By Dr. Maoshing Ni
Love is the most powerful emotion you will ever experience, and studies show that while you are feeling it, endorphins and immune cells are produced in great number, boosting your health and longevity. For Valentine’s Day, share love and health with the special people in your life and lengthen your years.
1. Love = a Healthy Heart
Many studies have shown that relationships play a role in heart health. A study from the University of Texas Research, conducted with rabbits, found that love can reduce plaque buildup in your arteries, helping reduce overall risk of heart attack. In this study, rabbits were fed an artery-blocking diet, and some of the rabbits received love and affection while the others received none. The surprising results revealed that the rabbits given tender loving care had 60% less plaque buildup than their counterparts.
2. Get an Immune Boost with Love
Love in your life might just save you from the flu. One study showed that a five-minute episode of feeling genuine care or compassion enhanced the whole immune system, causing a gradual climb in secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA), your body’s natural antibody against colds, flu, and other invading germs. Even watching movies about love or altruism, petting a fluffy animal pal, and practicing selfless service for others has been shown to increase levels of IgA.
3. Keep in Touch with Your Loved Ones
Human touch, long recognized as a powerful healing technique, increases your body’s production of endorphins, growth hormone, and DHEA, all of which lengthen your life span and lower the negative impact of stress. In fact, studies have found that unconscious patients who are regularly touched recover faster than those who are not touched. Researchers have also observed that orphaned babies stop growing and even die from the lack of touch and love. So hug, cuddle, and massage your loved ones to live longer.
4. Connect with Friends to Increase Your Lifespan
Humans have depended on one another for survival since time immemorial, and indeed, many studies have found that even today, people rich in social and community support are more likely to live longer than those with weak social connections. Even people with unhealthy lifestyles tend to live longer than people lacking in social and community support. According to a study recently put out by Brigham Young University, spending time with friends has an extremely positive effect on health and can cut your risk of an early death in half. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, the research team’s head said that lacking in social relationships “was equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.” If you find yourself spending most of your time alone, reach out.
Offer to babysit for family members or join groups of people who share similar interests and gather together in person. Feel your presence in the world and make it felt by others.
5. Prescription for Longevity: A Happy Marriage
Research has confirmed that happily married couples live, on average, four years longer than single people. According to one study, nearly 100 percent of male centenarians are married or have only recently been widowed. Psychologists attribute the increased life span to the sense of interconnectedness with another human being. Studies have indicated that a happy marriage improves your mood, positively affects your dietary decisions, and leads to a larger social network of friends — three major factors of longevity. People in a marriage also tend to take better care of each other; and feeling that someone would care for you in times of illness appears to increase the sense of security about the future, cutting back on stress.
Studies suggest that the longer a marriage lasts, the greater the rewards. These days, there are many forms of spouse-like relationships that may benefit in similar ways. But not all relationships positively affect our health. Other research has found that marriage problems may increase risk for heart disease by 34% and tend to result in a lower survival rate in women with breast cancer.
Bonus tip: If you have recently ended a relationship, you can strengthen your spirit with affirmations and invocations.
6. Healthy Loving Lengthens Your Life Span
Healthy sex, nature’s fountain of youth, raises your levels of endorphins, DHEA, and growth hormone, which increase longevity. At the same time, sex lowers levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which decrease your life span. A Duke University study showed that women who were happy with their sex lives could live up to eight years longer compared with women who were indifferent to their sex lives. While healthy loving adds years to your life, it also takes years off your face, making you actually look younger. Studies show that people who are highly satisfied with their sex life looked 4 to 7 years younger than their peers. This results from reduced stress, greater happiness, and better sleep. So before you invest in a costly makeover, try improving your sex life.
If love equals health, how to manifest love? Begin by loving yourself. For your relationships, share your time, energy, and self with your loved ones. Look for ways to give back and make them happy. For instance, you might cook a meal or do the dishes as a pleasant surprise. Or you might send them a card, listing their many special qualities. It does not need to be elaborate or expensive, but it should show that you care and appreciate them. As you give freely of your love, you will receive meaningful love in return.