by Don Ingwerson
The pursuit of a healthy, harmonious long life is ongoing, with many searching for links to elements of lifestyle including greater income, higher education, and better health care access. But is there a direct link between these aspects of lifestyle and health? Not necessarily. Surprisingly, some Latinos throughout the country don’t show corresponding links between health and income, education level, and access to health care. There are also indications that if the individuals emigrate from another country to America, they have a longer life expectancy than those who are born here.
This seems to be a paradox that hasn’t yet been resolved, but interestingly, a reader posted a comment at the end of an article reporting on these findings, explaining what he thought was the cause: “Latinos believe in handing their problems over to God, they give and receive lots of Beissos (kisses) daily, and they deeply cherish babies and old folks…which altogether make life’s trials and tribulations more manageable….”
Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA, is convinced there are reasons to explain the paradox. “There is something there, a mechanism. Because we haven’t bothered to look at it, we don’t know what it is. My hunch is it’s staring us right in the face.”
One compelling idea that I think could be “staring us right in the face” is having a spiritual relationship with God. Many religious leaders and medical professionals have indicated that prayer has a place in promoting harmonious health. One source that I’ve found very helpful is Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by spiritual leader and author Mary Baker Eddy. In these writings, Eddy presents a clear pathway for prayer to influence one’s health, leading to a longer life that is more flexible, centered, and balanced. She wrote, “Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it.”
Although some might be encouraged to think that health and longevity are tied to health care access, income, and education – with the idea that an individual can pursue health by taking control of these factors – Latino health just may show that health is reached through a different avenue – through a relationship with God.