To stay healthy, you probably know that you need to eat right, get plenty of exercise and rest, and avoid bad habits such as smoking.
But, it might surprise you to learn that what you believe in can have a big impact on your health and longevity.
“There have been a lot of studies, and more are coming out all of the time, that show how patients with strong spirituality can improve their health from a variety of chronic conditions, like hypertension, heart disease, recovery from surgery and more,” said Dr. Michael Torosian, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and co-author of the book, Spirit to Heal.
“Spirituality is where people find meaning in their life. It’s something higher than themselves, though not necessarily attached to religion,” said Patricia Megregian, a board-certified chaplain and executive director of the Integrative Medicine Initiative at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
Wherever your spirituality comes from, research indicates there are real health benefits:
- People with high levels of religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone the body releases in response to stress.
- Spirituality and the practice of religion have recently been associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Those who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who don’t. Regular participation lowers mortality rate by about 12 percent a year.
- People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation feel more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith.
- Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.
What’s not known is exactly how spirituality or a positive outlook can cause these changes. According to Torosian, there are two popular theories. The first is known as the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decreases the body’s stress response. The other theory is that spirituality can affect immune-system function.
“Spirituality, faith, church attendance improves immune function in ways that can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells,” he said.
“When it comes to health, when the body feels safe and is at ease, the nervous system is able to quiet and be more normal. Then the immune system is able to function better,” said Megregian. “When the body is safe and feels safe, all of its other functions can help combat disease.”
Torosian added, “As a surgeon, I see cancer patients all the time trying to deal with a devastating diagnosis. Those with a strong faith seem to do much better and handle it better. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.”
Dr. Keith and Laurie Nemec’s comments on spirituality can boost your health.
Very interesting study again linking body, mind and spirit on what they have consistently shown that people with strong spirituality can improve their health from a variety of chronic health conditions. What the studies have shown are people with high levels of religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses, and again cortisol is a hormone that the body releases in response to stress. Spirituality and practice of religion have recently been associated with lower progression of Alzheimer ’s disease. Those who have regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who don’t. Regular participation lowers mortality rate by 12% a year. People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation feel more confident and perceive greater improvement in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith. And increased levels of spirituality or religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habits. According to the research they said that spirituality, faith and church attendance improve immune function in ways that can be measured. Like an increase of white blood cells. So this shows how one affects the other.
Now it is important to look at the difference between faith and religion. Faith is believing what God has put in your heart and taking the action steps and walking in that direction knowing that God is leading and directing you. It is a oneness with God, it is apart from a religious activity or service, or congregation. This is personal. So when we live a life of the heart, following what God has put in our hearts this is faith and this is the potential to reverse not only all physical, but all mental and emotional challenges as well. With faith, all things are possible. Faith is the opposite of fear. Faith is of the heart, fear is of the mind. Fear is an emotion that is produced when we are future thinking. So, the difference between that and religion, how religion improves health is just because religion is a comfort of being with other people of common beliefs. So, if I go to a religious service and with friends that believe the same as I do, there is a comfort in that, there is a comfort in the social aspects of it, which also can produce beneficial effects in health, but again, the thing that will transform a persons life the most, and reverse the most major diseases, and produce the highest level of total health of body, mind and spirit is not religion, but it is true faith. True faith, following what God has put in the heart, instead of what the world system has put into the head. And the basis of all the total health being established in the body is the
Seven Basic Steps to Total Health™.
So to summarize, the study shows yes, spirituality and religion can balance body, mind, emotions and spirit. And balance the whole system, but truly it is the faith that brings you to the highest level because the faith is walking out what God has put into the heart, instead of what the world system has programmed into the head. Whereas religion will have beneficial effects in health, but more so because of being amongst others in a common group, a social setting, feeling the support of each other. Faith is feeling the total support and connection and oneness with God.