As kids, we used to laugh our hearts out even on banal jokes, but as we grew up, we got lost in chaotic lives and forgot the simple ways to be happy. Laughing your heart out is an extraordinarily powerful lifestyle change, which has been proven by science to impact the neuroendocrine system and immune system positively.
How it’s the best medicine
Diabetes: Laughter helps regulate and decrease postprandial blood glucose. When we laugh after a meal by either watching a comedy movie or reading a comic, the postprandial blood sugar levels, and IGF1 (insulin growth factor hormone) decrease. Just by engaging in it for 15 to 20 minutes, prorenin levels decrease. All these changes happen because of gene expression. Laughter is able to upregulate and downregulate certain genes.
Digestive disorders: Abdominal contractions are created when we laugh really hard. This produces digestive enzymes and insulin, thereby improving digestion and sugar levels tremendously. Circulation and oxygenation: Every time we laugh, the contraction helps increase blood circulation. When there is more blood flow, there is more oxygenation in the cells. When we have more oxygen and nutrients reaching the cells, we have more energy and, in turn, a stronger immune system and lower inflammation levels considerably.
Anxiety and Depression: Laughter can also help combat anxiety and depression because every time we laugh, it tricks the brain into believing that we are happy. Just by smiling, we move from the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS signals to the body that everything is okay and the stressful event is over. So, we can trick our brain into believing and moving out of the stressful system into the non-stressful system, only laughing or smiling. Even if we have to fake it, it helps in tricking our entire subconscious and the brain into believing the opposite.
The ways to bring in laughter are simple. Create a good social circle where you don’t feel judged and can be the way you want, and say everything that comes from your heart. Read a funny book and watch comedies. Laughter is not a replacement for doctors or medications but it has a powerful role to play. Just like sunlight, fresh air, clean water, good food, movement, quality sleep, and good management of emotions, can all help us as supplementary tools. The author is a Mumbai-based holistic lifestyle coach—Integrative Medicine