Diabetics Can Live Longer By Laughing More: There is an ancient proverb that reads, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Many have long believed that a positive outlook on life can improve personal health, but new research points to the fact the humor really is good medicine – and that medicine can be especially important to diabetics.
Depression and diabetes often go hand in hand and the cycle of ineffective control and weariness can place patients on a negative course that could proverbially “dry the bones”.
According to a recent report by HealthDay the study’s author, Lee Berk of Loma Linda University said, “Laughter may be as valuable as the diabetes medicines you are taking.” Berk has research data to back up this claim.
Twenty study participants with an average age of fifty participated in the study. They were assigned to one of two control groups. One encouraged laughter while the other did not.
The HealthDay report indicated, “All had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Both groups were taking standard diabetes medications, high blood pressure medicines and cholesterol-lowering drugs.”
Those involved in the laughter group were encouraged to select a means of producing personal laughter. This was often accomplished by watching a sitcom or movie. No participant was told what to watch or how to come up with laughter. They were simply encouraged to find a way to laugh for a minimum of 30 minutes a day.
Speaking of the laughter participants, Berk told HealthDay, “Once they got into it, they really liked it.”
This study was conducted over a year long period. The findings were significant. “The laughter group had an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol of 26 percent, compared to just a 3 percent increase in the good cholesterol of the control group, Berk said. Harmful C-reactive proteins declined by 66 percent in the laughter group but just 26 percent for the control group,” according to HealthDay.
Berk explained the reasons for the dramatic improvements this way, “You are decreasing the bad chemicals in the body with laughter and increasing the good chemicals, which help you stay well, may prevent disease and may well have [additional] value relative to the therapies you are taking.”
One of the greatest benefits for patients is that laughter does not cost anything. However, if you do not seek humor you may not find it. The study participants were encouraged to find forms of humor that would encourage laughter. It may seem to some either a waste of time or quack science, but the Loma Linda study showed a dramatic difference between those diabetic patients who laughed and those who did not.
To intentionally find ways to smile and laugh a bit may provide some motivation to engage in improved managed care for diabetes. It takes some effort and energy to laugh and that may supply the motivation to improve other aspects of personal care.
The HealthDay report included a comment from Sue McLaughlin, president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). She said, “It is encouraging to know that something like laughter, which is cost-free and can be shared and promoted by many, has beneficial effects on the well-being of a chronic disease that affects 24 million Americans. People with diabetes are at a two- to fourfold increased risk for cardiovascular disease, compared to their non-diabetic counterparts.”
Maybe finding a reason for laughter is more important to longevity than you thought.