#AskDrMalik: CAN MY SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION AFFECT MY HEALTH?

religion affect health

QUESTION: DOES RELIGION AFFECT HEALTH? CAN MY RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY IMPROVE MY HEALTH AND WELL-BEING?

ANSWER:

There are reliable scientific data to prove that spirituality and religion affect health (physical, mental, and social) and well-being.

Renowned research scientist, Dr. Harold Koenig, a Professor of Psychiatry at the Duke University Medical Centre, and other scientists, have helped us to see, not only that belief and practice of religion and spirituality can improve our physical and mental health, but also how this happens!

For example, in his review of more than 700 research findings relating religion/spirituality and health, he concludes that:

Religious beliefs and practices are associated with significantly less depression (65% of research studies show this), lower suicide rates (83% of the studies), less anxiety (51% of the studies), less substance/drug abuse (82%), greater well-being, hope, and optimism (80%), more purpose and meaning in life (94%), greater marital satisfaction and stability (92%), and higher social support (95%)“.

Practice of religion or any form of spirituality reduces stress, and there is “better immune function (100% of studies show this), lower death rate from cancer (71% of studies), less heart disease (64%), more exercise (60%), better sleep (100%), and they live longer (75%)”.

The health benefits of heart-felt prayers, intermittent fasting, meditation, mindfulness, positive-thinking (and -confession), alms-giving, recitation, music, attendance of meetings, and so on, have been noticed, and the mechanisms by which these improve health are being discovered.

Religion also offers psychotherapy (and counseling) and some helpful health advice like those concerning eating, smoking, alcoholism, and sex. Obey them.

However, sin-consciousness, fear of hell and death, and constant focus on Satan and “enemies” as preached and practices by some religious folks have been clearly demonstrated to be damaging to the body, the heart, and the psyche. Renew your mind.

Every major religion is concerned about the body, and support health and healing. There are no clear-cut instructions anywhere discouraging the use of drugs or medical interventions. God gave the wisdom and skills for the production of these medications and performance of surgeries. Use God’s gift to you. It’s for you.

Don’t take the stand of extremists and fanatics.

Be devoted to whatever you believe. Practice what you profess. Be committed to whatever religion or spiritual belief you subscribe to. And, allow others the freedom to choose other religions or no religion at all!

Enjoy the health benefits of your spirituality and religion. Let the God-factor improve your health and well-being.

Do unto others as you would want them to do to you. Love.

And your body, your soul, will thank you for it!

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Dr. ‘Malik Haruna King is a practicing Nigerian Medical Doctor and Sex Therapist. He helps people with sensitive health issues find answers to questions they are too ashamed to ask!