Smiling Improves Metabolism

Whether you feel like it or not, smiling and laughing can immediately affect your metabolism. You might not notice it immediately, but you will start to see the truth in this statement after a while. Even though there is limited science looking directly at this, it does make sense biologically speaking.

One study suggests that genuine, “mirthful laughter” has a direct stress-lowering impact. If, for example, joyous laughter lowers cortisol and adrenaline, it is possible to extrapolate from this an improvement in overall energy metabolism.

Everybody knows that laughter can feel good, so if you can find a way to laugh, especially when you feel like it the least, this can effectively short-circuit chronic, habitual stress patterns.

Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter; Am J Med Sci . 1989 Dec;298(6):390-6. 

The mirthful laughter experience appears to reduce serum levels of cortisol, dopac, epinephrine, and growth hormone. These biochemical changes have implications for the reversal of the neuroendocrine and classical stress hormone response.

Maybe you aren’t ready to laugh, but you can force a smile, even if you have to fake it. Scientific evidence suggests that this is an excellent way to slow down a heart rate made fast by a stress response, most likely lowering adrenaline and other stress substances.

Reducing stress substance release enables digestion to function better, which benefits all areas of metabolic performance. I talk about stress and digestion in more detail in my old article Don’t Eat The Vegetables!.

Metabolic improvements can be subtle at first, but after a while, it becomes easy to notice the change in your body and mind when you put a little smile on your face.

It helps to practice throughout the day so that you can get used to doing it even when you don’t feel like smiling at all.

Grin and bear it: the influence of manipulated facial expression on the stress response; Psychol Sci. 2012;23(11):1372-8. 

Findings revealed that all smiling participants, regardless of whether they were aware of smiling, had lower heart rates during stress recovery than the neutral group did, with a slight advantage for those with Duchenne smiles…findings show that there are both physiological and psychological benefits from maintaining positive facial expressions during stress.

There is plenty of good evidence showing that the substances which rise in the body when stress is high and metabolism is interfered with promote the growth and spread of cancer.

Based on this knowledge, it is likely that lowering stress is a helpful approach to assisting with any cancer treatment methodology, even the hazardous ones.

Smiling and laughter can help promote a positive mental attitude, and a positive outlook benefits cancer patients. The same is going to be true concerning almost any kind of inflammatory disease state.

Again, you don’t have to feel like smiling or laughing to benefit, and the more you practice, the better you get at it, and the more accessible and more natural and genuine it becomes.

Laughter and Stress Relief in Cancer Patients: A Pilot Study; Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 2015: 864739. 

A randomized controlled trial was conducted involving 31 patients who received four sessions of therapeutic laughter program…While no change was detected in the control group, the program group reported reductions…for anxiety, depression, and stress, respectively…Scores decreased significantly after the first therapeutic laughter session…

The following study shows how laughter therapy might have had an essential role in an 88-year-old cancer patient’s survival and improvement, even though the cancer was advanced and she declined cancer treatment.

It isn’t easy to prove that laughter therapy was directly responsible for the improvement, but it would have at least played a part.

Numerous metabolic explanations exist for cancer development and advancement, including excessive reliance upon fatty acid oxidation and the chronic breakdown of protein.

There is good reason to think that anything that can lower exposure to the substances of stress, and improve thyroid energy metabolism, will be protective.

A case of laughter therapy that helped improve advanced gastric cancer; Jpn Hosp . 2010 Jul;(29):59-64. 

We have reported the case of a patient diagnosed as having advanced gastric cancer at the age of 88 years old. An endoscopy revealed a type-2 gastric cancer of 25 x 30 mm in the lesser curvature of the middle stomach body and an IIa gastric cancer with T2 SS and cardiac accessory lesions…Considering the patient’s age and her desire not to receive cancer treatment, we prescribed laughter therapy…One year and seven months later…A tissue biopsy revealed that nucleus abnormality clearly improved…Now, five years after the initial diagnosis, she maintains a good condition.

There has also been a study looking at changes in the brain, from simply moving the muscles associated with smiling.

Although it’s hard to be sure about the significance of the changes, there is reason to believe that just imitating a smile is enough to improve the state of mind and metabolic function.

When you smile, you become happy: evidence from resting state task-based fMRI; Biol Psychol . 2014 Dec;103:100-6. 

The resting-state fMRI results showed that compared with the HPL [holding a pen using only the lips…inhibiting the muscles typically associated with smiling] condition, significant increases in the amplitudes of low-frequency fluctuations were found in the right posterior cingulate gyrus…and in the left middle frontal gyrus…in the HPT [holding a pen using only the teeth facilitating the muscles typically associated with smiling] condition. These findings might be related to the initiation of positive emotions and to the control and allocation of attention.

So what is the takeaway from all of this?

The most important thing to remember is that the stress response can be a bit like a habit, and some people go into stress a lot easier than others, for no fault of their own in many cases.

Suppose you want to break a habit like being stressed and feeling inadequate and create a new pattern that serves you, like being happy and feeling good. In that case, there will be a period where the new way feels awkward, unnatural, or maybe even really uncomfortable.

More often than not, all you need to do is grin and bear it for a while, and eventually, you’ll see that it starts to get easier and work better. It’s almost always worth it.

Ohh, and sugar helps too.

Copyright 2021, by Dan M @ CowsEatGrass. All rights reserved (except for quotations and images having their own protected copyrights). This copyright protects author-publisher Dan M’s right to future publication of his work in any manner, in any and all media — utilizing technology now known or hereafter devised — throughout the world in perpetuity. Everything described in this publication is for information purposes only. The author-publisher, Dan M, is not directly or indirectly presenting or recommending any part of this publication’s data as a diagnosis or prescription for any ailment of any reader. If anyone uses this information without the advice of their professional health adviser, they are prescribing for themselves, and the author- publisher assumes no responsibility or liability. Persons using any of this data do so at their own risk and must take personal responsibility for what they don’t know as well as for what they do know.

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1 Response

  1. Cristian says:

    Thank you for your work. It is amazing and necessary. Thank you.

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