We all know the standard health warnings; eat 5 pieces of fruit a day, avoid foods high in fat and excessively sugary drinks. Do regular exercise once or twice a week. Don’t smoke, don’t binge drink. But the following studies have all been conducted by scientists and experts in their fields, and they have some ‘interesting’ findings on things that can lead to a healthier life. You probably won’t believe them.
Female Church goers live longer
A new study by professors at Harvard Chan School of Public Health found that women who attended religious services more than once a week were 30% less likely to die after a 16-year-follow-up. On the face of it, it seems a miracle. How can going to church make you live longer, and be at less risk from mortality than non-believers you ask? Tyler VanderWeele, Professor of Epidemiology at the School said “Part of the benefit seems to be that attending religious services increases social support, discourages smoking, decreases depression, and helps people develop a more optimistic or hopeful outlook on life.” The study looked at data from nearly 75,000 women who participated in the health study between 1992 and 2012. According to the study on U.S nurses, women who attended church more than once a week lived on average five months longer. It’s fascinating to think your faith can have such an impact on your physical health and your life expectancy. Whether this is true in males is unclear, but surely the same goes for men, shouldn’t it?
Prayers reduced cravings
Following on from the above, here’s yet another science and spiritual healing finding. New research from NYU Langone Medical Center shows that recovering alcoholics who recited a prayer before viewing images that simulate drinking behaviour had less craving for alcohol than those who didn’t. The scientists used brain imaging to determine increased brain activity and reduced craving in those that prayed. The study was on a group of long-term Alcoholics Anonymous members in America. Dr Galanter, a senior author in the study believes this reduction in craving is based on a “spiritual awakening” in AA, which marks the turning point for members who take on a different attitude toward drinking. This study focused primarily on AA and the long-term effects of attending the support group on its members. Whether it can be applied to every day cravings like chocolate and cake is not clear, but it might be worth sparing a prayer or two to see if it works for you.
Drink a beer a day to protect from heart attacks
Yes, you read that right, Italian researchers have scientifically proven that drinking 1.4 pints of beer a day can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by on average 25%. Nobody needs an excuse to crack open a cold beer but this review of 150 studies conducted by the Mediterranean Neurological Institute recommended two small (330ml) cans of beer a day is not likely to damage your health. This fascinating study also found beer can offer health benefits similar to wine such as protection from heart diseases and raising levels of “good” cholesterol. British lecturer in epidemiology, Dr. Annie Britton, cautioned the interpretation of this paper. Saying “The cardio protective benefit that is attributed to alcohol, including beer, may be over-estimated.”
Forget carrots, eating oranges can help you see better
Are you ready for another study? This one was published in the Journal of Ophthalmology which analysed the eyesight of over 300 pairs of female twin pensioners in their 60s, over a 10-year period. The experts from King’s College London, found that elderly people who ate fruit and vegetables high in vitamin C were a third less likely to develop cataracts. It is believed that a higher intake of vitamin C can protect the eyes from cataract progression, as the fluid that bathes the lens contains high levels of the vitamin. So foods such as oranges, broccoli and potatoes which are dense in vitamin C are better than carrots. 100 grams of an average orange provides 53.2mg of vitamin C, whereas, the same amount of carrot gives only 5.9 mg.