People with type 2 diabetes may be better able to process sugar from meals if they laugh, according to a small study.
Researchers found that diabetics who watched a comedy show had a smaller rise in post-meal blood sugar than when they listed to a non-humorous lecture. The effect occurred in people without diabetes as well.
Stress is known to raise the risk of elevated blood sugar, and poorly controlled blood sugar can increase the risk of diabetes complications such as heart disease, kidney failure and blindness.
Past studies have found that positive emotions such as laughter may lower blood pressure, release endorphins, improve circulation, stimulate the nervous system, heighten the immune system and strengthen the heart.
In the current study, researchers measured the blood glucose levels of 19 diabetics and five non-diabetics before and after they ate the same meal, on two separate days.
On one of the days, participants listened to a 40-minute "monotonous" lecture, while on the other day they sat in the audience of a Japanese comedy show. Most participants reported that they had laughed well during the comedy show.
In both diabetics and non-diabetics, post-meal blood glucose levels were higher after the lecture than after the comedy show.
Researchers are not certain why laughter appears to reduce blood sugar, but suggested that it might increase the consumption of energy by using the abdominal muscles, or might affect the neuroendocrine system, which controls glucose levels in the blood.
Diabetes Care May 2003;26:1651-1652http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12716853?dopt=Abstract