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Romancing health

Illustration by REY RIVERA

Love makes the world go ’round, as the saying goes. Once again, we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day or the love month.  Did you know that the person after whom Valentine’s Day was named was a saint who was persecuted as a Christian by the Roman Emperor Claudius 11?  Before his execution, St. Valentine was reported to have performed a miracle by healing Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer Asterius, thus converting his jailer’s daughter and 44 members of Asterius’s household to believe in Jesus.  In addition, Valentine defied the emperor by performing clandestine Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry as the emperor believed it would interfere with his soldiers’ performance at war.  According to legend, in order to remind the persecuted of God’s love and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians, Valentine cut out hearts from parchment, giving them to the soldiers and persecuted Christians. 

It is often said that love conquers all.  That includes our health because definitely nothing heals better emotionally, biochemically, physically, and mentally than love.  It is like a drug that heals but also has its side effects, such as obsession.  Romantic love gives us a high that is often addictive.  Often, we bask in the warm embrace of caring, gratitude, comfort, and a sense of all-around well-being, setting a complex series of events within our bodies that generally brings forth better health.   Adrenaline-like neurochemicals gush forth.  Fireworks explode, you’re afloat and you see stars.  There’s an increase in dopamine and norepinephrine (chemical cousins of amphetamines), making lovers feel good.   Oxytocin and  adrenaline  production is elevated, too.  This makes one’s heart race and keeps the senses alert. 

Here are some health benefits of love:

• Lower cholesterol levels.

• Increased youth hormones — levels of antiaging hormones DHEA, producing elevated feelings of youth and vitality. 

• Pain relief and a stronger immune system.  It is not just romantic love but showing care and concern for others provides health benefits such as less frequent colds and flu, and increased threshold for pain.

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Research shows that loving acts neutralize the kind of negative emotions that adversely affect the immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular functions.

Another study from the University of Iowa found that ovarian cancer patients with a strong sense of connection to others had more vigorous natural killer cell activity   (desirable white blood cells that kill cancerous cells) at the site of  tumors than those who didn’t have social ties.

• Lowering of cortisol, the stress hormone.  Hugging and hand holding release the hormone oxytocin, which lowers the levels of stress  hormones in the body, reducing blood pressure, improving mood, and increasing tolerance for pain

• Love is good for the heart/body. One’s brain is fired up just by talking to someone you find attractive, sending impulses to the heart and making it pound three times faster than normal, resulting in increased blood supply to the body, specifically to the cheeks and sexual organs.

• Regular sexual intercourse for men promotes prostate health by reducing fluid buildup in the prostate gland. For women, an increase in estrogen levels occurs which helps keep the heart healthy

• Love makes one smarter. It induces a calming effect on the body and mind by raising levels of nerve growth, thus improving  concentration. It also helps restore the nervous system and improves memory by triggering the growth of new brain cells.

• Weight loss and improved overall fitness.

• Reduced depression.

• Better bladder control.

• Love makes one live longer.  Studies have indicated that lack of love causes social isolation that increases the risk of early death by up to five times.  Feeling connected is definitely essential to good health.

Loving someone tends to encourage preventive care, reinforce healthy behaviors such as exercising, eating the right kind of food, etc. and keeping away from unhealthy habits such as heavy drinking and smoking. 

Love with all your heart because years of research have shown that there is a good symbiotic relationship between health and wellness and being madly and hopelessly in love.

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For questions, call 09174976261, 09282302825 or 484-7821; e-mail gc_beltran@yahoo.com.

 

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