Updated: Oct 17, 2018
The pursuit of a vibrant life is much more than nutrient-dense food, active movement, restorative sleep, or adequate hydration. Often overlooked is the incredible impact of enriching friendships on your body, mind, and spirit. While close relationships can help you live longer, quality friendship increases your healthspan, the number of good years that you enjoy.
Flinders University Centre of Aging Studies in Australia observed this for over 20 years in an ongoing study of almost 1,500 adults. Researchers found that people with a large network of friends outlived those with only a few friends by 22 percent! Even after the intense loss of loved ones, the positive health impact of friendship continues. Why Good Things Happen to Good People by Stephen Post, Ph.D., and Jill Neimark is an interesting book detailing this study on friendship and longevity.
But what about healthspan? That’s what we want more of! I would assume that most of you reading this would like to have your healthspan equal your lifespan as closely as possible. It’s possible! I saw evidence of this yesterday when a dental patient told me about a funeral she had just attended for her best friend’s mother. Amy said, “She lived 95 years and had four bad days. She was excellent at nurturing friendships.” Social connectedness is definitely related to physical health, including depression. Researchers at the University of Chicago report that people with five or more close friends are 50 percent more likely to report themselves as “very happy” when compared with fewer confidantes. Good studies have shown that poor mental health can decrease a person’s willingness to exercise and may also increase behaviors such as smoking, overeating, or excessive alcohol use. Tending the friendships in your life is a great way to nurture your vitality.
The desires for a longer, happier, healthier life that leaves a positive impact in this world is why we each want to START SOMEWHERE enhancing healthspan. It’s not just one thing that makes it happen. It is a deliberate attitude, a conscious environment. Enriching friendships are an important, and often overlooked, part of your health equation. Ben Franklin summarized the value of relationships well when he said, “A good friend is the best possession.” Friendship increases your healthspan. LIVE YOUNGER by nurturing authentic, trustworthy relationships. You can do it. I will help you.
Enjoy this taste bud-tantalizing treat at your next get together!
Black Bean Dip By Garlic & Zest
1/2 red bell pepper 1/4″ dice
1/2 yellow bell pepper 1/4″ dice
1 jalapeño seeded and minced
5 cloves garlic minced
1 bunch scallions thinly sliced on a bias
2 15- ounce cans black beans rinsed and drained
1 10 ounce can original “rotel” tomatoes with green chili drained
1/2 small red onion finely diced
1 cup cilantro chopped
1 lime zested and juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a large bowl combine the bell peppers, jalapeño, garlic, beans, scallions, rotel tomatoes, lime zest and juice, red onion, cilantro, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Serve with tortilla chips