Art, nature and spirituality may help prevent disease, study finds

The sense of awe on experiencing the beauty of nature, art and spirituality may boost our immune systems, according to a new study

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have linked positive emotions with reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, proteins that signal the immune system to work harder.

“That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions – a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art – has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy,” said Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, a co-author of the study.

While it has long been established that a healthy diet, sufficient sleep and exercise bolster the body’s defences against physical and mental illnesses, this study is one of the first to look at the role of positive emotions in this way.

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