A doctor is trying to get his patient, an overweight man with diabetes, to lose some weight. "I want you to eat what you always do for two days, then skip a day, then repeat this for two weeks. When you come back, you should have lost five pounds." A month later when the patient returns, he's lost 20 pounds. The doctor is amazed. "Was it hard to follow my instructions?" he asks. "Well, on the third day, I thought I'd die," the man replied. The doctor nodded. "From hunger? " "No," the man replied, "From the skipping."
If you laughed at this joke, you may have just improved your blood glucose, at least according to a study at the University of Tsukuba in Ibaraki, Japan. Researchers there found that people who laughed at a comedy show after dinner experienced a lower spike in blood sugar following their meal than those who didn't do something that made them laugh. The conclusion, as reported in the May issue of Diabetes Care, was that for patients with diabetes, "daily opportunities for laughter" are important.
Laughter is proven to help keep diabetes under control: People with type 2 diabetes maintain better blood sugar-control after watching comic performances, research suggests. A Japanese study of 10 people with the condition suggests that might stem from beneficial changes in immune regulation that prevent damaging inflammation from undermining blood-sugar control.
Scientists, Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunologist, of Loma Linda University, and Stanley Tan, MD, PhD an endocrinologist and diabetes specialist at Oak Crest Health Research Institute, studied 20 diabetics at high risk for heart disease from high cholesterol and hypertension. They discovered that laughter lowered inflammation, and raised good cholesterol levels among diabetics, as the result of laughter. The scientists divided diabetics into either a laughter group, or a non-laughter group for the new study. Both groups of diabetics were given standard blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes treatment with medications. The groups were followed for 12 months.
Diabetics in the laughter group had lower levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine, improved HDL (good cholesterol), and decreased markers of inflammation, measureable by blood tests, by the second month of watching self-chosen funny videos. The findings indicated the diabetics in the laughter group had lower stress, and had reduced their risk factors for heart disease from engaging in laughter.
After one year, HDL levels rose by twenty-six percent and C-reactive protein was found to be sixty-six percent lower in the diabetic group who engaged in regular laughter. The control group, who received standard medical therapy, experienced a three percent rise in HDL, and twenty-six percent reductions in C-reactive protein, in comparison, showing that diabetics benefited from laughter.
In one study, researchers found that laughter not only decreased blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes, it also decreased the levels of prorenin in the blood. Prorenin is involved in the onset of diabetic complications.
Diabetics can definitely benefit from laughter, agrees Rashmi Gulati, MD, of Patients Medical in New York City. "Laughter is similar to exercise in that it improves the overall performance of the heart's muscular function and possibly wards off heart disease," she says. And besides lowering blood sugar, laughter has more benefits--it stimulates positive emotions and a more positive outlook. It's pretty well-known that stress can elevate blood sugar. Just having diabetes is stressful. Laughter is a great way to cope and we now know that being able to cope also influences your body's biochemistry, helping to insure that the chemical messages are working for you, not against you.
Keiko Hayashi, of the University of Tsukuba, Japan in his study on type 2 diabetes says, “A chuckle may help the body process blood sugar.” He found that laughter lowered blood sugar levels after a meal. Though he cannot yet explain the laughter-glucose connection, he says that laughter affects the neuroendocrine system, which monitors the body's glucose levels. The present study elucidates the inhibitory effect of laughter on the increase in post prandial blood sugar and suggests the importance of daily opportunity for laughter in patients with diabetes," wrote the study authors, led by Keiko Hayashi, RN.
How Laughter Yoga can help
Sedentary lifestyle: Physical inactivity and lack of exercise is related to obesity and rise in sugar levels. Laughter is an exercise which acts on the body and the mind. It has the ability to improve mobility and flexibility. It provides an effective cardio workout and accelerates heart rate faster than other forms of exercise. It provides an effective mid-body and also an aerobic workout that leaves one feeling energized.
Obesity: One of the functions of insulin is to stimulate hunger. Therefore, higher insulin levels lead to increased hunger and eating. Stress and compulsive eating disorders also add to excessive weight gain and heightened sugar levels. Extended hearty laughter has been proved as a tool to regulate blood sugar as it massages the endocrine glands responsible for glucose production.
Mental status: Agitation, unexplained irritability, inattention, extreme lethargy, or confusion can all increase sugar levels. Laughter Yoga is the only exercise that impacts positively and directly on body, mind and emotions. Ten minutes of hearty laughter causes the body to release a cocktail of hormones and neuropeptides that could cost thousands of dollars over the counter. This ‘laughter cocktail’ has profound influences.
Laughter Yoga is also auto regulatory. It effectively balances hormones, circulation, the lymphatic and the endocrinal system and boosts the immune system, thereby providing a sense of well being and inducing better health.
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