People’s personality types are well known to be associated with both risk of death and longer lifespans. And that certainly makes sense from a mental and emotional standpoint. If you’re a risk taker, for example, that can certainly affect how long you live (and your chances of winning a “Darwin Award,” for example).
But now, a new study shows there’s also a physical connection between your personality and longevity. And, like so many other aspects of health, it has to do with your immune system.
Researchers from the U.K., U.S., and Germany analyzed data on 957 adults over a 14-year period. Specifically, they looked at two immune system biological markers: C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). These are two clear indicators of chronic inflammation, which is lurking behind many chronic diseases—as I often report. (See the sidebar for more.)
The researchers also gathered data on personality traits, including conscientiousness—which they defined as being organized, responsible, and capable of self-control. Prior studies showed that people with high levels of conscientiousness can have as much as a 40 percent reduced risk of death.
In the new study, people who scored higher on the trait of conscientiousness also had lower levels of IL-6. And the researchers concluded that being more conscientiousness lead to less chronic inflammation—and therefore, a longer lifespan.
This link may be a common denominator in the mind-body connection demonstrated by the new science of psychoneuroimmunology—which shows that emotional states, feelings, and thoughts influence hormonal and immune processes throughout the body, including inflammation.
In general, researchers want to understand the mechanisms behind why and how certain things work in the body—and understanding influences on the immune system is key to that discovery. Fortunately, this study opens up the opportunity for more research on personality types and health outcomes—as well as which kinds of mind-body treatments work best for certain personality types.
My own research on this topic was published as a chapter in my basic medical textbook, Fundamentals of Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine, 6th edition, and in two other consumer books, Your Emotional Type and Overcoming Acute and Chronic Pain: Keys to Treatment Based on Your Emotional Type. (All of which can be found under the “books” tab of my website, www.DrMicozzi.com.)
These books tell you all you need to know about how your personality impacts your health, and all of the popular mind-body approaches that may work best for you.
SIDEBAR: Natural ways to thwart the No. 1 cause of disease and aging
Of course, this new research is great news for those of us who are naturally conscientious. But what else can you do to combat inflammation and protect yourself from its potentially lethal consequences?
First and foremost, as always, your diet makes all the difference. Foods high in artificial fats, preservatives, processed carbs, and sugars promote chronic inflammation. That’s why I recommend cutting them from your diet, and enjoying all of the delicious, healthy, wholesome foods in a Mediterranean-type diet—like full-fat dairy (milk, eggs, cheese, and yogurt), grass-fed and -finished meat (including lamb), wild-caught fish and seafood, fresh produce, seeds, nuts, beans, and olive oil.
Next, you should find natural ways to help reduce your stress. After all, stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, also promote chronic inflammation.
So in addition to learning more about which mind-body treatments may work best for your personality type, I also recommend: meditation or acupuncture, practicing mindfulness mediation (including “forest bathing”, where you soak in all the benefits of Nature around you), and/or consuming alcohol and wine in moderation, as part of your healthy, balanced diet. (I recommend just one to three glasses, depending on your body size and other circumstances.)
Last but not least, since chronic inflammation is often very subtle, without many clear-cut, telltale symptoms, be sure to ask your doctor to start regularly measuring your levels of:
- B-12 vitamin
- Vitamin D
For more remarkably fast and easy ways to reverse the No. 1 cause of disease and aging, check out my innovative, online learning tool, my Protocol for Eliminating Deadly Inflammation. To learn more, or to enroll, click here or call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV3X701.
“Personality pathways to mortality: Interleukin-6 links conscientiousness to mortality risk.” Brain Behav Immun. 2021 Mar;93:238-244.