There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless—a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. 
This is a passage recorded by Solomon, a King of Israel from c. 970-931 BC, who is often remembered for his depth of wisdom. He was a man who experienced challenges, struggles, and breakthroughs in the area of relationships. Toward the end of his life, he penned this concluding wisdom that two are better than one-- a principle that is timelessly true as it relates to our health. Thus, it is important to intentionally invest and build this area of our lives. Before we look to how we can take action to grow new and old relationships, I will first share with you why relationships directly impact our health.
While there will always be some measure of stress in friendships or marriage, healthy relationships have been proven to reduce the production of cortisol which is the stress hormone released by the adrenal glands.  This process protects us from anxiety, depression, digestive problems, sleep problems, headaches, heart disease, weight gain and memory challenges. Secondly, relationships provide us with the emotional support to take ownership of our health. The fact that “two are better than one” (people, not cookies!) is true for any area of habit change because of the source of accountability.
Interestingly, we could eliminate all toxins from our diet and condition our bodies through exercise and sleep, but if we lack in the area of relationships our health may remain compromised. In fact, poor or no relationships can be as detrimental to our health as the stressors of smoking and excess weight gain. A study at Brigham Young University in Utah revealed that people with strong relationships are half as likely to die young than those who are more isolated. Research discovered that “a lack of social relationships was equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.”  This study also revealed that, as a culture, we are growing more and more isolated rather than stronger in our relationships. Therefore, it is necessary to intentionally build ourselves up in this area!
In conclusion, now that we’ve heard the supporting evidence that good relationships benefit our health, how do we move forward? Creating and maintaining healthy friendships is not as simple as knowing what food to eat or avoid; it is dependent on at least one other person than ourselves. This, however, does not leave us without a level of control. During the next couple of weeks, I want to park on this topic and discuss a few elements of relationships that we can truly own. These will challenge us to action and equip us to build healthy lifestyles through community.
If you have questions or comments for Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Maria Adam, contact her at thrivinghealthNY.com.