Is optimism key to good health?
Viewing the glass half full really could be beneficial to your health. According to new research from Harvard University, there is a link between psychological and physiological health, especially with regard to a favorable view of the future.
The study drew a correlation between optimism and antioxidant concentration in the body. Antioxidants neutralize molecules called free radicals, which can damage cells and cause disease if unleashed in the body. Antioxidants are often associated with anti-cancer properties, especially when consumed in blueberries, among other fruits and vegetables.
The Harvard researchers sought to study a person's optimism "score" through a series of positively worded statements (as opposed to negatively worded statements). Antioxidant levels were then measured with a blood sample. The researchers also asked participants about fruit and vegetable consumption, vitamin use, exercise habits and smoking status. The results indicate that optimism is associated with a specific type of antioxidant called carotenoids, which are present in many fruits, grains, oils and vegetables. People who were optimistic had three to seven percent higher levels of carotenoids in their blood.
One question did remain: which came first, good health or optimism? Were people more likely to be healthy because they were optimistic, or were they optimistic because they were in better health?