7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Faith

It’s impossible to quantify the benefits of faith in God.

Critics often state any benefits are fictional, or for the weak.

But, the opposite is true.

Those with faith in God have proven to be bold throughout history.

What’s more, there are actual science-backed health benefits of faith.

It’s been said that if this research supported another healthy practice, it would be proclaimed by governments and health officials everywhere. But, since we live in a world where it’s no longer acceptable to promote the benefits of faith, especially in Jesus Christ, it’s the world’s biggest health secret.

It doesn’t need to be.

Here are 7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Faith in God.

7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Faith in God

1. Heart Health

One key researcher in the area of faith and health is Dr. Harold Koenig.

According to Koenig, research has shown that when you engage in a faith-practice with God including regular prayer, you are 40% less likely to have blood pressure issues (1).

In addition, a 2015 study found that a greater baseline religious involvement resulted in lower saliva cortisol levels in young men, indicated lower chronic stress levels (2).

Lower cortisol levels mean better heart health.

2. Less Depression and Suicide

Although depression and suicide occur within all people groups, those who regularly practice a religious faith experience it less and/or deal with it in a healthier manner.

Dating back to the 1960s, 400+ studies have specifically studied depression and religious faith. Of these, 61% show a significant inverse relationship between spirituality and depression, and only 6% showed increased depression.

What’s more, according to a review of 49 studies, 80% reported less suicide, fewer suicide attempts, and increased negative attitudes towards suicide among those with higher religious and spirituality (3).

 

3. Mental Health and Hope

About 80% of the research on faith and health is in the area of mental health. And, since much of a faith practice is internal, in mind and Spirit, it makes sense that a faith practice would impact mental health the most.

It does.

More involvement in religious activities, faith and spirituality is correlated with better health (4). Specifically, studies show greater:

  • Coping with Adversity
  • Positive Emotions
  • Well-Being and Happiness
  • Hope and Optimism
  • Meaning and Purpose
  • Self-Esteem
  • Sense of Control

4. Less Substance Abuse and Health-Detrimental Behavior

Among those with religious and spiritual practice, studies find less cigarette smoking, less risky sexual behavior (outside of marriage, multiple partners, etc)., and less drug abuse.

Studies also show improved food choices and exercise as religious practice increases.

However, healthy weights are not consistently healthier. This is an area that needs improvement (5).

5. Prayer and Healing

The power of prayer for healing has been well-documented.

In fact, Dr. Koenig has stated that there have been more than 4000 studies that have been done on the connection between spirituality and medical healing.

A 2000 study published in the Southern Medical Journal studied 393 heart patients. The patients were divided into 2 groups, one receiving prayer from Christians, the other did not. The participants did not know which group they were in. The prayed-for group experienced fewer complications, fewer cases of pneumonia, fewer cardiac arrests, less congestive heart failure and needed fewer antibiotics (6).

Similarly, another study showed that rheumatoid arthritis patients who received prayer showed measurably higher recovery rates than those who did not (7).

6. A Greater Sense of Gratitude

In and of itself, gratitude results in better health. We’ve written about it extensively here.

Those with faith in God tend to have a greater sense of gratitude. Gratitude improves:

  • Mental Health
  • Healthy Behaviors
  • Heart Health
  • Mental Health
  • Healthy Aging

7. Longer Life Expectancy

Believe it or not, science has consistently shown that those with religious faith have an overall longer life expectancy.

In one study, 3000 women who regularly attended church services were assessed for health status, social support and habits.

They were followed-up 28 years later. Their mortality over that period was found to be more than a third less than the general population.

Another study analyzed data from questionnaires completed every four years of 74,534 women. It found that women who attended religious services more than once per week had a 33% lower risk of dying during the 16 years of follow-up compared with women who never attended religious services. Women who attended services weekly had a 26% lower risk, and those who attended services less than weekly had a 13% lower risk (8).

Bottom Line

While the benefits of a relationship with God and Jesus Christ go far beyond anything science could ever measure, there are science-backed health benefits to your faith. So, take heart! Your faith can improve your health!

6 Comments

  1. Virginia says:

    God says you shall live and not die and declare the works of the Lord !

  2. Robert says:

    And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free Hallelujah

  3. Carol Branch says:

    Thank you, Dr. Colbert, for researching and publishing the positive effects of an active faith life on an individual’s health and longevity! It is good to have the documented facts to refer to. I know that your faith walk has grown through closely following the Lord’s instructions in His written Word and His personal words to you, His Seeker Son. I am grateful for the endurance and tenacity of you and your awesome partner wife, and I pray that God will continue to raise you two up, for such a time as this!

  4. Carol Branch says:

    Amen, Virginia. What a perfectly appropriate verse of Scripture the Spirit gave you for Dr. Don!

Leave a Reply to Virginia Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Login