Can Tunes Boost Your Immunity?
You don't have to be a neuroscientist to recognize that music has an effect on your mood. Music evokes memory, inspires creativity, alleviates boredom, lifts spirits, and enhances motivation during a workout. But can listening to music boost your physical health and, in particular, your immune system?
The answer appears to be a resounding yes.
For decades, scientists have been exploring the power of music from various angles: How does music affect everyday tasks? Does music influence states of arousal? Can music alter the response to stressors? Does music improve depression and anxiety? Can music improve recovery from surgery? Does type of music make a difference?
One of the largest studies determined that music has an impact on social bonding and management of mood; additionally there appears to be a unique relationship between stress, music, and immunity. It goes like this: frequent stress raises the level of the hormone cortisol in the bloodstream; too much cortisol deteriorates the immune response, making us more prone to illness and certain chronic diseases. Listening to our favorite "uplifting music" calms the mind and body enough to lower levels of cortisol and raise the levels of antibodies associated with fighting infection.
What Kind of Music is Best for Health Benefits?
Because musical preference is such a personal matter, it's difficult to study all the different styles and the impact on individuals. However, we can do our own research: experiment with the types of music you're listening to and record the results. Before and after listening, measure your heart rate or blood pressure and keep a journal of your mood.
Researchers are examining the healing effects of music composed specifically in tune with physiological measures and brain wave patterns. If you have specific health concerns, consider having a music therapist design a customized program for you. Ask your natural medicine practitioner for a referral.
Food For Thought...
Organic Wild Mushroom RisottoTraditionally an Autumn favorite, wild mushroom risotto can be enjoyed year-round. It's an excellent meal on its own or can accompany a variety of entrees. Use organic mushrooms and brown rice for added health benefit. Be careful not to over season with butter or salt, as the white wine, stock, and garlic will draw out the rich flavor of the mushrooms.
1 tbsp Dried Porcini Mushrooms *(feel free to use a mix: Cremini, Portobello, Shiitake)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 Onion Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves Finely chopped
15 tbsp Chestnut Mushrooms Sliced
1.5 cups Organic Brown Rice
2/3 cup Dry white wine
4 cups Hot vegetable stock
2 tbsp Fresh Parsley Chopped
1.5 tbsp Butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh Parmesan Grated, to serve
1. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes.*
2. Once soaked, drain the mushrooms well.
3. Gently heat the oil in a large pan, and add the onion and garlic.
4. Fry for 3 minutes or until the onions are softened.
5. Add the chestnut mushrooms and fry for a further 3 minutes, until browned.
6. Once browned, stir in the rice.
7. Add the wine on a gentle heat, constantly stirring until the liquid has been absorbed.
8. Allow the mixture to simmer, and slowly ladle in some of the hot stock while stirring until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is plump.
9. Chop the porcini mushrooms.
10. Add the mushrooms along with the parsley, butter, salt and pepper to the risotto mixture. Shave some Parmesan over the top and serve.
* If using fresh mushrooms, in Step 1, chop and saute in olive oil until nicely browned, remove from heat and set aside. Add the mushrooms in Step 10, once the liquid has been absorbed from the risotto.