Hold On To Happy Hormones

Out of about 60-70 hormones produced in our body, a few help us feel good & happy and the need of the hour is to discover these.

Hormones are chemical messengers that help our body co-ordinate it’s internal functioning. They help regulate body functions on physical, mental and even the emotional level. The world has witnessed a pandemic that’s still not over and many of us have been through emotional upheavals because of factors like losing loved ones, change in work environment, changing family dynamics and much more. Out of about 60-70 hormones produced in our body, a few help us feel good & happy and the need of the hour is to discover these. You may be surprised to know that simple activities and food habits can help boost release of these 4 euphoric compounds :

- DOPAMINE: Commonly known as the “happy hormone”, it drives the brain reward system and spikes with pleasurable activities. Getting praised, or falling in love, shopping, eating one’s favorite foods ,smelling your favorite aromas, even sex and meditation can all cause dopamine spikes. Dopamine plays a role in kidney function, our moods, heart rate, blood vessel function, sleep, lactation , learning & movement. Dopamine is made from tyrosine, an amino acid that can help enhance dopamine levels in brain and boost memory and cognitive function. Food sources of Tyrosine include chicken & other poultry, dairy such as milk, curd and cheese, bananas, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and soy.

- SEROTONIN : Helps one feel good and in keeping anxiety and depression at bay. In fact, most anti-anxiety pills and anti-depressants contain SSRIs(selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors)which work by increasing serotonin levels in brain. Exercising, spending time in nature and enough sleep help boost serotonin production. Serotonin influences memory, stress response, digestion, addiction, sexuality, sleep and  body temperature. A drop in serotonin levels triggers SAD(seasonal affective disorder) , similar to winter blues or feeling gloomy during periods of less sunlight. Exposure to sunlight can fix the serotonin levels. Exercising helps release tryptophan which is  a precursor of serotonin. So, including foods rich in tryptophan is the best way to get this euphoric hormone. Food sources include turkey, cashews, milk, banana, wholegrains, nuts and seeds  and legumes.

- ENDORPHINS : You must have often heard this word in context with exercise or working out. Cardio activities are the best way to release this hormone, besides actions like laughing, having sex, acupuncture, meditating, sitting in sun, listening to music or enjoying a delicious meal. Did you know endorphins can actually act as natural painkillers. Now you know why athletes and runners can push past the pain during high intensity events. It is released in response to pain and stress . In fact, the term “endorphin” is derived from “endogenous (meaning produced in your body) morphine( a well-known opioid painkiller). Cacao, spicy foods, ginseng and vanilla extract can help boost endorphin production.

- OXYTOCIN : Famously known as the “love hormone” , it plays an important role in bonding and attachment. Oxytocin also helps lower inflammation in the body, reduces carbohydrate craving  and balances out Cortisol(the well-known stress hormone). It flushes through a woman’s body during child birth and while nursing. This hormone also skyrockets with an intimate touch, a warm tight embrace, holding hands, kissing, massage and sex. You may be surprised to know that oxytocin can cause uterine contractions to facilitate childbirth, and even flow breast milk from the ducts to the nipple. Low levels of this cuddle hormone is linked with depression, including post-partum blues that many new mothers experience. Besides physical touch, the most promising way to increase oxytocin is exercise and then music. Symptoms of low oxytocin include irritability, poor communication, elevated anxiety, sex which is more mechanical than emotional, sugar cravings and an elusive orgasm. The good news is that certain foods can help boost oxytocin production. The list includes figs, avocado, green tea, nuts, coffee, pumpkin seeds, orange, water melon, dark chocolate, egg yolk, banana, berries, extra virgin olive oil, mushroom and chia seeds.

Adequate intake of Vit C and magnesium and Optimal levels of Vit D and B -12 can help boost and stabilize these feel-good hormones. It is advisable to consult your medical practitioner before deciding to opt for hormone supplementation, as it may lead to serious counter-effects.

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happy hormones Mental Peace


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