A dear friend of mine passed along a lecture by Dr. Vincent Medici that discussed the chemical and biological benefits of pleasure. The full lecture can be found here, but I’ll summarize the key points.
The central focus of the lecture is on endorphins. Endorphins is the combination of the word endogenous (things that originate from the organism) and morphine (an opiate).
Endorphins are chemicals that interact with receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain or to create feelings of euphoria. (source)
In his lecture, Medici talks about the new age-y mantra of “get happy, get well.” These endorphins, are what he believes makes this statement more than just a saying.
Scientists are discovering that many organs in the body have endorphin receptors, and that endorphins “talk” to our cells… he says, “they initiate sequences in the cell that regenerate tissue.”
He talks about the example of when someone gets sick, and then they start doing yoga, getting massages, eating healthy and they start to feel better. He argues that the good feelings (and resulting endorphins) that come from those activities are what heals the body, not the activities themselves.
From a healing perspective, he asks us to “master the endorphin experience.” Those who are not healthy, are “missing the physical experience of [endorphins] at the level required to cure the disease.”
Doing a quick google search, I found more studies supporting his claims. This one found that by stimulating the opiate receptors on immune cells, they were more efficient at getting rid of tumor cells.
So, choosing pleasure not only feels good, it helps keep my body healthy too? I’ll take another serving!