6 Ways To Improve Your Happiness Hormones
Thank you to our BWB Naturopath, Chae Calder from The Wellness Emporium, for this terrific article.
Hormones get the blame for a plethora of health conditions and symptoms, but do you know exactly what they do? Often we hear about hormones in the context of the menstrual cycle i.e. hormonal imbalances, but they go far beyond this affecting both men and women.
Hormones (produced by the endocrine system), along with neurotransmitters (produced by the nervous system), are chemical messengers that carry signals from one part of the body to another. Both types of chemicals play major roles in promoting our feeling of happiness.
While the body uses a vast number of different chemicals, there are three main ones that are involved in the feelings of happiness that you may have heard of – Serotonin, Dopamine and Endorphins. Serotonin & dopamine function both as hormones and neurotransmitters, where as endorphins fall into just the neurotransmitter category.
Help Find Your Happy With These 6 Tips:
Improve Your Protein Intake – Protein provides the body with amino acids, I refer to these as the building blocks to life. Amino acids are essential for hundreds of reactions in your body including healthy hormone production and mood health. Amino acids, in particular tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine, are the precursors for our feel good hormones serotonin and dopamine. The body requires a minimum of 1 gram of protein per 1kg of body weight, for example if you weigh 60kg you require a minimum of 60g of protein per day. Keep in mind 100 grams of chicken breast is equivalent to approximately 20 grams of protein. Good quality sources of protein include grass-fed meats, organic chicken, organic free-ranged eggs, non-GMO tempeh, wild caught fish, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Engage in Exercise – We all know exercise is good for the mind and body but do you know exactly why? When you exercise your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are produced when the body comes under stress or experiences pain (hello burpees!!), as well as boosting your mood by bringing about feelings of euphoria. Recent Research has found that the best exercise for endorphin release is high-intensity interval training.
Laugh Out Loud – Laughter IS the best medicine! This is because when you get those really good belly laughs (when you laugh so hard it “hurts”) your body produces endorphins. Not only does laughing bring about happiness but it can also reduce pain. Furthermore, research suggests that just knowing that you are going to have a good laugh has also been shown to increase endorphins by 27 percent! So sign up to a comedy night, pop on a funny movie or surround yourself with people who make you laugh out loud!
Meditate Regularly – Meditation practices not only help you feel calm and centered, it also contributes to your overall happiness. Meditation triggers the release of endorphins and helps to increase our feel good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. If you’re new to meditation, I recommend starting small with 5-10 minutes of meditation per day and then slowly increasing. I love the Insight Timer App, as it records your daily times and has hundreds of meditation styles from background music to guided meditation. And just remember consistency over duration.
Eat Cacao - The pleasurable indulgence of eating high-quality dark chocolate has just got better! Cacao, the raw ingredient found in good quality chocolate, is not only packed full of phytochemicals that are beneficial for your overall health, but it also increases your happiness levels. Cacao causes the body to stimulate the feel good hormones serotonin and dopamine and is also rich in phenylethylamine (the love chemical). Phenylethylamine stimulates the body to release endorphins, further boosting your mood!
Heal Your Gut Health – With more and more research connecting gut health to the health of the entire body (especially the gut-brain connection), it is not surprising that healing the gut is a key step in healing almost all other body systems. The gut is not only responsible for digestion and absorption of nutrients, but it also plays a major role in mood. It is estimated that 90% of our happiness hormone, serotonin, is actually made in the gut.