This Month In Health
  • Popcorn Lung and Electronic Cigarettes
    When hundreds of microwave popcorn factory workers developed a serious, chronic lung condition called bronchiolitis obliterans (a.k.a. popcorn lung), the cause was traced back to inhalation of the buttery-flavored chemical diacetyl. Today, you can find diacetyl in many of the flavors used in electronic cigarettes. Does this mean that folks who smoke e-cigarettes are at risk for popcorn lung? Keep reading to find out. Read >>
  • Obesity: Anything But Harmless
    If you’re overweight, you know some of the obvious the trouble it can cause. Clothes don’t fit right, you feel self-conscious, and you have no energy. If you’re tired of waiting to lose weight, don’t wait any longer. Here are a few reasons to get started on the path to a thinner you today. Read >>
  • People Need People
    Having friends is good for your emotional and mental well being as well as your physical health. Multiple studies show that people who have close family, friends, and community support are happier, live longer, and have fewer health problems. Read >>
  • Slim Pickings
    After years of yo-yo dieting and trying multiple diet programs, pills, and potions, you’ve had enough. Your health is at risk, you’re tired of being overweight, and you want your life back. You and your doctor have come to the decision it’s time to consider weight-loss surgery. Which one is for you? Read >>
Health and Fitness News

People Need People

Having friends is good for your health. Here’s how.

You know it’s good to have friends. After all, what would life be like without people who care about you, who are with you through thick and thin, who give you advice, and with whom you can laugh or cry? Without friends, life loses some of its joy and purpose.

It turns out friends are more important than you may think. Having friends is good for your emotional and mental well being as well as your physical health. Multiple studies show that people who have close family, friends, and community support are happier, live longer, and have fewer health problems.

Why?

There are several theories for why friends have such a powerful effect on your health. Chronic stress takes its toll on your body, compromising your immune system, heart, and mental health. Having a strong support system is one thing that helps you cope with stress. Studies show people with friends have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol circulating in their bodies.

Good friends encourage you to avoid bad habits and take up healthy ones.

Drinking too much? Tempted to take up smoking again or quit your diet? Friends can help keep you accountable. Having a close network of friends also boosts your self-esteem. When people genuinely care about you, you have a greater desire to take care of your health.

How?

You may wonder how friends can make you a healthier person. Studies show there are quite a few ways.

Friends can improve your mental health. If you have supportive, caring friends, you’re less likely to deal with depression and anxiety. People who are lonely and have no one calling to check in and no one to go out with often feel hopeless, purposeless, and sad. Feeling a sense of belonging and community also lowers your risk for dementia and cognitive decline. It’s not being alone but feeling lonely that’s associated with dementia.

When the immune system is compromised due to stress or anxiety, inflammation is more prevalent in the body, putting you at increased risk for all sorts of diseases. Without social support you’re more likely to have heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, type 2 diabetes, or arthritis. One study found that people without a close network of friends had more than double the risk of high blood pressure.

The effect of friends on your waist can actually go either way. Sometimes strong social ties are associated with a lower body mass index (BMI), other times friends influence you to put on the pounds. It depends on the type of people you hang out with. If you spend a lot of time with friends who eat poorly and sit around all day, then your chances of adopting such a lifestyle is higher. On the other hand, if your social circle enjoys healthy food and exercise then you’re more likely to join in.

It’s also proven that people live longer when they have friends compared to lonely people who live in isolation. Research shows having friends is twice as powerful as exercise at prolonging life and similar to the health effects of quitting smoking.

No Friends?

Maybe you’ve moved to a new city or your friends have deserted you. Perhaps you have “friends” but they bring you down or are negative influences. Whatever the reason, you feel alone and you desire the bond of a healthy friendship. The mental and physical health benefits are just icing on the cake. Not sure how to make new friends? Here are a few tips.

Visit places you can meet new people. This may be at the dog park, a coffee shop, or a place of worship. Casually get to know people and show interest in who they are. Take some initiative and get their contact information. Invite them to see a movie, to go out to eat, or to exercise. Remember—to have a friend, you’ve got to be a friend.