There are clear reasons why we tend to be more exposed to certain kinds of viruses in winter or more vulnerable to others in autumn or any other season. Genes that help out or regulate immunity appear to be more active in cold months, when our bodies need to stay protected from the harsh cold factors.
Our immune system is designed to fight off flu in winter but other health conditions can aggravate or be triggered due to changes in temperature. Arthritis is such a case, where the body attacks itself.
An international team of researches took blood and tissue samples to analysis. More than 16,000 people around the world were selected for gene analysis. Researchers gathered together no less than 22.000 genes from study subjects. This large number is very close to the total amount of genes a human possesses.
Their highlight cast upon the genes involved with immunity and inflammation. Studies concluded that during cold winter months immunity genes are more active among people living in the north of Equator, compared to those who live in the southern hemisphere, whose immunity genes become more active in June and August.
People close to the Equator are more exposed in rainy seasons. Immunity and inflammation are tied to the weather conditions and rainy seasons are the perfect timing for malaria to conquer healthy cells.
Gene analysis could clearly explain why people are more exposed to certain diseases at particular times of year. A close look to inflammation gene activity could explain the raising number of diabetes patients in UK, for instance.
To study how the immunity and inflammatory genes react under certain weather conditions is to find a hint towards an answer that may unveil the root cause of diabetes. This is however not enough proof to justify the appearance of a disease in an individual, as many factors above weather conditions influence health changes.
Diet may be another factor and surprisingly or not, it is also linked to seasons change. We are used to adjusting our diets to seasons, depending on what we find on the markets and what our body craves for. Stress is among other main factors that change genes behavior, making us more vulnerable in front of diseases.
A report of the study was published in Nature Communications and reveals how one fifth of all genes are prone to seasonal changes. Genes are not immutable, our body reacts and modifies its inner workings based on the translation of genes. Winter modifies our genes to make our blood denser, thus protecting the outside tissues from flu and other types of infections. On the other hand, summer veins are thin and delicate, allowing blood to transport fat burners and activate water-retaining hormones. The seasonal changes in genes help scientists out with answers regarding inflammatory diseases such as hypertension and the previously mentioned autoimmune diabetes as well.
This sheds light on how our bodies work and adapt to different environments. Simple factors like changes in the weather can affect our health to a worrying degree. Studies in this matter already opened the path to a better way of taking care and acknowledging our health.
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