Endorphins the Happy Hormone
Endorphins are natural hormones that your brain releases when it senses happy feel good vibes. These endorphins give you a sense of happiness, satisfaction and well-being; they tell you all is well with your body. It’s that relaxed sense after a good hearty meal, especially during the holidays. Endorphins are produced in the pituitary and hypothalamus glands and releases an opioid-like secretion that masks pain with a natural analgesic that tells the body all is fine with the world.
Acupuncture has been found to have the ability to release these compounds and relieve pain, at least for the short term, and to leave you with a wonderful sense of well-being. The same with vigorous exercise, good food, loads of laughter, plenty of sunshine (Vitamin D) and an active sex life. These things all help the body release natural endorphins to signal a state of euphoria, satisfaction, and feeling content.
There are certain foods that are known to aid in the feel good happy hormones too! While things like pasta can raise seretonin levels in the brain causing that feeling of satisfaction, this isn’t the healthiest food to consume a lot of. In fact, many people find themselves addicted to pasta and breads and white flours, because they give that instant “aaahhhhh” feeling. They may be good for that short term, but long term they can wreak havoc on your system.
Here are 7 healthier options to consider in raising your body’s feel good hormones:
Hot Spicey Foods. Spicy foods like peppers, have a chemical compound in them called capsaicin and is responsible for giving spicy food its “hot” quality. According to a study published in 2012 in “Psychiatry Investigation,” it showed an increase in opioid activity in the brain, indicating a release of endorphins 20 minutes after initial consumption. Try adding crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper to a dish to give it a spicier profile, or slice up red, yellow, and green peppers to eat with a veggie dip for a snack.
Rich Chocolate. Cocoa and chocolate both contain compounds known as tryptophan and anandamide, which are associated with decreased anxiety and higher endorphin production generating feelings of bliss when eaten. Dark chocolate is also a quality source of antioxidants such as flavonoids, which can help prevent cancer, chronic diseases, and inflammation. So don’t feel guilty about indulging in your chocolate craving, just make sure you source good quality chocolate that isn’t loaded with a lot of chemicals or fillers.
Ginseng. A root used as an ingredient in some foods and beverages, is another dietary route to increased endorphin levels. There is a compound found in panax ginseng that simultaneously lowers blood glucose and raises endorphins at the same time. Ginseng is often found in herbal teas and energy drinks. Although, be wary of energy drinks as they are loaded with a lot of other not-so-good-for-you ingredients too. The cleaner your ginseng source, the better.
Tryptophan. An amino acid that works with tyrosine and zinc in the body to naturally increase levels of serotonin/endorphins in the brain. Vegan sources of tryptophan can be found in: spirulina, raw pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, raw spinach, raw almonds, bananas, raw dried dates, raw oat groats, watercress, sunflower seeds, horseradish, pumpkin leaves, turnip greens, cacao, etc. Non-vegan sources of include: tuna, cottage cheese, turkey, egg whites, and muscles.
Theobromine from the cacao bean, kola nut and certain tea leaves, is able to increase endorphin levels. While stinging nettle plant, banana and and cacao actually contain serotonin itself.
Vanilla. The scent and taste of vanilla has been shown to help reduce anxiety. It’s has a calming comforting cozy affect on the body, the brain, our mood, and even in the home. You can add a drop or two of vanilla extract to your coffee pot as it brews in the morning, use vanilla scented candles throughout the house, vanilla essential oils in your bath, spray vanilla on your pillow as you sleep at night, or even rub some oil on your skin as a natural perfume.
Strawberries. This juicy red fruit is loaded with vitamin C, helps the body absorb iron, and they contain a high content of flavanoids called proanthocyanidin (provides rich red hue), known for helping to better the mood. The more often you can stimulate your brain to release these natural hormones, the better you will feel, and the easier it will be to put yourself into this happy state of being. Happy creates happy; like the laws of attraction. What you think about you bring about.. so let them do what they do naturally and reap the benefits!