked to shorter telomere length. The inability or inconvenience of moving to another area may be related to financial means or an appropriate opportunity and raises the risk of stress, anxiety, and depression - all of which are correlated to compromised telomere health.
Ultimately, The Telomere Effect positions, "Neighborhoods that are low in social cohesion - meaning that people don't know and trust one another - are bad for telomeres. This is true no matter the income level." Additionally, a study published in Health Place discovered people living in neighborhoods characterized by lower aesthetic quality, safety, and social cohesion displayed shorter telomeres compared to others living in a more salutary social environment, even after adjusting for lifestyle, socioeconomic, and medical factors.
Remodeling and Rebuilding a House into A Home
To reduce the risk of bargaining telomere health, individuals are encouraged to better understand and continue learning just how our environmental factors can internalize within. Rather than fixating on and stressing over circumstances (or neighborhoods) out of your control, individuals are encouraged to essentially remodel and rebuild their house into a personalized home. Below describes environmental factors and healthful, accommodating recommendations:
• If feeling secluded in your neighborhood, take the lead and reach out to your neighbors. Perhaps neighbors remain quiet and kept to oneself not related to negative feelings, but to not cross undetermined boundaries.
• If missing out on adequate sleep related to the stress of living in an unsafe area, practice stress-relieving techniques and cultivate a comfortable environment. Try meditating prior to bed, taking a warm bath, dimming the lights, or any other methods that promotes relaxation.
• If residing in a sedentary area, seek out and partake in any active opportunity. Particularly for those who thrive in an active environment, a reduction in recreational activities can diminish physical motivation. From tackling workouts at home to running at a local park, use all available surroundings to your advantage.
• If facing poor dietary habits in a Westernized culture, try to make gradual dietary adjustments for a total nutritional makeover. Whether practicing meal preparation or utilizing bistroMD's meal delivery service, consuming a well-balanced diet can ultimately build a strong, healthful interior and exterior!