Archive for September 2011
‘Laughter is the best medicine’: we’re always being told that, but there’s actually more to a good giggle than just raising our spirits for a couple of minutes.
Research shows that while children laugh up to 400 times a day, adults do it only 17 times a day, on average.
In fact, laughter therapy is a big deal and can improve your health in lots of different ways. Just check out these 10 benefits of chuckling…
1. Laughter boosts your immune system
Researchers have found that laughter actually boosts the immune system, increasing the number of antibody-producing T cells. This then makes us less likely to get coughs and colds. It also lowers the levels of at least four hormones that are associated with stress, so after a good giggle you should be far less tense and anxious.
2. Laughter relieves pain
A good chortle has been found to reduce pain. Not only does it distract you from aches, but it releases feelgood endorphins into your system that are more powerful than the same amount of morphine.
3. Laughter improves your social life
Concerned about sedentary jobs, many offices find ways to add exercise to the workday. Some see it as an investment in workers’ healthcare.
Between the sheet-cake birthday parties and hours-long, cookie-fueled management meetings, office work has a way of undermining all our plans to live healthfully. Americans spend nearly nine hours at work each day — and our sedentary jobs wreak havoc on our bodies.
Three-quarters of adults get little or no activity daily, according to Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and obesity accounts for 63 million physician office visits each year. Even for active people, sitting all day increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Many corporations are now encouraging employees to move more during the workday: In an April survey by the corporate benefits group Workplace Options, 36% of employees said their jobs offered perks such as wellness coaches, on-site health screenings and fitness programs. And 70% of Fortune 200 companies offer physical fitness programs, according to the National Business Group on Health, with many saving on healthcare as a result.
Vitamin D is found in many dietary sources, such as fish, eggs, fortified milk, and cod liver oil. The sun also contributes significantly to the daily production of vitamin D, and as little as 10 minutes of exposure is thought to be enough to prevent deficiencies. The term “vitamin D” refers to several different forms of this vitamin. Two forms are important in humans: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Vitamin D2 is synthesized by plants. Vitamin D3 is synthesized by humans in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from sunlight. Foods may be fortified with vitamin D2 or D3.
The major biologic function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. It is used, alone or in combination with calcium, to increase bone mineral density and decrease fractures. Recently, research also suggests that vitamin D may provide protection from osteoporosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer, and several autoimmune diseases.
Rickets and osteomalacia are classic vitamin D deficiency diseases. In children, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, which results in skeletal deformities. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, which results in muscular weakness in addition to weak bones. Populations who may be at a high risk for vitamin D deficiencies include the elderly, obese individuals, exclusively breastfed infants, and those who have limited sun exposure. Also, individuals who have fat malabsorption syndromes (e.g., cystic fibrosis) or inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn’s disease) are at risk.