At this point, we all have probably heard what we need to do in order to remain healthy and improve our immunity. We have heard, for example, the need for physical activity at least three times a week, the consumption of immune-boosting vitamins like citrus fruits, garlic and broccoli. We have probably also heard the importance of reducing our sugar intake, processed meat and other processed foods. All of these are great things that we should be following!
But, did you know that faith also plays a pivotal part in our health? In fact, lack of religiosity is about as unhealthy as 40 years of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day!
There are many reasons for this correlation between faith and health. For one, faith encourages healthy behavior. A 1997 study by the American Public Health Association found that frequent church attendees had lower mortality rates. “During follow up,” the study claims, “frequent attenders were more likely to stop smoking, increase exercising, increase social contacts, and stay married.”
Faith also reduces stress. Stress is detrimental to our immune system. Many studies have shown that the practice of religion reduces stress. Practices like prayer has been shown to trigger our body’s relaxation response. According to the American Psychological Association, “scientists have shown that such practices lower heart rates, blood pressure and oxygen consumption, and they alleviate the symptoms associated with a vast array of conditions, including hypertension, arthritis, insomnia, depression, infertility, cancer, anxiety, even aging.”
By: Fr. Daniel Pinell