Laughter and smile for health. It’s a science.
We have thought historically that laughter and health are closely related. There are sayings such as “People who laugh a lot are less likely to get sick” and “Laughter is a miracle drug with no side effects.” In recent years, research has focused on the effects of laughter as an actual medical matter. Laughter activates natural killer cells (NK cells) in the body, which boosts the immune system, helping to prevent and improve various diseases. We have scientifically proven that “laughter and smile for health” actually works.
Less laughter and smile with the stressful society and issues with aging
However, our today’s so-called stressful society lessens opportunities to smile. In addition, worries increase with aging, such as illness and decline in physical function increases, and we get less and less likely to be able to smile.
If you have few chances to smile, it makes you feel depressed and prolonged depression can lead to a decline in appetite, muscle strength, and cognitive function. It is severe in the field of nursing care, and it can have a negative impact not only on the person but also on the family around them.
We will discuss the power and effects of “laughter” today.
What risks occur in people who “do not laugh”?
At first glance, it may seem like a superstition that people who laugh a lot are less likely to get sick. However, did you know many researchers have scientifically elucidated the relationship between laughter and health from various angles?
For example, a research group led by Associate Professor Kentoki Takeuchi of the Nagoya University Graduate School of Preventive Medicine tracked about 14,000 older people who didn’t need nursing care for three years and compared the frequency of laughter in their daily lives and their subsequent laughter—analysis of the relationship between smile frequency and nursing care needs. As a result, they found that compared to those who “laugh almost every day,” those who “rarely smile” were 1.4 times more likely to be certified as needing long-term care.
In addition, in a study comparing “people who rarely have the opportunity to laugh” and “people who laugh almost every day, the risk of cognitive function decline was 2.1 to 2.6 times higher.(*1 ) There are also reports such as “The rate of stroke is about 1.6 times higher, and the rate of heart disease is about 1.2 times higher.”(*2)
*1: Osaka University Graduate School Associate Professor Tetsuya Ohira et al.
*2: from a paper by the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine research team
Based on these various studies, the dementia treatment, rehabilitation, and preventive effects of laughter are attracting attention in the medical and nursing care fields.
What exactly happens when you make a smile for health?
Surprisingly, 3,000 to 5,000 cancer cells are born every day, even in the body of a healthy person. Natural killer (NK) cells, a type of lymphocyte, firmly exterminate substances that adversely affect the body, such as cancer cells and viruses that invade the body. A smile for health activates these NK cells.
When people laugh, it transmits excitement to the “diencephalon” that controls the immune control function. Then it will subsequently secrete a large amount of signaling substance, good peptide. It activates NK cells, and NK cells attack cancer cells, viruses, and other “causes of disease” one after another. That’s the mechanism of immune power-up.
Conversely, when the brain receives negative information, such as sadness and stress, the function of NK cells slows down, and the immune system powers down. Thus laughter and smile for health are vital.
In addition, brain substances such as “dopamine,” which reduces anxiety and stress by laughing, “endorphin” that relieves pain and calms nerves, “serotonin” called the happiness hormone, and the love hormone “oxytocin” are secreted. They also have a relaxing effect. As a result, the whole body approaches a healthy state.
There are so many benefits of laughter and smile for health!
The power of laughter reduces stress and boosts immunity. But the effect doesn’t stop there.
Activates brain function
When stressed, the brain becomes tense, lacks oxygen, and dull. Conversely, when you laugh, your brain relaxes and takes in a lot of oxygen, which activates your brain cells and makes them work more actively. Activation of the hippocampus, which controls human memory, improves memory and thinking power.
Promote blood circulation
Breathing when you laugh hard is similar to deep breathing and abdominal breathing. A lot of oxygen is taken in the body by laughing, blood circulation improves, and metabolism becomes active.
Balance the autonomic nervous system
The autonomic nervous system consists of the sympathetic nervous system, which is dominant during daytime activities, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which is dominant at night and when relaxing. Only the sympathetic nerve becomes dominant when disturbed, and the excitement continues, increasing blood pressure and pulse. When you laugh, your parasympathetic nervous system becomes dominant, and your mind and body relax. The disturbed autonomic nerves are balanced, stabilizing the mind and body.
Muscle strength up
The action of laughing moves the abdominal muscles, diaphragm, intercostal muscles, facial muscles, etc. Thus, your muscle strength will increase by keeping doing it. The consumption of oxygen increases and the movement of the internal organs becomes lively and active.
As you can see, the effects of laughter and smile for health are wide and varied. Expectations are high for its various effects. It doesn’t stop in daily life. It also works in actual medical settings, such as lowering blood sugar levels in diabetic patients, alleviating pain in rheumatism patients, preventing hypertension, and preventing cerebral and myocardial infarctions.
How can I laugh and smile for health more frequently?
Even though we know it’s good for our health, it’s tough to laugh and smile so frequently with nothing fun. Here are some easy laugh training methods that anyone can do.
Relax facial muscles
The human face has various facial muscles, such as the frontalis muscle on the forehead, the orbicularis oculi muscle around the eyes, and the orbicularis oris muscle around the neck. First, relax these muscles.
・Open your mouth wide and slowly, saying “A-E-I-O-U”. The point is to be so enthusiastic that your mouth is about to burst.
・Stretch under the nose and move the muscles of the entire face freely.
Try to laugh
Whether it’s a remembrance laugh or a smirk, try laughing so loudly that your stomach crumbles for a minute. It’s pretty hard, but it will be good training to grab the trigger to laugh.
Listen to comedy shows
The opportunity to laugh is not born from the air. Watching comedy shows and comedy movies on TV, reading humorous novels, etc., it is essential to find more and more fun things on your own. And don’t be afraid to laugh out loud when you think it’s funny.
The important thing is to do the action of “laughing” and “smiling.”
It seems that NK cells increase even if you make a fake smile or only raise the corners of your mouth.
Balance your hormones to make your self easy to laugh and smile for health.
We have discussed about “smile for health”, but also health will make you smile. A natural supplement to balance your hormone will make you feel comfortable and makes you relaxed and easy to laugh and smile.
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Its primary function is to boost the weakened synthesis of a hormone precursor, DHEA. It’s safe as it only heals the natural synthesis function. The hormone boost doesn’t provide the only relief from menopausal symptoms. But, it also supports various aging issues including metabolism recovery, fatigue mitigation, etc.. It is not limited only for menopause women, but also after menopause or older.
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