Science & Spirit: Curcumin, Happy Spouses, and the Divine
This week’s research dive found lasting effects from a spiritual encounter, reasons to try curcumin, and why having a happy spouse can help you live longer.
Encountering the Divine
Many of us have felt it—a deeply spiritual experience that moves us to our very core. Sometimes it comes in a dream, or during an accident, or when trying a psychedelic like mushrooms—that sudden encounter with a sense of God, or a higher power, or an angel, or a glimpse of an ultimate reality beyond human experience.
A new study from Johns Hopkins looked into spiritual “A-ha!” moments, surveying 4,285 people worldwide and asking them to recall their single most memorable contact with the God of their understanding. A majority of participants felt it had created lasting positive change, giving them a greater sense of purpose and meaning, and increased life satisfaction, even decades later.
“Experiences that people describe as encounters with God or a representative of God have been reported for thousands of years, and they likely form the basis of many of the world’s religions,” wrote lead researcher Roland Griffiths, Ph.D. Griffiths is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “And although modern Western medicine doesn’t typically consider ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ experiences as one of the tools in the arsenal against sickness, our findings suggest that these encounters often lead to improvements in mental health.”
Curcumin Against Stomach Cancer
Several doctors have told me to take curcumin, which comes from the root of the turmeric plant (Curcuma longa). Then I’ll see conflicting research online, and be confused: Does this stuff work or not work? This week, curcumin got another thumbs up, as a new study in Brazil suggests it is effective in preventing and possibly even treating stomach cancer. The research, conducted by the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) and the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), also found other compounds in foods that may be useful in regard to stomach cancer, including resveratrol (found mostly in grape seeds and red wine), quercetin (apples, broccoli, and onions), and sodium butyrate (produced when bacteria in the gut ferment dietary fiber).
Longevity Secret: Having a Happy Spouse
You’ve heard the expression, “Happy wife, happy life,” but it turns out that regardless of gender, a happy spouse is good for you. The National Institute on Aging looked at data from 4,400 couples in the U.S., all over age 50, and found that having a happy life partner was associated with lower mortality risk for the other partner.
“The findings underscore the role of individuals’ immediate social environment in their health outcomes,” wrote the study’s author, Olga Stavrova. Ph.D. Stavrova is a psychology researcher at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. “If your partner is depressed and wants to spend the evening eating chips in front of the TV—that’s how your evening will probably end up looking, as well.”