It’s the only place you have to live in…
One body, treat it well. One life, live it well…
It’s the only place you have to live in…
One body, treat it well. One life, live it well…
Having just finished a fantastic online course ‘Happiness and living a Fulfilling Life’ with the Indian School of Business I have been looking at all the ways we can enhance the amount of happiness in our lives from the inside out.
And would you believe it, some of that happy stuff can be found on a plate near you! If you want to raise your happiness levels here are a few foods that will help you on your way:
Walnuts & Flax Seeds – These are loaded with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Get the right amount of ALA in your diet to keep good levels of the brain chemicals, dopamine (responsible for increasing feelings of joy) and serotonin (hinders anger & aggression). [In research from the Nurses’ Health Study, women who had the most ALA in their diets were less likely to be depressed]
Clams – They are packed with vitamin B12 and B12 is needed to make… dopamine and serotonin; our two good get high friends! Other seafood will do the same if clams aren’t your thing. Try trout or salmon. [In a study depressed people who had low levels of B12 (and were taking antidepressants) felt much better 3 months after adding a B12 supplement]
Radishes – Now I’ve got to be honest, these are not a ‘few of my favourite things’ (thank you Julie Andrews) however they can lift your mood by stimulating the release of dopamine and norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline). See footnote.
Oysters – back to the sea for these slippery little delicacies. They are one of the richest sources of zinc. Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It is needed for the body’s defensive system to properly work and when your body is working optimally you feel better… simples! [In a 2013 randomized clinical trial involving 44 people with depression, those who were given a 25 mg zinc supplement along with an antidepressant enjoyed improved moods over the 12-week study period, more so than those just given an antidepressant]
Yoghurt – if like me you have a love of dairy products you’ll be glad to see this on the happy list. Live & active cultured dairy products enhance your levels of probiotic bacteria (the healthy kind in your gut). Because your brain and gut communicate with each other via the vagus nerve (the tenth pair of cranial nerves, supplying the heart, lungs, upper digestive tract, and other organs of the chest and abdomen) it is possible that the good bacteria sends a ‘let’s chill out’ message. [A UCLA study found that women who ate probiotic yogurt twice a day reacted less stressfully when shown pictures of angry and frightened faces]
Shiitake Mushrooms – Contains high selenium and magnesium providing an uplifting effect on your mood. See footnote.
Dark chocolate – yes, saving the tastiest for last on what could be an endless list! Dear chocoholics know that the darker the chocolate the better. It is loaded with chemicals such as polyphenols that can boost your mood, but don’t over do it! [One polyphenol actually mimics marijuana’s mood-boosting effects.). In a 2013 study, Australian researchers reported that volunteers who chugged the biggest dose of a dark-chocolate drink laced with zero, 250, or 500 mg of polyphenols, also got a shot of calm and contentment]
Had I continued researching I am certain the list would have gone on and on but I think this is a decent start. So, if you want to get happy, apart from choosing to be, you can also aid it from the inside out by upping your intake of happy foods.
Get high on good food! And if you have any other happy food tips and contributions post them here to help others get happy…
One Life, Live It Well,
The function of norepinephrine is to mobilize the brain and body for action. In the brain norepinephrine increases arousal and alertness, promotes vigilance, enhances formation and retrieval of memory, and focuses attention
Selenium is a trace mineral. The body only needs it in small amounts. Selenium helps the body with: Making special proteins, called antioxidant enzymes, which play a role in preventing cell damage.
Magnesium helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heart beat steady, and helps bones remain strong. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein
http://www.prevention.com/food/food-remedies/foods-proven-boost-mood-and-happiness – Research and studies quoted
‘I feel so stressed’… heard it before? You’re the lucky one if you’ve never said it or felt it! For most of us stress rears its head at some point and when extreme can cause us huge amounts of physical and emotional distress. So decreasing stress on your plate is essential for living a calmer, happier life.
What is stress?
Stress can be defined as the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Pressure becomes stress when you feel unable to cope. We all react differently to stress, so what is stressful to you may be motivating to someone else.
The primary causes of stress are:
Your assessment of what is going on around you and whether you think it is worthy of anxiety
How your body reacts to your thought processes.
