The health benefits of love

Rachel Day
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Image: Getty Images

The modern woman's quest for good health, youth and beauty has seen cosmetic surgery become commonplace, a week's wages spent on eye cream the norm, and drinking weird, furry berry juice from Tibet acceptable.

But according to dating service It's Just Lunch, there is a much easier way to look after yourself and achieve the much sought after healthy glow. Commonly referred to as 'the look of love', the long-term health benefits for those hit by cupid's arrow are just as rewarding as finding that special someone — and range far beyond the benefits of exercise from making love!

Research shows, in many cases, love can heal as powerfully as medicine, so here's some great reasons to fall in love…

Love makes you smarter
Falling in love induces a calming effect on the body and mind by raising levels of nerve growth for about a year. This hormone-like substance helps to restore the nervous system and improves memory by triggering the growth of new brain cells.
(Sify News 2007.)

Love helps fight cancer
A new study from the University of Iowa found that ovarian cancer patients with a strong sense of connection to others and satisfying relationships had more vigorous "natural killer" cell activity at the site of their tumours than those who didn't have those social ties. (These desirable white blood cells kill cancerous cells as part of the body's immune system.)
(Dr Vermon Coleman, author and GP.)

Love benefits your immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems
We may also pay a price if we don't give love. Research shows that loving acts neutralise the kind of negative emotions that adversely affect immune, endocrine and cardiovascular function.
(Stephen Post Ph.D professor of bioethics and religion at Ohio's Case Western University.)

Love is good for your heart
The brain becomes "fired up" when talking to someone it finds attractive and sends impulses to the heart making it pound three times faster than normal. This results in increased blood supply to the body, specifically the cheeks and sexual organs, which gives us the feeling of butterflies in the stomach.
(Dr John Marsden PhD. chartered psychologist and senior lecturer at London's Institute of Psychiatry.)

A study conducted at the University of North Carolina found that couples who spent time in close physical contact, including hugging and talking with each other, had higher levels of oxytocin — the love hormone. Women also benefited from lower blood pressure. The authors speculated that greater oxytocin levels may increase the probability of future positive interactions, so that oxytocin and partner bonding reciprocate in a positive feedback loop.

So go and give someone a hug and help your heart!

Love makes you live longer
Studies have indicated that a lack of love causing social isolation increases the risk of early death by up to five times. Feeling connected is essential to good health.
(Dean Ornish MD, author of Love and Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and Health.)

Research carried out at The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, suggests that selfless love can increase our immunity by de-stressing us as well as possibly extending our life spans and improving our mental health states, including reducing depression, for those who focus their attention on giving or helping others. So why not get out and get involved in a charity project?

Love can lower your cholesterol
Research has shown that expressing your feelings of affection can reduce cholesterol levels. A study in Human Communication Research found that people who wrote about their feelings of affection for significant friends, relatives, and/or romantic partners had significantly lower cholesterol levels than those that didn't.

Love is the elixir of youth
The endorphins produced by the body when in love increase blood flow to the skin, which helps keep it soft and smooth, and reduce the development of wrinkles. The increased supply of essential food and oxygen to skin cells when in love also give the face a pinker, healthier glow.
(Dr Vermon Coleman, author and GP.)

So has sex got anything to do with it?
Well according to Forbes.com yes! Regular sex is associated with many benefits including:

  • Improved sense of smell;
  • Reduced risk of heart disease;
  • Weight loss and improved overall fitness;
  • Reduced depression;
  • Pain-relief;
  • Less-frequent colds and flu;
  • Better bladder control;
  • A healthier prostate;
  • And better teeth … apparently … hmm I leave it up to you to think more about that one.

And marriage?
A study conducted at Harvard University found that married women are 20 percent less likely and married men 100 to 200 percent less likely to die of stress-related causes like heart disease, suicide and cirrhosis of the liver than single people.

So ride the ups and downs and reap the myriad health benefits that being in love deals us.

It's Just Lunch is a fun proactive approach to finding that someone special. As the first date specialists, they arrange quality lunch dates and drinks after work for busy professionals in a discreet, no-pressure setting

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