The Surprising Benefits of Crying: More Than Just Tears
Discover the surprising health benefits of crying, from stress relief and mood enhancement to improved eye health. Learn about the types of tears, their functions, and how nutrition supports eye well-being.
Published February 19, 2024
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the editor(s), author(s) nor publisher(s) take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Crying isn't just a sign of sadness or joy; it's a complex emotional and physical reaction that offers surprising benefits for our well-being.
While it's often seen as a sign of vulnerability, science is revealing that shedding tears can actually be incredibly beneficial for our health, especially when it comes to the health of our eyes and emotional well-being.
So, before you hold back those tears, let's dive into the fascinating world of crying and discover its unexpected advantages.
Crying: A Unique Human Experience?
Did you know that humans are the only creatures known to cry emotional tears? This unique human trait helps us express a wide range of emotions.
This may have been recently debunked, though!
A study from Japan found that dogs might shed tears of joy when reunited with their owners, suggesting the complexity of emotional expression across species.
The Three Types of Tears
Our bodies produce three distinct types of tears, each serving a different purpose:
Basal Tears: These tears keep our eyes moist and contain antibacterial properties to protect our eyes.
Reflex Tears: Triggered by irritants like wind or onions, these tears help flush out irritants.
Emotional Tears: Released in response to feelings, they carry higher levels of stress hormones, possibly aiding in stress relief.
The Benefits of Crying
Crying is not just a response to sadness or happiness; it has numerous health benefits, including:
Soothing Effect: Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping to calm and soothe emotions.
Social Support: It can signal to others our need for support, strengthening our social bonds.
Pain Relief: Emotional tears release oxytocin and endorphins, which can alleviate both physical and emotional pain.
Mood Enhancement: The same chemicals that relieve pain can also boost our mood.
Stress Relief: Crying helps to reduce stress-related hormones in the body, offering a sense of relief.
Improved Sleep: While research is ongoing, many report feeling sleepier after crying, likely due to its calming effects.
Bacterial Protection: Tears have antimicrobial properties, thanks to lysozyme, which can fight off bacteria.
Better Vision: Regular blinking and the moisture from basal tears keep our eyes clear and prevent drying.
Supporting Eye Health Through Nutrition
Besides the natural benefits of crying, we can also support our eye health through proper nutrition. Vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in maintaining eye health:
Vitamin A is essential for seeing in low light and keeping eyes moist.†
Vitamin C protects against UV damage.†
Vitamin E and Zinc work together to protect the retina and can help prevent age-related damage.†
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are powerful antioxidants that shield the eyes from harmful free radicals.†
Incorporating foods rich in these vitamins and minerals into your diet can help maintain your eye health and complement the natural benefits of crying.†
Crying is more than just an emotional release; it's a complex, beneficial process that supports both our physical and emotional health.
By understanding the science behind tears and the importance of nutrition for eye health, we can appreciate the full spectrum of benefits crying offers. So, next time you feel the urge to cry, remember it's not just an emotional response but a powerful tool for well-being.
And don't forget to support your eye health with the right nutrients to keep those tears flowing healthily.