This is where your instinctive responses kick in – ‘fight or flight’. They are hard wired reactions to any perceived threats that have the ability to affect your survival. The threats these responses were great for are no longer (or rarely) experienced (for example, fighting wild animals) however your response mechanism remains the same – not great for many of today’s situations.
Stress affects the fight/flight reaction, changing your body’s physiology.
Hormones that help you to run faster or fight harder are activated, your heart rate and blood pressure increases (delivering more oxygen and blood sugar to power up your muscles) and you sweat more to cool these muscles, helping them to remain efficient. The hormones also divert your blood away from your skin in order to reduce any blood loss if you are hurt. In addition breathing speeds up to supply more oxygen to produce more energy.
You have probably felt your heart beat change when in stress mode, doing its best to supply the body with more oxygen and nutrients.
Add to all that your immune system being activated in order to administer to wounds and you start to get a picture of why stress is as much a physical experience as a mental one and why too much of it can, literally, kill you. What you end up seeing in this heightened state is a hostile environment and you react accordingly.
The bad news: the more frequently you experience these stress symptoms the more active your fight / flight responses become.
What’s the impact of stress?
Here are a few stats from the UK around work related stress:
The total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2013/14 was 487 000 (39%) out of a total of 1 241 000 cases for all work-related illnesses
The number of new cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2013/14 was 244 000 (so it has doubled!)
The total number of working days lost due to stress, depression or anxiety was 11.3 million in 2013/14, an average of 23 days per case of stress, depression or anxiety
Know Your Stress Hormones
Adrenaline – produced by the adrenal glands after receiving a message from the brain that a stressful situation has presented itself – the initial response
Norepinephrine – released from the adrenal glands and the brain to arouse, awake, focus
Cortisol – a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands – kicks in after the other two (and is known for causing food cravings – in women these cravings tend to be strongest for carbohydrates)
What Aids Stress Reduction?
Serotonin – a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance (carbohydrates prompt the brain to make more of this)
Dopamine – helps regulate movement and emotional responses (tyrosine rich foods help boost dopamine production – ex. fish, eggs, and spirulina)
A healthy diet – can help counter the impact of stress because it builds a healthy immune system and lowers blood pressure
Carbohydrates at bedtime – can speed the release of the brain chemical serotonin and help you sleep better
To keep stress off your plate, consider getting some of these in your diet:
Warm oatmeal – it boosts levels of serotonin calming the brain
Oranges make the list for their wealth of vitamin C – curbing levels of stress hormones while strengthening the immune system
Calcium – it eases anxiety and mood swings linked to PMS
One cup of spinach helps you stock back up on magnesium
Cooked soybeans or a fillet of salmon
Omega-3 fatty acids
Half an avocado – good source of potassium, good for high blood pressure
Bedtime helpers: jam on wholemeal bread, a glass or warm milk
And reduce take-aways, fizzy drinks and processed foods – they won’t aid stress!
And if all else fails there is always… Exercise!
Studies have shown time and time again that moving (walking, running, biking, swimming) changes the balance of stress hormones in the brain.
When your body is stronger and healthier, exercise aids your ability to respond to stress, reducing the negative effects such as anxiety and depression. Exercise can also help flush out hundreds of chemicals released in response to a stressful situation, helping you to return to a normal state quicker.
Also consider meditative exercise like yoga to better manage your body’s ability to remain calm or get back to calm effectively.
Decreasing stress on your plate will help you have a calmer, happier life. Take care of you!
Healthy Living, Happier Life
Stress Management Society
I am and will always remain intrigued by the intricacies of our make up, the way the body pieces together to move fluidly; the wiring of the brain to send specific messages to create a movement, a thought, a wish. We are incredibly built, more powerful than most of us will realise in our lifetime and yet we often choose to take this for granted and misuse it.
Like a finely tuned car we require a regular MOT, a long run and some TLC to operate optimally and one of the things we can do to make sure we stay finely tuned is watch what we eat. Mmmm, yes, a tricky subject! But let’s look at some facts…
Does Brain Food Exist?
Oh yes! Just like the rest of the body there are foods we can eat to enhance our brain power.
