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Can you remember when you last felt the most beautiful? Does the face in looking- glass please you? Does any of this matter?

A large and recent study has revealed evidence linking physical attractiveness to immune system function. While many questions remain unanswered, the researchers believe their findings indicate that “a relationship between facial attractiveness and immune function is likely to exist.”

Could you be healthier simply because you are one of the lucky ones who has a uniquely attractive face staring back at you every time you glance in the mirror? 

Study On Physical Attractiveness Benefiting The Immune System 

Ever since the discovery of evolution, scientists have been puzzled by the truth behind beauty and it is still rationalized that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

Yet many studies are starting to undercover and determine what true beauty is,- and now being beautiful may be good for our health!

The study was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. The researchers propose that attractive facial features may actually be markers of good health, implying that our attraction to them may even benefit our offspring’s survival.

In their study, 492 people rated the attractiveness of 159 young adults’ photos in online surveys. Following the completion of the participants’ headshots, each individual underwent a battery of tests to assess the state of their immune system, the level of inflammation in their bodies, and their self-reported health. 

When the findings were analyzed, the authors discovered that people with attractive faces had a relatively healthier immune function, particularly in terms of bacterial immunity.

There was no correlation between increased inflammation and attractiveness among participants. This could imply that facial attractiveness is a better predictor of a healthy immune system than symptoms of acute illness. 

This means the primary function of facial attractiveness may have less to do with avoiding a sick mate and more to do with avoiding a mate who may have an impact on the health of future offspring – at least in theory. (1,2)

The Beautiful Difference Between Men And Women

The study also revealed some intriguing gender differences. Men, for example, were more likely to be considered attractive if their natural killer cells were active. These cells play an important role in ridding the body of viral infections. 

Women, on the other hand, were thought to be more attractive when a bacterium in their plasma grew slower, which is linked to blood levels of minerals, glucose, and antibodies.

The findings suggest that facial attractiveness may be linked to immune factors that can be passed down through genes, but this does not rule out the possibility that cultural factors influence individual perceptions of beauty as well. It’s unclear how each one compares.

The authors suggest and summarize  “It is also possible that links between attractiveness and health may be obscured in modern humans, given that human mate preferences were forged before the advent of modern medicine. That is, although attractiveness may have cued both health and immune function in ancestral populations, the links with health may no longer occur as modern medicine allows those with low immunocompetence to stay in relatively good health.” (1,2)

Although both beauty and youth are fleeting for us, anything that we can learn on strengthening our immune system is always an opportunity to take charge of our lives. Any process of transformation whether it be in our minds, our lives, or our looks, becomes a worthy form of personal growth.

Dr. Nandi’s Newsletter gives weekly tips on understanding the strength available to us at every moment through developing healthy habits for our immune systems

What Is Facial Attractiveness?

Man or woman, who doesn’t long for a smooth complexion, pretty teeth, or facial features with perfect symmetry? 

Facial attractiveness is integrative – combining theories and methods from behavioral ecology, cognition, cross-cultural research, and social psychology. (3)

Every day, we are all exposed to a plethora of faces and social interactions, and according to research, such exposure changes people’s preferences for faces.

Exposure increases the attraction to many types of stimuli, including faces – even when the exposure is unconscious. We know, through research, that familiarity is a powerful attractor. To determine familiarity, structural features of the face must be stored and represented. The more we are exposed to someone’s face the more beautiful that face can become to us! (3)

Other scientifically-proven indicators of perceived “beauty” include:

  • Symmetry. Even though our faces are not identical on both halves, when it comes to mate selection, symmetry is one of those qualities that consistently ranks as desirable across cultures. (4)
  • Secondary sexual characteristics. On average, women with more feminized faces have higher levels of circulating estrogen. Similarly, increased testosterone is associated with more stereotypically “manly” characteristics. Potential mates value these outward signs of a person’s higher hormonal levels. Masculine characteristics such as a large jaw and a prominent brow ridge are typically associated with dominance and attractiveness. Women’s fuller lips and higher or fuller cheeks are continually found to be desired in studies. (4)
  • Appearance Of Health. Evenness of skin tone, fuller faces, fewer blemishes and lines, and redness of cheeks and lips are seen as indicators of health and are therefore appealing. (5)
  • Socially-valued traits. Although facial expressions are transient, faces shown smiling are almost always rated as more beautiful than neutral faces. When combined with direct eye contact or when the smile is perceived as directed at the person rating the picture, these are beauty winners! (4)
  • Love status. Men who were labeled as married were more appealing than men who were labeled as single. Women find men more appealing when they are surrounded by other women rather than when they are shown alone or with other men. (4)

Factoring In Facts of Beauty 

As with any research, it is important to note that some studies are limited to specific cohorts, and further investigations should continually be conducted to draw more definitive conclusions.

Possessing a positive face or body image can certainly help you know your own worth. If you love yourself in small ways with self-care rituals, looking after yourself through nutrition, and taking time to relax and enjoy life, you can accept your own unique beauty- and life will become wonderful.

Signing up for Dr.Nandi’s Newsletter is a great way to receive lifestyle news and look for the beauty today in yourself, your life, and your health. 

So here’s to beauty, outward charm, and perfect health! We can each and all look and feel our best if we put in a little time and effort. 

  1. https://www.sciencealert.com/the-beauty-of-your-face-might-be-linked-to-how-your-body-fights-off-illnesses
  2. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2021.2476 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3130383/ 
  4. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2010.0404 
  5. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0301006618767258

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