Could experiencing a range of positive emotions actually improve your health and reduce disease risk?
According to a recent study, yes, certain emotions lower inflammation … and therefore, disease levels as well.
C’mon, Get Happy: The Link Between Your Emotions and Inflammation
Previous research has proven a link between positive emotions, happiness levels and levels of inflammation in the body. But this small study, published in the journal Emotion, found that people who experience a diverse range of positive emotions might reduce systemic inflammation in their bodies, which could reduce their risk of chronic diseases. (1)
Here’s how the study worked. The researchers asked 175 participants aged 40 to 65 to keep a log of their emotions for 30 days. The people recording how often and how strongly they experienced 32 different emotions: 16 positive, like being excited, proud or cheerful and 16 negative, like feeling irritable, sluggish or upset. Six months later, each participant was tested for markers of inflammation and had blood samples taken.
The results surprised the researchers. The folks who experienced a greater variety of the 16 positive emotions on a day-to-day basis — enthusiastic, interested, determined, excited, amused, inspired, alert, active, strong, proud, attentive, happy, relaxed, cheerful, at ease, calm — had lower inflammation than the rest of the group, even after accounting for body mass index, demographic characteristics, medical conditions and other factors.
And the lower levels of inflammation held true even when compared to people who had experienced positive emotions for a similar amount of days, but had a smaller range of them. When it came to lowering inflammation, positive emotional diversity mattered more than simply feeling happy.
You might expect that the opposite would hold true for negative emotions then — that people who experienced a wider range of negative emotions might have increasingly higher levels of inflammation. Interestingly, that wasn’t the case. Diversity in emotions mattered only when they were positive.
So what is it about the range of emotions that might reduce inflammation and contribute to a reduced risk of chronic disease? According to the study’s researchers, experiencing a variety of feelings — not just positive, but also ones like calm or relaxed — might have a beneficial effect on our health, both physical and mental, by “preventing an overabundance or prolonging of any one emotion from dominating an individuals’ emotional life.” In other words, not fixating on just one feeling, even if it is positive, keeps us healthier.
And while this is the first study that’s looked at the independent role of positive and negative emotions on inflammation, other studies have found that experiencing multiple types of positive emotions are essential for fueling psychological resilience and improving social connections with others, which could slow disease progression or improve physical health. (2)
Why Inflammation Matters
Lower levels of inflammation are critical in reducing the risk of chronic diseases. It’s believed that an overactive immune system is what causes inflammation. See, certain foods and environmental toxins build up in the body, stimulating your immune system. In turn, it unleashes defense cells and hormones on the body.
But because you’re not fighting the common cold, the immune systemremains on high alert and in high activity, damaging tissues in the process.
Chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, asthma and Crohn’s disease are all linked to inflammation in the body. By reducing inflammation, we lower the risk of getting these diseases. And if emotions lower inflammation, then even better, as it’s a natural way of tackling this issue.
Certain Emotions Lower Inflammation — How to Develop Them
Most of us know when we’re in a bad mood or if we’re feeling particularly pleased with life. But how do we get more of those 16 emotions — enthusiastic, interested, determined, excited, amused, inspired, alert, active, strong, proud, attentive, happy, relaxed, cheerful, at ease and calm — into our lives?
1. Add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet.
Though feeling different types of positive feelings helps lower inflammation, certain foods can do that as well. And I have a sneaky suspicion that once you have to spend less time suffering through inflammation-related diseases like irritable bowel disease and diabetes, you’ll have more energy to be active and inspired.
What are the best anti-inflammatory foods? Leafy green veggies, celery, broccoli, blueberries, pineapple, salmon, coconut oil, chia seeds and turmeric all top my list. These foods are rich in antioxidants, minerals and essential fatty acids. They help regulate our immune systems and keep us healing our best.
2. Say a little prayer (or meditation).
Healing prayer or meditation is a powerful tool and embracing spirituality, in whatever form that means to you, can diversify the range of positive emotions you’re feeling, and put you on the path to reduced chronic disease risk and lowered inflammation.
When we’re stressed, our body’s natural response is to become inflamed. Carving time out each day to meditate or pray can help you reduce stress and put things in perspective, ushering in feelings of calm, ease and relaxation.
Meditating or praying also allows us to tune into our sense of purpose, or those things we feel strongly about achieving, whether it’s watching your kids walk at their graduation or authoring a paper in your field. In turn, you might find yourself feeling more inspired for what’s to come, proud of what you’ve already achieved or determined to set a goal and reach it.
If you’re unsure about how to get started, this 5-step approach to guided meditation can help.
