Do you want to feel happier, zippier, and snappier? Do you want to do it naturally? Take a look at these steps to increasing your serotonin and endorphin levels.
Discovered by scientists at the Cleveland Clinic in 1948, serotonin is a naturally occurring brain chemical found in some foods that helps regulate emotions. As recently as 1975, scientists from Scotland and the US discovered endorphins, natural pain-killers, in the brain. These endorphins are popularly known as the main elements in the "runner's high," that euphoric feeling resulting from strenuous exercise. The great news is that both these happy chemicals can be increased by certain, healthy activities.
Meditation increases the serotonin levels in the brain. Even a short break to think positive, calming thoughts can provide a serotonin boost. Longer periods of meditation, prayer, or reflection, o, whether sitting with eyes closed, or walking through a garden, the beach, or forest can become helpful serotonin habits.
Some people feel more relaxed in a clutter-free environment. Organize your work spaces. Maintain clutter-free one area, preferably looking onto a garden, tree, or relaxing space. Relaxing to tinker on the car, putter in the garden, pursue crafts, listen to music, or read can amplify serotonin.
Regular exercise, about 30 minutes per day, facilitates serotonin levels. Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, stretching, walking, a leisurely swim or bike ride, housework, belly dancing or anything that gets you moving does the trick. Endorphins, in contrast, release with high levels of sustained aerobic activity, such as distance running, fast swimming, and strenuous biking. Proper hydration is essential to exercise efficiency and to augment benefits of serotonin and endorphins.
Orgasm proves a grand slam double-hitter with both exercise and pleasure to raise blissful levels of serotonin and endorphins. Acupuncture has been shown to release endorphins, too. Massages, the expensive spa package or a do-it-yourself foot, hand or scalp massage version will boost your serotonin and endorphins. Sunlight, at least 30 minutes per day, enhances the production of serotonin, too.
Laughing and smiling have a positive effect on serotonin and endorphin. Find what make you laugh and smile. Pick a funny movie over a horror flick. Turn on comedy shows, forget the crime and gore offerings on TV. Listen to music that you enjoy or comedy CDs. Even fake smiles and laughs can raise your serotonin. So if you can't get to the comedy club or a funny movie, plaster on a fake smile or practice laughing and soon you won't be faking it.
Eating the right foods to increase endorphins is simple: Capsaicin. The active ingredient in chili peppers is hot with endorphins. The smaller they are, the hotter they are. The hotter the better.
Unlike sports drinks and refined carbohydrates that provide quick energy for aerobic exercise, the use of foods to increase serotonin is more complex. While available in some foods, oral serotonin does not pass directly into the brain. Timing and combinations of foods are good ways to effectively enhance serotonin. Eat a balanced diet and use these suggestions as a guide to find what works for you!
Serotonin works hand-in-hand with amino acid tryptophan. Whey protein (think milkshakes) and turkey are high sources of tryptophan. Other tryptophan-rich proteins include lean pork, veal, chicken, white types of fish, lamb, cottage cheese, eggs, sunflower seeds, peanuts, chickpeas, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, legumes, and low-fat cheeses, milk, and yogurt.
High-serotonin foods include walnuts, bananas, pineapples, plantains, plums, and vegetables that grow underground as carrots, sweet potatoes, and whole-grain breads and pastas. Work to develop the nutritional plan that gives you energy when you work, sport, or study and helps you rest peacefully at night. During the day, focus on more proteins than unrefined carbohydrates to enhance focus and energy. During the day, eat some protein food before the carbohydrates. In the evening, to facilitate adequate sleep, start with some carbohydrate before the proteins, and eat more carbohydrates than proteins. Another day time option is to eat protein, and then carbohydrates about 2 hours later.
If needed, best choices for a night time snack are nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, herb tea with no caffeine or sugar, warm milk or soy milk. Sleeping at least 7 hours helps modulate serotonin levels.
Except at bed time, you can add a little dark chocolate. The higher the number of cacao percentage, the better. The higher the number means less sugar-and the bitterer the chocolate. About 60%-70% cacao is a good target range, or try organic cacao nibs.
Possible supplements include serotonin, 5-HTP, an enzyme in the serotonin release process, St. John's Wort extract, or vitamin B complex. Prescribed medications can react to specific foods and herbs with dangerous results, so consult your medical professional.
Endorphins seem poised, waiting in the wings, ready to jump into action when you run, eat a hot pepper, get acupuncture, or laugh. Serotonin production, a multifaceted process, requires an on-going approach for foods, exercise, and rest. The benefits of finding your serotonin plan are worth the efforts, especially including chocolate and a walk in the park.