The brain requires some very specific things to work well and you might want to take note. It requires:
Some other key sources include certain B vitamins, blackcurrant, broccoli, sage and nuts.
What Happens If You Eat These Foods?
The additional benefits of eating the food types listed above include reduced brain shrinkage, mental agility, enhanced cognitive function, improved brain power and improved memory. Not a list to be sniffed at!
So if you’ve been struggling to stay focused, to retain information or engage with a level of mental agility that you feel you have, you might want to check your diet. Are you doing everything you can to remain mentally healthy or are you resigned to letting it all slip away blaming the ageing process? The choices we have, the decisions we make!
What Are Some Easy Steps To Improve Your Brain Power?
Get your thinking heads on and post some other cool, fun or wacky ways to improve brain power; I’m open to ideas and new ways. And remember, what you feed your brain matters!
One Life, Live It Well
Sources of information:
As a pretty solid sleeper myself I really empathize with people who struggle to sleep because on the rare occasion I have had what I would describe as sleep deprivation I have been moody, unfocused and in need of sugar fixes (or at least that’s what I told myself!)
So, how does poor sleep affect your eating habits?
It’s likely to increase your food intake – On the rare occasion I have struggled to sleep eating has been a favourite way to pass the time. And a study carried out by the Mayo Clinic in 2012 found that those individuals who didn’t get enough sleep consumed approximately 549 calories more per day.
Late night snacks could become your norm – Here’s the thing, when you are losing sleep you are likely to feel more tired. If you feel more tired you’ll probably want to exercise less and eat more. Late night snacks might become a habit you don’t want so think before you eat.
The types of food you crave are unlikely to be good quality – Never having lost sleep have I thought ‘I’ll just go and get me a salad’. No, not a chance! Chocolate, crisps and all things sweet (loaded with calories & fat) tend to be the food of choice. Read ‘How sleep deprivation makes us want to eat fat‘
Poor quality food equates to poor nourishment – Ultimately adding up the results above also means you are likely to deprive your body of the food types it needs to repair, recover and function well.
Okay, that’s all a bit doom and gloom so lets think about what can be done to aid sleep. Here are some fab food tips taken from ‘Foods that help you sleep’ slideshow that could help:
Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan. It is a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin, the hormone that sets your sleep-wake cycles. Also walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, which may help you fall asleep faster.
Cheese and crackers – one of my favourites! Calcium helps the brain use the tryptophan found in dairy to manufacture sleep-triggering melatonin.
Lettuce – it contains lactucarium, which has sedative property and affects the brain in a similar way to opium (yikes; is that a good thing??!)
Fish high in vitamin B6 – required by your body to make melatonin and serotonin (pistachios & raw garlic are also great sources of B6).
White rice – it has a high glycemic index (a number associated with a particular type of food that indicates the food’s effect on a person’s blood sugar level), so eating it will cut the time it takes you to fall asleep, according to an Australian study.
Chamomile Tea – According to researchers, chamomile tea is associated with an increase of glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and acts like a mild sedative.
Honey – A spoonful before bed (or with chamomile tea) could give you a more restful sleep. Key takeaway here; eat better food to aid sleep in the first instance and should you have a poor night’s sleep be aware of what you are eating.
Don’t let bad habits set in… Eat to sleep.
One health, live it well!
Getting right with food is easy if you have always been around good healthy food and it has become your norm. Or, if you are the type of person who decides on making a change and goes all out to attain it.
Unfortunately that is not the case for most people.
There is an awful lot of C.R.A.P food out there, easy to get, day or night and so it becomes the norm. It destroys peoples health whilst ‘tasting so good’ the demand goes up instead of down; even when the visible signs of its harm are clear to see.
This little poster & short blog post serves as a reminder that what we put into our bodies matters.
Choose to live on the FOOD side; it’s what your body needs to function optimally! And remember:
I am constantly learning about my physical & mental capabilities, it fascinates me and here are a few ‘did you know’ facts I picked up from The Health Sciences Academy that I’d like to share (although you might already know them!):
And this list isn’t even scratching the surface! It provides a little insight into what makes us so amazing; something we often forget (or take for granted).
It’s your body, but did you know it was this amazing? Share a fact below…
To Your Health & Wellbeing,