A serving of happy hormones, please!

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“Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.”

Dalai Lama

With the pandemic raging across the world, all we need is a reason to be happy. Wish there were a magic wand that cast a spell and create happiness.

Wait a minute! Don’t we all have it already?

YES, we do! We all are blessed with ‘Happy Hormones’, which our body is capable of producing itself!

All we need to do is to tap into these happy hormones for our benefit – A healthy body in a healthy mind!

What are happy hormones?

Hormones secreted by endocrine glands are our body’s chemical messengers controlling the activities of all the organs. Happy hormones (also called happiness chemicals) are released by the brain when you feel good. There are four happy hormones. They are Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphin. Each of these hormones bring out the optimistic side of us. All we need is a balanced diet and a little lifestyle change that triggers and increases these happy hormones naturally. 

Happy Hormones
what are happy hormones
how to increase happy hormones
what triggers happy hormones
Happy Hormones

1.    Dopamine

Who does not remember the feeling of triumph after completing the homework or assignment at school?

or how a strong cup of coffee instantly lifts your spirits?

Thank dopamine hormone for these simple pleasures. Generally called as a reward hormone, it is released when your brain expects a reward. It is a neurotransmitter, sending signals from the body to the brain.

Ø What triggers this happy hormone? 

·        Getting enough sleep, listening to good music, and meditation can increase this happy hormone levels.

·        Getting your daily dose of sunlight is essential to boost dopamine levels.

·        A brisk walk or regular exercise triggers the brain to release dopamine which puts you in an exuberant mood.

·        A diet rich in proteins, probiotics, vitamin D and less saturated fats boosts this happy hormone.  Include dairy products, nuts, eggs, bananas, legumes, fava beans, omega-3 rich fish such as salmon, mackerel in your diet for your daily dose of dopamine.

·        Velvet beans (mucuna pruriens) consumed in some parts of Africa and Asia is a good source of dopamine. It is widely used in ayurvedic medicines. It is commercially used in dopamine supplements.

·        Meditation has proved to be effective in boosting dopamine levels.

Happy Hormones
what are happy hormones
how to increase happy hormones
what triggers happy hormones
Exposure to sunlight boosts dopamine levels

2. Serotonin

Like dopamine, serotonin is also a neurotransmitter. It acts as a mood stabilizer and contributes to sleeping, eating and digestive functions.

Serotonin controls the gastrointestinal functions such as food cravings, appetite and nutrient absorption. It is generally known as feel-good hormone.

If you are feeling anxious, cranky and depressed for no apparent reason, blame the low levels of this happy hormone.                   

Ø How to increase this happy hormone?

·        A good 30 minutes spent on aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, cycling and swimming increase the serotonin levels thus stabilizing your mood for the whole day.

·        Breathing fresh air can do wonders to your serotonin levels. If you are stuck in an urban jungle, reserve your weekends for a quick getaway to bask in nature’s glory and replenish your serotonin levels.

·        Happy memories, a good massage, essential oils are known to increase the levels of this happy hormone.

·        Food rich in protein, magnesium, vitamin B6 and B12 such as cheese, eggs, tofu, pineapple, kiwi fruit, bananas and plums are good sources of serotonin.

·        Herbs such as ginseng, chamomile, lavender and saffron work as natural serotonin supplements.

·        Ayurvedic studies suggest that Brahmi leaves (Bacopa monnieri/water hyssop) can help balance the serotonin levels.

·        Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.

Happy Hormones
what are happy hormones
how to increase happy hormones
what triggers happy hormones
Chamomile tea is a natural source of serotonin

3.  Oxytocin

If the emotional bond and trust between young Elliot and ET makes you want to protect them even 40 years after the movie was released, be assured your oxytocin hormones are working just fine!

Oxytocin is known by various nicknames such as love hormone, cuddle hormone and bonding hormone.

This happy hormone is responsible for parent-child bonding, pro social behavior including trust, compassion and positive communication. Also known as maternal hormone, it is crucial for the reproductive functions such as labor, childbirth and lactation. It plays an important role in moving the sperm in men.

Ø What triggers this happy hormone?

·        Yoga is one of the effective ways to increase the levels of oxytocin.

·        Spending time with friends, family, having family lunches boosts oxytocin levels.

·        Petting animals, listening to music helps to raise the levels of this happy hormone.

·        Playing with kids, sharing a hug and kiss works well too.

·        Be kind and compassionate. Try making someone happy, which in turn stimulates positive emotions in you.

·        Oxytocin is released during sexual intercourse in both women and men. Lust is good after all huh!

·        Food rich in vitamin D and C, magnesium helps to increase this hormone naturally. Include figs, avocados, spinach, watermelon and green tea in your diet as they are the natural supplements of this happy hormone.

Happy Hormones
what are happy hormones
how to increase happy hormones
what triggers happy hormones
Petting a dog triggers oxytocin levels

Did you know?

 The word oxytocin is derived from the Greek words “oxys” (quick)   and “tokos” (birth), meaning “quick birth.”

4.  Endorphins

Ever wondered why people are so ‘high’ after a good workout session?

They have endorphins to thank for.

Researchers have found that an hour of high intensity interval training (HIIT) releases a substantial dose of endorphins which gives a feeling of euphoria. This happy hormone puts you in a positive mood. They play the role of natural pain relievers i.e. they mask the pain. They also help to control your impulsive behavior, stress and discomfort. Endorphins work like morphine.

Ø How can I trigger endorphins, one of the happy hormones?

·         Sweat it out in the gym.

·         Start cardiovascular exercises such as brisk walking, running and jogging.

·        Laughter is the best therapy, watch your favorite comedy shows or movies.

·        Wine, dark chocolate, strawberries, grapes and spicy food help you raise these happy hormone levels naturally.

·        Engaging in regular sexual activity triggers the brain to release endorphins.

·        Bring out the artist in you to enhance endorphin levels.

·        Chinese acupuncture technique where small needles are inserted in your body to relieve pain is known to release endorphins.

Happy Hormones
what are happy hormones
how to increase happy hormones
what triggers happy hormones
Running stimulates brain to release endorphins

 

Conclusion

Being happy is a choice, a choice one must put into practice.

A disciplined lifestyle helps to play hormones to your tunes than being their slaves.

Love, laughter, exercise, positive mindset, balanced diet and a good day’s work helps you fill up happy hormones.

In the end, it is all about living in harmony with hormones!

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