Negative news is sensationalized, tragic acts hyped and anything that seems to be scary, gloomy or contradictory becomes popular amongst all of us immediately. There is plenty of research and data available supporting the fact that hostility, anger, depression, anxiety and isolation elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease. But are you all aware that the reverse is also true? Laughing aloud, a sense of humor and happiness are great ways to decrease stress hormone, reduce artery inflammation and increase HDL levels. Alongside reducing stress and tension it is also recommended to increase your laughter and happiness levels. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the positive effects of laughter last 24 hours and there are several ways in which laughter can pave way to a healthier heart.
Laughing out loudly increases blood flow
Laughter increases blood flow by dilating inner lining of blood vessels known as the endothelium. When a person laughs, the act induces the release of beta-endorphins in the hypothalamus which in turn leads to the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide befriends the heart by dilating blood vessels, reducing inflammation and preventing formation of cholesterol plaque. Researchers in fact compare the changes in the endothelium caused due to laughter to be similar to the benefits of aerobic exercise or the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins. The only difference is that laughter is a reflex action that has an immediate effect unlike exercise or drugs.
Your ‘HaHa’ & ‘HoHo’ Decrease Stress Hormones
Laughing out aloud can indeed decrease stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine which are explained clearly in the website www.firsteatright.com. This advantage remains as a great value addition as otherwise stress causes blood vessels to constrict.
Laughing Enhances Immune System Functioning
Our immune system plays a pivotal role in safeguarding our body against diseases and disorders. This puts us in a critical position of keeping our immune system in the right form for performing their function properly. Laughing out increases the number of antibody-producing cells which increases the strength of the immune system.
Besides these, laughter reduces the negative response to stress and causes blood vessels in the body (this includes the heart too) to increase blood flow. These are some of the many benefits of laughter explored by researchers. There is also certain study material available that point out the fact that laughing out aloud can reduce the risk of heart attack.
When such are the crucial benefit of laughter, it’s better that we take efforts to laugh. For instance, we can try to look at the lighter/brighter side of things, watch something comical on TV or go to a comedy movie or try spending more time with loved ones who can make you laugh and be happy. Ultimately, we need to increase the happy hormones in our body, decrease the stress hormones and achieve the right balance of antibodies to safeguard our immune system.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.