You have the ideal recipe for happiness inside you.
Your body has the ability to make “happy chemicals” naturally – no drugs, no side effects, no danger of addiction – that will leave you feeling better than you might believe possible. You have access to these feel good compounds right now, today.
The Mystery of the Human Brain
All of us are born with a factory just waiting to manufacture feelings of happiness – bliss even – yet we’ve forgotten how to turn on the machines. Understanding what happy chemicals are and the role they play in how you feel may answer questions you’ve had about your inability to focus, chase your dreams, take risks, find love, or experience true happiness.
Brain chemistry is a field researched all over the world. Your brain is capable of so much that scientists can search for years to discover the answer to one small aspect of how it works.
It is only recently that they began to understand that the dance of neurotransmitters and hormones inside your body determine the bulk of your moods and personal satisfaction.
Over the past few decades, we’ve gradually shut down the production of these substances with our diet and lifestyle choices. The result has been a dramatic increase in depression, eating disorders, suicide rates, substance abuse, and general unhappiness that affects every part of your daily life.
The pharmaceutical industry responded to these issues with dozens of “feel good drugs” that come weighted with dangerous side effects and the possibility of addiction. To add insult to injury, there is a large portion of those diagnosed with depression (more than 20% of patients) who does not respond to conventional drug therapy.
Happy Chemicals to the Rescue
Your pineal gland produces a hormone called melatonin. It is responsible for quality sleep – something the majority of Americans do not get – as well as adjusting to new sleep cycles (such as changing your work schedule), jet lag, and chronic fatigue. When darkness falls, your body produces more melatonin to get you ready to sleep. Foods such as pineapples, bananas, oranges, and tomatoes help to boost your body’s natural production of melatonin. Better sleep quality means better mood, more energy, and a happier you!
The neurotransmitter anandamide is responsible for easing pain in the body, improving mood, and boosting brain function. It is a fragile compound that breaks down quickly in your central nervous system. Located in the higher thought areas of your brain, the largest concentration is found in the walls of the uterus. Anandamide is one of the first chemicals passed to the fetus. It was during the study of marijuana that scientists discovered the cannabinoid receptor because cannabis is an external trigger for anandamide. However, there is another that is natural, delicious, and legal everywhere…cacao! The discovery of this molecule in the human body is so new that researchers aren’t even certain how it inspires bliss and calm – only that it does.
Your brain’s hypothalamus produces a hormone called oxytocin that is also a neurotransmitter. It is popularly referred to as the “cuddle” or “love” hormone. It has been proven to inspire feelings of trust, love, relaxation, and calm mood by lowering the effects of stress. It is primarily released during orgasm and childbirth or breastfeeding, causing many to dub it the “life” hormone. However, there are other natural ways to trigger oxytocin. Hugs, laughter, dancing, holding hands, listening to music you love, and being with people who make you happy all stimulate your internal production. Another incredible trigger that increases oxytocin by 10-50% is reading a book or watching a movie that makes you cry.
The neurotransmitter dopamine is well known as a happy chemical. Its biggest job is controlling the pleasure and reward centers of your brain. This makes it a crucial compound for motivation and determination to seek those things that bring us pleasure or a sense of accomplishment. It also plays a big role in maintaining a healthy weight. When you have adequate levels of dopamine in your system you eat less, make wiser choices, and are more focused. Adding foods such as apples, blueberries, poultry, green tea, nuts, bananas, cheese, watermelon, eggs, and fatty fish give your body the raw materials it requires to produce dopamine. Low levels of this crucial substance is linked to depression, procrastination, and feelings of self-doubt.
It may come as a surprise to learn that the majority of the feel good neurotransmitter serotonin is manufactured and resides in your gut. This compound is responsible for mood, appetite, quality of sleep, feelings of sexual desire, and high-level brain function such as memory and learning. When you don’t have enough serotonin, you have a greater risk of depression and other mood disorders as well as high-risk behavior. Natural ways to boost serotonin without drugs are safe exposure to sunlight – 10-15 minutes a day on your bare hands and face, quality sleep, regular exercise, and limiting your consumption of “white” foods such as sugar, rice, flour, and pasta. Instead, add cheese, eggs, nuts, poultry, avocado, and fatty fish to your daily eating plan.
The hormones known as endorphins are produced in the pituitary gland and central nervous system and are also considered neurotransmitters. They were first discovered during research on the effects of drugs like heroin on the brain. They are in charge of many functions that relate to overall feelings of happiness and wellbeing. These hormones are your body’s first line of defense against pain, provide an opiate effect (similar to morphine) after exercise or trauma, and basically make you feel pretty fantastic. They can be stimulated by foods such as cacao (dark chocolate), nuts, fatty fish, Greek yogurt, poultry (especially turkey), and bananas. The best natural methods of ramping up these high-powered happy chemicals are sex, laughter, exercise, and delicious or spicy food. They will also kick in faster and stronger than morphine if you’re in danger or if you’re hurt.
The True Happiness Lifestyle
When you take care of your body and mind, it takes care of you. If you’ve been down, low levels of these powerful hormones and neurotransmitters could be the problem. You don’t have to rely solely on a prescription or therapy to make changes right now.
- Meditation and deep breathing
- Good sleep
- Stretching and yoga
- Laughter (and tears)
- Own a pet
- Spend time with a loved one
- Go dancing
- Set goals (and reach them)
- Give yourself credit
Eat the best foods for your body to improve your quality of life in ways you never imagined. You deserve to feel amazing…and so many tools are in your hands. Let’s get started!
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