Science & Tech

5 surprising health benefits of smiling

5 surprising health benefits of smiling
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Today (October 7) marks World Smile Day, so there's never been a more perfect time to show off your grin and pearly whites.

This year's theme is "Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile," with this positive message being spread on social media.

The first World Smile Day was in 1999 to honour commercial artist Harvey Ball - the guy who created the smiley face back in 1963 in a bid to boost employee morale in his insurance company.

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Though his smiley face went on to become the most recognised symbol of happiness and remains an integral part of our culture.

However, Ball wasn't a fan of how his smiley face design was becoming more commercialised due to its popularity and so decided to launch World Smile Day to celebrate smiling, happiness and kindness.

While Ball passed away in 2001, the event in his honour has continued on to this day.

One of the positive aspects of smiling is the surprising health benefits of flashing a grin.

Here are some of the different ways a smile can be good for your health.

Relieves stress

Smiling is a stress reliveriStockphoto by Getty Images

Smiling can actually fight off stress - well, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides that are able to achieve this.

Our bodies also release endorphins, which act as natural stress and pain relievers, and consequently reducing the effects of the stress hormone cortisol.

So it might be worth pulling a fake smile if you're feeling anxious or under pressure.

Live a longer life

Smiling can help us live longeriStockphoto by Getty Images

As smiling lowers our stress levels, it's no surprise that several studies have found that those who are more optimistic liver longer.

American scientists studied an old photo of a team of baseball players, and found that those who smiled in the shot did indeed live longer. The big smilers lived an average of 79.9 years. The partial smilers, 75 years, according to Colgate.

Better mood

Smiling puts us in a good moodiStockphoto by Getty Images

There’s also evidence that forcing a smile can trick your brain into putting you in a better mood due to the chemical release of dopamine and serotonin.

Benefits the immune system

Even our immune system benefits from us smilingiStockphoto by Getty Images

As well as helping with our mood, smiling also benefits our immune system as the neurotransmitter dopamine in our brains increases the production of antibodies.

“What’s crazy is that just the physical act of smiling can make a difference in building your immunity,” Dr. Grossan an ENT-otolaryngologist in Los Angeles told NBC News.

“When you smile, the brain sees the muscle [activity] and assumes that humor is happening.”

Reduces blood pressure

Smiling sees a reduction in our blood pressureiStockphoto by Getty Images

Given that smiling reduces stress, it also helps to lower our blood pressure.

A smile or laughter causes an initial increase in heart rate, there is then a period of muscle relaxation followed by a reduction in our heart rate and blood pressure.

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