Nature, religion and art are some of life’s best anti-inflammatories

February 8th, 2015 by Dr. Keith Nemec

Taking in such beautiful wonders as the Grand Canyon, Sistine Chapel ceiling may give a boost to the body’s defense system, according to new research from UC Berkeley.

Researchers have linked positive emotions — especially the awe we feel when touched by the beauty of nature, art and spirituality — with lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that signal the immune system to work harder.

“Our findings demonstrate that positive emotions are associated with the markers of good health,” said researcher at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study, which she conducted while at UC Berkeley.

While cytokines are necessary for herding cells to the body’s battlegrounds to fight infection, disease and trauma, sustained high levels of cytokines are associated with poorer health and such disorders as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and even Alzheimer’s disease and clinical depression.

It has long been established that a healthy diet and lots of sleep and exercise bolster the body’s defenses against physical and mental illnesses. But the Berkeley study is one of the first to look at the role of positive emotions in that arsenal.

“That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions — a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art — has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy,” said UC Berkeley researcher.

In two separate experiments, more than 200 young adults reported on a given day the extent to which they had experienced such positive emotions as amusement, awe, compassion, contentment, joy, and love. Samples of tissue, known as oral mucosal transudate, taken that same day showed that those who experienced more of these positive emotions, especially awe, wonder and amazement, had the lowest levels of the cytokine, Interleukin 6, a marker of inflammation.

In addition to autoimmune diseases, elevated cytokines have been tied to depression. One recent study found that depressed patients had higher levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine known as TNF-alpha than their non-depressed counterparts. It is believed that by signaling the brain to produce inflammatory molecules, cytokines can block key hormones and neurotransmitters — such as serotonin and dopamine — that control moods, appetite, sleep and memory.


Dr. Keith & Laurie Nemec’s comments on “Nature, Religion and Art”

The key words in this research are “awe and wonder”.

What does nature remind us of?

Why does the Grand Canyon cause awe when we see it?

What do the paintings on the Sistine Chapel bring remembrance of?

When a baby is born and we see the awesome wonder of life what does this baby remind us of?

Rom 1:20

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. NIV

The answer is GOD! So what this research is basically saying in the translated form is that when we see things or think on things that remind us of God our Father in Heaven who created and sustains all things this boosts your immune system and reduces inflammation in your body.

Phil 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.NIV

Heb 12:2

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…NIV

So lets take this one step further. If looking at the Grand Canyon reminds us of the awesomeness of God and that increases immunity and decreases inflammation then it goes without saying that thanking God for who He IS and praising Him for what He has DONE for you would even boost your immune system more and decrease more inflammation.

This is called prayer. Prayer is not about you it is about HIM! It is not about your needs, but about His kingdom come His will being done hear and now on earth as it is in Heaven.

If you could always remember this one simple Truth it would transform your prayer life. IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT HIM NEVER ABOUT YOU!

Now you might say what about me? Remember it says the God knows what you need before you even ask. He is always looking out for you but you have to be in His presence to hear His Holy Spirit speaking to your heart and that comes when you are in a constant state of thanksgiving and praise.

Eccl 5:7

Therefore stand in awe of God. NIV

Luke 5:24-26

He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” NIV

Luke 7:14-16

Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God.NIV

Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,  praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.NIV

Ps 47:2

How awesome is the Lord Most High,the great King over all the earth! NIV

Ps 68:35

You are awesome, O God. NIV

Acts 3:6-10

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. NIV

Isa 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. NIV

1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. NIV

Ps 145:5-6

They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. NIV


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