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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

How Being Happy May Make You Healthier


How Being Happy Makes You Healthier
All words by Daisy Coyle, RD

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”
"The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle said these words more than 2,000 years ago, and they still ring true today.
Happiness is a broad term that describes the experience of positive emotions, such as joy, contentment and satisfaction.
Emerging research shows that being happier doesn’t just make you feel better — it actually brings a host of potential health benefits.
This article explores the ways in which being happy may make you healthier.

Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle
Being happy promotes a range of lifestyle habits that are important for overall health. Happy people tend to eat healthier diets, with higher intakes of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A study of more than 7,000 adults found that those with a positive well-being were 47% more likely to consume fresh fruits and vegetables than their less positive counterparts. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have consistently been associated with a range of health benefits, including lower risks of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Summary: Being happy may help promote a healthy lifestyle. Studies show that happier people are more likely to eat healthier diets and engage in physical activity.

Appears to Boost the Immune System
A healthy immune system is important for overall health. Research has shown that being happier may help keep your immune system strong. This may help reduce your risk of developing colds and chest infections. One study in over 300 healthy people looked at the risk of developing a cold after individuals were given a common cold virus via nasal drops. The least happy people were almost three times as likely to develop the common cold compared to their happier counterparts.
Summary: Being happy may help keep your immune system strong, which might help you fight off the common cold and chest infections.

Helps Combat Stress
Being happy may help reduce stress levels. Normally, excess stress causes an increase in levels of cortisol, a hormone that contributes to many of the harmful effects of stress, including disturbed sleep, weight gain, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. A number of studies demonstrate that cortisol levels tend to be lower when people are happier.
Summary: Stress increases levels of the hormone cortisol, which can cause weight gain, disturbed sleep and high blood pressure. Happy people tend to produce lower levels of cortisol in response to stressful situations.

May Protect Your Heart
Happiness may protect the heart by reducing blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. A study of over 6,500 people over the age of 65 found that positive well-being was linked to a 9% lower risk of high blood pressure. Happiness may also reduce the risk of heart disease, the biggest cause of death worldwide. A number of studies have shown that being happy has been associated with a 13–26% lower risk of heart disease. One long-term of 1,500 adults found that happiness helped protect against heart disease.
Summary: Being happier can help lower blood pressure, which may decrease the risk of heart disease. However, more research is required.

May Lengthen Your Life Expectancy
Being happy may help you live longer. A long-term study published in 2015 looked at the effect of happiness on survival rates in 32,000 people. The risk of death over the 30-year study period was 14% higher in unhappy individuals compared to their happier counterparts.
Summary: Happier people live longer. This may be because they engage in more health-promoting behaviours, such as exercise.

May Help Reduce Pain
Arthritis is a common condition that involves inflammation and degeneration of the joints. It causes painful and stiff joints, and generally worsens with age. A number of studies have found that higher positive well-being may reduce the pain and stiffness associated with the condition. Being happy may also improve physical functioning in people with arthritis. One study in over 1,000 people with painful arthritis of the knee found that happier individuals walked an extra 711 steps each day — 8.5% more than their less happy counterparts. Happiness may also help reduce pain in other conditions. A study in nearly 1,000 people recovering from stroke found that the happiest individuals had 13% lower pain ratings after three months of leaving the hospital.

Summary: Being happy may reduce the perception of pain. It appears to be particularly effective in chronic pain conditions such as arthritis.

Other Ways Being Happy May Make You Healthier

A small number of studies have linked happiness to other health benefits. While these early findings are promising, they need to be backed up by further research to confirm the associations.
May reduce frailty: Frailty is a condition characterized by a lack of strength and balance. A study in 1,500 elderly adults found that the happiest individuals had a 3% lower risk of frailty over the 7-year study period.
May protect against stroke: A stroke occurs when there is a disturbance in blood flow to the brain. A study in older adults found that positive well-being lowered the risk of stroke by 26%.
Summary: Being happy may have some other potential benefits, including reducing the risk of frailty and stroke. However, further research is required to confirm this.