3. Hit the mat.
It’s time to start practicing those asanas. If you’re looking to broaden your positive emotions, yoga should be high on your list. Yoga changes your brain. It releases the body’s “chill out” neurotransmitter, also known as gamma-aminobutryic acid (GABA). When you’re practicing yoga, the brain releases more GABA, which in turn reduces anxiety and brings on feelings of calm.
Yoga also increases gray matter in the brain, which is a good thing. As we age and gray matter decreases, we’re at higher risk of memory impairment, emotional problems and decreased cognitive function. And in mild cases of depression, yoga can even act as a natural antidepressant. (3)
Best of all, there are all types of yoga to suit your needs or interests, from pumping vinyasa flow classes to more chilled out yin classes. No matter which one you choose, you’ll reap the benefits of feeling active, alert and less stressed.
4. Set goals to reach your dreams.
Setting goals and getting them down on paper is an underrated way of transforming your mental health. You can go as small or as big as you’d like when setting goals, like running a 10k or opening up your own business.
The most important part of goal setting is deciding what it is you’re going to achieve and how you’re going to get there. You don’t want a goal that’s completely unattainable, like walking the moon, or is going to cause you tons of extra stress. Instead, you want a goal that will require some stretching and growing, but that can also be broken down into smaller action items, so you celebrate your hard work as you reach milestones throughout the journey.
5. Choose happiness.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But you can actively make small choices to boost your range of positive emotions. For example, taking five minutes each evening to jot down three things you’re grateful for can help you feel inspired and enthusiastic about life, while giving someone a compliment at work or raising your hand to take on a tough project can make you feel proud.
Being happy and positive doesn’t always come naturally but, like with most things, the more we practice cultivating those feelings, the easier to feel they’ll become.
- For the first time, researchers have identified that there’s a link between not just positive feelings, but a range of them, and reduced inflammation. Yes, emotions lower emotion. (Reducing inflammation leads to a lower risk of chronic disease.)
- Researchers looked at 16 different positive emotions: enthusiastic, interested, determined, excited, amused, inspired, alert, active, strong, proud, attentive, happy, relaxed, cheerful, at ease, calm.
- Experiencing a wide range of these emotions lead to less inflammation than groups that had a smaller range of emotions, negative or positive.
- Negative emotions didn’t elicit the same response; that is, feeling a range of negative emotions won’t lead to more inflammation.
- Through activities like adding more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet, engaging in prayer or meditation and practicing yoga can help you cultivate a variety of positive emotions naturally.
A quick note from our founder-
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d) Hip Flexors
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To begin, I apologize for the dark nature of today's email.
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Imagine a rotting corpse draped over your body from head to toe...
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In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
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Is Bread Really the Staff of Life… or the Stuff of Disease?
For most us, there are few foods more comforting than bread.
Fluffy biscuits, crusty baguettes, flaky croissants… even a simple slice of toast topped with melted butter can taste like heaven.
And that smell… few scents are quite as pleasant as fresh bread baking in the oven.
But there is a lot of confusion as to where bread fits into a healthy diet.
The Bible practically commands followers to eat it: “Give us this day our daily bread…” The government put it at the base of the food pyramid. And for centuries, it has been called “the staff of life.”
Of course, there are some who disagree…
Well-known cardiologist, Dr. William Davis, calls wheat “the perfect chronic poison.”
And for a poison, we sure eat lots of it…
The average American consumes 55 pounds of wheat flour every year, making refined flour the #1 source of calories in the American Diet – a situation that nutrition expert Chris Kresser describes as, “a public health catastrophe.”
So, what is the truth about bread and wheat?
- Is it the perfect poison… or an essential daily food?
- Is “gluten-free” bread better for you than regular bread?
- And can you still eat bread… while maintaining a lean body and optimal health?
The answers to these questions may surprise you!
Be sure to read #5 – the biggest surprise of all!
Recently, Doctor of Naturopathy, weight-loss expert and best-selling Amazon author Liz Swann Miller, creator of the Red Smoothie Detox Factor, revealed 2 of the secrets to easy, steady weight loss. Secrets the big food corporations do their best to hide from us.
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You probably know most of us eat too much processed food. What you may not know is that it’s full of toxic chemicals and substandard, dirt-cheap ingredients designed to make you eat more…and force you to gain weight.
Here’s how it works.
“That stuff is just a lot of calories your body can’t use,” Liz told me, “Some are poison. And all these foods are stripped of the anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories that help your body detox. The result? Your body expends huge amounts of calories to eliminate some toxins—the rest, it stores in your fat to protect you. This is why most people are hungry all the time. They’re not getting energy they need.”
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Liz paused, then dropped the bombshell.
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Liz continued: “You’re drinking smoothies packed with phytonutrients, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories that pull toxins out of you like a tractor beam. Allowing your body to burn those toxin-filled fat stores… and releasing tremendous amounts of stored energy.”
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Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
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5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.