By Blogger Linda Ross
My dental hygienist looked puzzled during a recent routine visit. After cleaning my teeth, she reviewed my file. Finally she said, “Your tissue is of someone younger; your teeth are so healthy – no cavities in the four years I’ve been seeing you. You must have great genes.” I told her, “It’s not genes. I do take care of my teeth, but I’m also a spiritually minded person. Each day I endeavor to live my faith, and sincerely believe it has a good effect on my life and health.”
I became curious to see if there were any studies to back up my convictions. What a surprise to find something so specific:
In June of this year, the Department of Community Dentistry, Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel, published a study to “explain the association between religiosity and dental caries [cavities].” Those who identified themselves as religious had significantly fewer cavities.
While this is only one study, it is in line with numerous studies over the last few decades that indicate a regular practice of prayer and/or church attendance consistently improves health.
Perhaps Shakespeare, that great chronicler of human ways and means, also guessed at the connection between our thought and our experience. He wrote for Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
By Blogger Linda Ross
My work at times affords a front row seat for some interesting observations in the arenas of spirituality and health. Yesterday was one of those moments. I was included in a meeting with a Health Care consultant, an attorney experienced in the Health Care and Managed Care industry. He commented that spiritually centered groups are the healthiest populations.
A book published last year, based on a life long study of participants, came to a similar conclusion.
“The Longevity Project: surprising discoveries for health and long life” examines the landmark results of a group of 1,500 Californians first studied as children in 1921, then followed for the rest of their lives. It reports on 8 decades of data that included a focus on religiosity.
Dr. Howard S. Friedman, a co-author of the book, said he is often asked if praying leads to better health and longer life.
In a column last year for The Huffington Post Dr. Friedman wrote about some of the findings. Here is an excerpt: “What about spirituality? We did uncover various hints of the health importance of a deeper meaning in life. Those who developed catastrophizing, negative thought patterns were inclined to precipitous actions, injuries, accidents, suicides and related risks… You may have heard the old saw that says ‘The best of men cannot suspend their fate; the good die early, and the bad die late.’ This turned out to be myth! Instead, we sum it all up by saying, it is the good ones who can actually help shape their fate; the bad die early, and the good do great.”
Intrigued? You can join in an ongoing discussion Dr. Friedman has set up on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/h8NzQS.
Linda Ross is a Christian Science practitioner living in Connecticut.