Integrative Nutrition Blog

Vitamin L: I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

February 1, 2012

February is all about one thing: Love. Or as we like to call it: Vitamin L. This month we will be exploring the various relationships that not only help define who we are, but bring us closer to our happiest, healthiest selves!

Let’s start the series with a relationship that has been proven essential to our health and well-being: Friendship.

What would life be without our friends? Slightly lonely? Probably. Much less fun? I think so.

But could being friendless also affect your health? Several studies say yes.

In 2006, a study, involving 3,000 women diagnosed with cancer, was conducted to see what effect friendship had on cancer patients. Researchers found that women, who had 10 or more close friends were four times more likely to recover from the disease.

In The Girls From Ames: A Story of Women and a 40-Year Friendship, author Jeffery Zaslow, shares similar findings. The story centers around cancer survivor Kelly Zwagerman, who leaned on her long-time friends for support as she battled the disease. 

When Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, she immediately reached out to her closest childhood friends, who showered her with love and support. One woman sent her a blender and smoothie recipes after Kelly complained of painful sores in her throat from the treatment. Another knit Kelly a hat, knowing that her head would be cold once her hair started to fall out from the chemotherapy.

Kelly, who has since beat the disease, credits her recovery to her lifelong friendship with the women from Ames, Iowa.

But friendship is important not only for those with potentially terminal diseases— it also provides the support each of us needs to live our best lives.  I’ll use myself as an example: Surrounding myself with close friends makes the good times great and the bad times bearable.  My friends also keep me on track. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, which means I sometimes get so overwhelmed with my commitments that I lose sight of my big goals. If it weren’t for my friends’ constant support of my endeavors—and their gentle reminders of why I’m working so hard—I wouldn’t be as successful or as happy.

Or, as music legend John Lennon sang, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

How about you?  Why not get together with your favorite friends this week? It’s a great way to give yourself a mega dose of Vitamin L.

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