Help your genes

Different types of happiness have different effects on your genes and your health.

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To enjoy good health, stay happy. Those were the words of wisdom we've heard from our elders and now the connection between health and happiness has been scientifically proven. What we didn't know, though, is that just being happy is not enough. It's the type of happiness that is crucial.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of California shows that happiness can affect our genes in a healthy or unhealthy way depending on what makes us feel cheerful and enthusiastic.

To be sure, there are two types of happiness that we experience. One comes from self-gratification, while another is associated with doing good to others and having a deep sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Interestingly, the do-gooders have favourable gene-expression profiles in their immune cells. They have low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong expression of antiviral and antibody genes, contrary to those with high levels of hedonic well-being.

Health is wealth, they say. So you have good reason to shift your focus to the community, if you haven't already done so.

Let's try to incorporate these lessons from the holy month of Ramadan into our lives.