They say,“laughter is the best medicine,” and now that we can actually measure and monitor bio- and biochemical feedback, it turns out that the old expression is actually true. A recent study from Loma Linda University Health demonstrated that when people are genuinely or “mirthfully” laughing, the brain goes into a state that is similar to that of true meditation. The researchers used electroencephalographs (EEGs) to measure the brainwaves of more than 30 participants. According to Lee Berk, PhD, the lead researcher for the study:
What we have found in our study is that Humor Associated with Mirthful Laughter sustains high-amplitude gamma-band oscillations. Gamma is the only frequency found in every part of the brain. What this means is that humor actually engages the entire brain — it is a whole brain experience with the gamma wave band frequency and humor, similar to meditation, holds it there; we call this being, ‘in the zone’…
Patients who laugh experience a higher clarity of thought afterwards and their thoughts become more integrated. The study’s findings are such that doctors may actually begin prescribing “laughter” to improve their patients’ health. There’s a prescription we can all get behind.
Four Other Surprising Ways to Improve Your Health
While we can’t say we were shocked to read that laughter begets health, it did get us thinking about all the non-traditional things one can do, besides the typical diet and exercise routine, to improve her health. Here are 4 more for you:
1. Enjoy your coffee or tea. Caffeine gets a bad rap; when consumed all day, every day, it can cause problems. And of course, if you’re pregnant, it’s especially important to keep caffeine intake to a minimum. But, the truth is that both coffee and teas contain phytochemical compounds that are good for your heart and may reduce your risk of stroke. Researchers believe that the antioxidants found in both, and the flavonoids found in teas, are responsible for the decrease in heart disease among regular tea and coffee drinkers. Also, antioxidants are known for being cancer fighters.
2. Buy a new mattress. Of course we know that healthy sleep habits are critical for good physical and mental health. However, not enough emphasis is placed on how important your mattress is in getting that good night’s sleep. A 2009 study had people track how they felt for 28-days after sleeping on their own mattresses and then again after sleeping for 28-nights on a new “medium-firm” mattress. There was a dramatic reduction in stress once the participants were sleeping on a new mattress. Other things to consider to get better sleep:
–Eliminate potential allergens. Old mattresses and dirty sheets/pillow cases harbor dust mites, which 20 million Americans are allergic to. Your sleep may be disrupted for respiratory problems you aren’t even conscious of.
—Don’t use your bed as an office. All sleep experts agree that the bedroom should be used for sleep and sex, period. When you bring your work into the bedroom, especially via electronic gadgets, your subconscious has a hard time turning off so you can get into your deep sleep mode.
3. Eat more often. Research published in the British Medical Journal states that people who eat six small meals per day, as opposed to the typical three, have 5% lower LDL cholesterol levels than average. That is enough to reduce your risk for heart disease by as much as 20%. Of course, the healthier those six meals are, the better.
4. Go barefoot. Now that the weather is getting warmer, go barefoot whenever possible. Our bodies weren’t meant for shoes and the more you go barefoot, the better off you may be. Going barefoot can improve your posture, strengthen foot arches, and can literally energize you.