Health through Positive Thinking

Researchers have proven a connection between our body's immune system and our emotions. Those who are happy and content suffer fewer illnesses.

Happy people don't get as sick because positive thinking strengthens a certain region of the brain that has a positive influence on the immune system. At least, this is what American researchers found in a study of 52 test subjects.

Studies have often shown that joy, positive thinking and happiness can boost health. Grouches and those who always scold or think negatively are often ill. But how feelings can influence the immune system was not known for a long time.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin in Madison hypothesized that the play between emotions and the immune system could occur in a certain region of the brain. Specifically, in the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for emotional reactions to events. Good feelings stimulate the left part of the cortex, bad feelings stimulate the right.

To verify their assumption, the researchers studied 52 women between the ages of 57 to 60. Each was asked to write about her worst experience and her happiest experience in her life. The brain of each participant was electronically monitored and brain activity recorded. The stories about the worst experience lit up the right cortex, and vice versa. Then all test subjects received a flu vaccination.

At regular intervals over six months, the researchers monitored the amount of antibodies against influenza viruses in the blood of the test subjects. In participants with high activity in the left part of the cortex -- that is, the side affected by happy stories -- many more antibodies were produced in the blood. This confirmed the researchers' assumption.