Ways to Increase Your Happiness
Being happy doesn’t just make you feel better — it’s also incredibly beneficial for your health.
Here are six scientifically proven ways to become happier.
Express gratitude: You can increase your happiness by focusing on the things you are grateful for. One way to practice gratitude is to write down three things you are grateful for at the end of each day.
Get active: Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is the most effective type of exercise for increasing happiness. Walking or playing tennis won’t just be good for your physical health, it’ll help boost your mood too.
Get a good night’s rest: Lack of sleep can have a negative effect on your happiness. If you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep, then check out these tips for getting a better night’s sleep.
Spend time outside: Head outside for a walk in the park, or get your hands dirty in the garden. It takes as little as five minutes of outdoor exercise to significantly improve your mood.
Meditate: Regular meditation can increase happiness and also provide a host of other benefits, including reducing stress and improving sleep.
Eat a healthier diet: Studies show that the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the happier you will be. What’s more, eating more fruits and vegetables will also improve your health in the long-term.
Summary: There are a number of ways to increase your happiness. Getting active, expressing gratitude and eating fruits and vegetables are all great ways to help improve your mood.

The Bottom Line
Scientific evidence suggests that being happy may have major benefits for your health. For starters, being happy promotes a healthy lifestyle. It may also help combat stress, boost your immune system, protect your heart and reduce pain.
What’s more, it may even increase your life expectancy. While further research is required to understand how these effects work, there’s no reason you can’t start prioritizing your happiness now. Focusing on the things that make you happy will not only improve your life — it may help extend it too."

Daisy's full article with all information / research links is here

'They say laughter is the best medicine'

We bring a variety of articles, studies etc. plus recent news/views and recipe ideas to this blog, we hope something for everyone to read and enjoy. Please note, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

27 comments:

Tom said...

...for sure!

eileeninmd said...

It all makes sense. Be Happy! Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

only slightly confused said...

It's not always easy to be happy......the benefits make it worth the effort.

Carol Blackburn said...

Great post! I loved reading it today. Yes, it pays to be happy it so many ways.

Catarina said...

Everything makes sense! Food makes me happy, for instance! : ))
It is not easy to reach that level of happiness... but we can always try.
Greetings

Christine said...

Lovely thoughtful advice for us all thanks!

Valerie-Jael said...

This reminds me of a song I used to sing with the kids at school and my grandkids - 'If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands'. Hugs, Valerie

Linda Kay said...

Being happy is definitely a state of mind, controlled by you. But not everyone can take on the attitude if they are plagued by depression or other mental issues. These can also be addressed with medical attention. Don't worry, be happy.....someone should write a song about that! :)

Jo said...

So true, I don't doubt this at all. I think being happy and a positive attitude can make a huge difference.

Mary Kirkland said...

It makes sense but a lot of us with depression have a hard time being happy.

Cheryl mylittlepieceofengland said...

I heartily agree, happiness and positivity xx

Marcie said...

I love this article. It definitely seems true to me. I know I absolutely feel better and healthier when I am happy.

happyone said...

I agree!!
I am blessed with a happy heart, a positive outlook, a healthy body and I'm thankful every day for it.

Lisa Isabella Russo said...

What a wonderful post! I'm happy to learn that happiness is healthy :)...

Missy George said...

I don't think there is any doubt about that!! For sure..

Sandra Cox said...

I definitely agree with us. And lack of sleep can definitely affect my mood.

David Gascoigne said...

It seems to me that being happy is a fundamental cornerstone to well being. If a state of happiness is reinforced by a good diet then one is more likely to have a fulfilling, active life.

peppylady (Dora) said...

If it wasn't for humor I know I would have bang my head against the wall....
Coffee is on

Haddock said...

Agree with what Aristotle said.
There are so many ways to keep oneself happy.

Lynn said...

I definitely think that happiness has an effect on our health. Lots of good points there.

baili said...

I am so glad that you shared this wonderful article dear Jan.
you made my day ,actually in morning when after reading all the post i was about to comment light went off and my internet device shut downed ,so it is 5pm almost evening and again i am here to say that you as i consider it "post of the year" on your blog if you don't mind.

Happiness is key to healthy life and we learn this when our stupid selfmade sorrows and problems eat up our health .

Now i know why i suffered with stomach ulcer ,because since beginning i faced stress from environment whether before or after marriage
. First brother and his wife and later mother in law .

But i am so grateful that at least now i know how i can keep myself out of this .

Lois said...

What a wonderful article! Being happy sometimes takes a little work, but it is worth it.

Magic Love Crow said...

A great post!!!

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

I absolutely agree with you!

Conniecrafter said...

I totally agree with all of this, I do believe we treat ourselves and our bodies much better when we are happy. I also write down 3 things I am thankful for each day, helps put things in perspective!

Kezzie said...

This is super interesting! I definitely think Sleep deprivation is my chief cause of gloom and stress last year. In which case, I am off to bed!x

Snowbird said...

It's a fact, the happier you are the longer you live. Laughter is a cure for everything. Lovely post.xxx