To live a happy life, understand how your body works. The human body is an incredible machine that can create consistently good feelings if you know which hormones to activate.
Who doesn’t want to feel great, right? Everything we expose our bodies to has the ability to influence the way we feel, but we are naturally equipped with hormones that boost happiness as soon as we trigger them.
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemicals that influence how other parts of the body operate. They are produced in the glands and then travel through the bloodstream with instructions for various tissues in the body. Consider them as a management team, relaying tasks to staff.
The collection of glands that produce hormones to control reproduction, sleep, growth, sexual function, mood and more, is called the endocrine system. Different glands produce different hormones, which all relay unique messages to the body.
Which hormones boost happiness?
The main happiness hormone, serotonin, is involved in the regulation of good sleep, smooth digestion, and a happy mood. According to Healthline, people with low serotonin levels may experience nausea, digestion issues, feel anxious, irritable, fatigued, and crave sweet and carb-rich foods.
3 major ways to increase your body’s serotonin levels are:
- Exercise at a level that you’re comfortable with, ensuring that you get your heart rate up.
- Spend time in sunshine or try Light Therapy which uses an artificial light source to compensate for a lack of exposure to the sun.
- Increase your intake of tryptophan, an important amino acid that is not produced by the body and can only be obtained through diet. Good sources of tryptophan include food like spinach, seeds, nuts, eggs, poultry, milk and salmon. A study by the National Library of Medicine found that eating carbs releases serotonin while eating protein lacks this effect. This is why you crave carbs when you’re feeling down and feel better after eating them. The objective should be to eat healthy unprocessed carbs such as whole grains, vegetables, and potatoes.
Dubbed the feel-good hormone, dopamine helps us feel pleasure and reward. It then motivates us to repeat actions that release the hormone. It’s produced by amino acids that can be found in protein-rich foods such as unprocessed beef and chicken, salmon, mackerel, eggs, almonds, walnuts, bananas, and dark chocolate.
Regular exercise also plays a major role in the production of dopamine, as well as breathing exercises, and a good sleep routine.
Also known as the love hormone, our bodies naturally produce oxytocin during human bonding. This hormone can be triggered while hugging, cuddling or even just looking at someone you love. It’s considered a happiness hormone since oxytocin is known to reduce anxiety and stress levels, and also helps us release other happiness hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.
Great ways to naturally boost oxytocin is to spend time with friends and family, get a massage (perhaps even from a partner), acts of kindness, interacting with pets, and having orgasms.
This happiness hormone helps with stress management, reduces anxiety and maintains a balanced mood. Since stress hormones such as cortisol affect the secretion of other hormones like serotonin, it’s important to avoid lifestyle habits that decrease estrogen levels such as extreme exercise and smoking.
Estrogen can be boosted naturally with stress-relieving activities such as meditation and yoga.
With a similar influence on the nervous system as estrogen, progesterone helps enhance feelings of calm, reduces anxiety and promotes good sleep. It is also vital for reproduction as men need it to produce testosterone and women need it to protect their fetus during pregnancy, among other things.
Too much stress and an excess of estrogen can reduce progesterone levels, which impacts muscle growth, causes headaches, brain fog, and can even lead to breakouts.
To boost progesterone, eat foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruit, bell peppers and sweet potato. Avoid processed food, alcohol, and exposure to xeno-estrogens such as synthetic fragrances. Add more foods that contain zinc, vitamin e, magnesium and vitamin B6 to your diet.
It’s also important to prioritise downtime to reduce stress levels. This can be done by listening to music, reading and enjoying relaxing activities such as meditation.
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Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes and is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed medical doctor. BODYTEC does not diagnose, treat, or prevent any diseases. For more information on how to boost happiness hormones through exercise and diet, chat to your personal trainer in-studio who will recommend appropriate exercises and connect you to a nutrition expert.