By: Dr. Michael Rosenbaum
Want to do something good for your health today?
Give your sweetheart a kiss. Hug your child with all the love in your heart.
Of course, you may know this kind of thing feels good. But recent research has shown that it’s more than a feel-good moment. Acting out your affection actually does good for you.
Kory Floyd, a professor at the Hugh Downs School of Communication at University of Arizona, has conducted several studies demonstrating how taking action to show your love can keep your heart healthier. In one study, for example, Floyd demonstrated kissing lowered your cholesterol and decreased stress levels.
But Floyd is careful to explain that his research isn’t exclusively about kissing. He notes that saying, “I love you”, giving a hug, writing a letter or even doing a chore for someone you care about brings on the same response.
The key is to go beyond feeling love to showing your love.
Floyd’s research adds to a substantial amount of evidence that taking care of our relationships may be one of the best things we can do for our health.
Here’s some more affection-inspiring evidence:
Loving Marriages Keep Hearts Strong
Consistently, research shows that people who tie the knot – and sustain the knot with a healthy relationship – are healthier.
For older women who have gone through menopause, heart disease becomes a big risk – bigger then it is for men. It is the leading cause of death for women and particularly older women. But marriage can counter this. Several studies have shown that older women reduce their risk for hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure when they are satisfactorily married.
And it’s not just women who enjoy these benefits from a strong marriage . . .
For men over 50, being single is one of the biggest health hazards. An article published in The Journal for Men’s Health in 2013 demonstrated that men who were unmarried or divorced had 250% higher risk for mortality.
And again, the quality of the relationship counts too. In another study, men who talked more to their wives were less likely to have a recurrence of heart problems after an initial heart attack.
While the conclusions are incontrovertible due to the number of studies supporting this, the reasons why are less clear. However, it’s hard to argue against the fact that a good marriage counters loneliness and reduces stress. And clearly, when you have a partner who cares about you, they’re more likely to care about your health and remind you to take care of it.
But it’s not just your heart health that benefits from a loving commitment in your life.
Strong Relationships Result In Strong Immune Systems
Both men and women who are in a healthy relationship consistently show healthier immune responses and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Husband and wife team, immunologist Ronald Glaser and clinical psychologist Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, have done several studies together looking at immune health, stress and relationships.
In one study the Kiecolt-Glasers conducted, married couples attended two different kinds of "counseling" sessions. The first session provided supportive counseling and the second session had them reflect on a source of conflict. Before each session, they gave married couples a little shot in the arm that created a small blister wound. After each session, they measured how long it took for the body to heal the wound.
The researchers found that the wounds healed more slowly after the session on conflict than the session that offered support. With couples who seemed particularly hostile towards each other, their wounds healed 60% more slowly than the couples who had a good rapport. They also had higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha in circulation than the more peaceful couples did, particularly after the conflict session.
Want A Powerful Prescription For Good Health? Love
As a doctor I often have to tell people to do things they don’t want to do. Sometimes, the prescriptions I hand out cost money or even have some undesirable side effects along with the benefits.
However, this prescription is one I can give without any reservations. The benefits for your health are clearly tremendous. And the benefits for your life can’t be counted!
Want to do something profound for your health? Strengthen your relationships. Show someone how much you care about them. In a word . . . Love.
About Dr. Michael E Rosenbaum, MD
Dr. Michael E. Rosenbaum is a 35-year veteran and widely recognized pioneer in the field of nutritional medicine, alternative healthcare and medical acupuncture. As one of America's most respected experts in natural health and healing, Dr. Rosenbaum has been a frequent lecturer to professional medical groups and has participated in numerous television and radio talk shows. He is also an esteemed member of the Sun Chlorella Advisory Board, which helps guide the medical innovation behind Sun Chlorella products.
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Boudreau D. Study: Expressing Love Can Improve Your Health. Arizona State University website. Feb 8, 2013. Viewed 1/12/14 at https://asunews.asu.edu/20130208_affection
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