This article is written by Chris Kresser and published by the Kresser Institute. It dives into the latest research from JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) on health outcomes driven by behaviour change.
What if you could significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease—and extend your lifespan—simply by changing your outlook on life?
Well, that’s exactly what a study published in JAMA Network Open suggests.
The researchers found that those with a positive outlook enjoyed a 35 per cent reduction in cardiovascular events and an 18 per cent reduction in early death, compared to those with a pessimistic outlook.
These are not small effects.
In fact, they surpass—by a significant margin—the effects that you could expect from taking statin drugs.
The researchers speculated that people who were more optimistic were more likely to engage in health-promoting behaviours, like eating well and exercising.
But there’s another explanation for these benefits: neuroplasticity.
Research in neuroscience over the last 30 years has conclusively shown that:
- The brain is the control centre for health.
- Our thoughts, emotions, behaviours, and experiences change the structure and function of our brain.
This means that what we think, how we feel, and how we respond to life has a direct and measurable impact on our physiology—and thus on our health and our lifespan.
We’re not talking about New Age, woo-woo philosophy here.
This is based on peer-reviewed, scientific studies that have been published in some of the most reputable journals in the fields of neuroscience and neuropsychology.
And I think it’s one of the most revolutionary and empowering discoveries in medicine in the last hundred years.
So, how do you put these discoveries into practice?
Adapt180 Health™ nutritionist Lindsay Christensen, M.S., CNS, covers how practising mindfulness can rewire the brain and increase neuroplasticity in this article on my website.
You can change your brain—and in doing so, improve your health and extend your lifespan.
P.S. Another great resource is Dr Rick Hanson’s Hardwiring Happiness. This book offers a practical guide for applying the principles of neuroplasticity to create a more positive outlook and increase resilience. I’d also recommend Dr Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself. This book introduced the concept of neuroplasticity to the public. It challenges the notion that the brain can’t be changed, and uses case studies and stories from real patients to illustrate what is possible when the brain is rewired.