Sunday, April 18, 2010

Loneliness and Laughter Affects Your Health

While the emphasis of our blog is about nutrition, we are all about giving people the information they need to thrive in life. I'm deviating from nutrition tonight to discuss some really interesting findings that have important implications for us and those we love.

Emotions affect your health...period! Emotions drive biochemical responses in our body and these biochemical responses can either benefit or detriment our health. I want to discuss 2 emotional states that we don't often hear much about - loneliness and laughter.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that loneliness can raise your blood pressure. University of Chicago researchers recently studied 229 people between the ages of 50 to 68 and discovered blood pressure appears to rise after four years of loneliness. The study shows, for the first time, a direct relation between loneliness and increases in blood pressure — a link that is independent of age and other factors that could cause blood pressure to rise, including body-mass index, smoking, alcohol use and demographic differences such as race and income. Even people with modest levels of loneliness were impacted. The researchers also looked at the possibility thatdepression and stress might account for the increase but found that those factors did not fully explain the increase in blood pressure. High blood pressure, often called a silent threat as it has few symptoms, undermines health in many ways. It increases the risk for heart attack and stroke and impairs kidney function. Like blood pressure, loneliness is sometimes not easy to detect. People who have many friends and a social network can feel lonely if they find their relationships unsatisfying.

One suggestion: Reconnect with the people from your past that you experienced unconditional friendship, acceptance and love. True friends can kindle smiles fand joy rom past memories. These are often the people who know you best and bring out the best in you...they help you thrive.

Laughter is good for your health in 3 ways.
1. Laughter reduces stress hormones. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like costisol, epinephrine (adenaline), dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters.

2. Laughter boost your immunity. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress. Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

3. Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. One study of 19 people with diabetes looked at the effects of laughter on blood sugar levels. After eating, the group attended a tedious lecture. On the next day, the group ate the same meal and then watched a comedy. After the comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after the lecture.

Find laughter and joy in your everyday life. Watch a funny movie. Do something silly with your kids or someone you love. Even at work - professional life can get so serious - bring some levity to the office. Not only will your coworkers appreciate it, they also might be little bit healthier for it.


Cosmic said...

I couldn't agree more(We all need to cultivate a all loving attitude:)!

xoxoxoo said...

I agree, the world would be a better place if we all would work to cultivate a loving attitude. It makes sense that a loving attitude and laughter make a big difference to the heart and happiness. I am amazed the connection it has to our physical health!

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