Raise Serotonin and Endorphin Levels
Yummy Profiteroles With Fresh Cream and Chocolate Sauce
Food Can Affect Your Mood
There are days when you feel on top of the world and don’t know why. One explanation is that the foods you eat can affect your mood. Something you’ve eaten has raised your serotonin and/or endorphin levels.
If you follow the maxim of “a little of what you fancy does you good”, with the emphasis on “a little”, then try eating one of the “happy” foods to raise your mood if you’re feeling a bit low.
Top 10 Foods To Make You Happy
List from Institute of Optimum Nutrition (ION) as quoted in The Daily Mail
Alternative List of Healthy & Happy Foods from Video above
Succulent Fresh Strawberries Can Lift Your Mood
What is Serotonin?
Serotonin has been nicknamed the “happiness hormone” due to its important role in regulating mood. However, serotonin also plays an essential role in many other aspects of human body chemistry. It is a neurotransmitter which means that it transmits nerve impulses (or messages) between cells in the body. Serotonin affects your appetite, sleep patterns, memory and learning as well as your mood.
Several research studies have shown that a happy person lives an average of 10 years longer than someone who is negative or sad through their life. Serotonin can be useful in lifting mood and helping someone feel happier. There are four non-drug ways of increasing brain serotonin production. These are exposure to bright light, regular exercise, meditation and diet.
What are Endorphins?
Endorphins are released during times of heightened stress, fear or pain. Their effect on the body has been likened to that of opiates (without the chemical dependency of course). They dull the intensity of pain and have a generally calming effect. Eating particular foods have been found to increase the secretion of endorphins and these foods include chocolate and carbohydrates. Release of endorphins is also increased after periods of intense physical activity.
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What do you think?
Can eating "happy foods" improve your mood?
Happy Foods Increase Serotonin and Endorphins
Everyone has favorite foods that make them feel happy, but for the purpose of this article, happy foods are those that increase brain serotonin levels or the secretion of endorphins. Peer-reviewed scientific articles on this exact subject are difficult to find as much of the basic research has been carried out on animals rather than humans.
The following 10 foods that make you happy have been suggested by Melinda Amato of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition (ION) and quoted in The Daily Mail, a UK newspaper. Her suggestions are based on anecdotal evidence, rather than proven science, so the best way to test the theory is to try a little of each of the foods and see whether your mood improves.
Naughty But Nice Chocolate-Coated Fruit Bonbons
Chocolate (Preferably Dark Chocolate)
Luckily for the chocoholics among us, this list of happy foods includes chocolate. It came as no surprise that The Daily Mail article placed chocolate as the number one food that will make you happy.
Scientists at the Institute of Neuroscience in California are quoted as saying that eating a small piece of chocolate will “heighten sensitivity and induce euphoria” because it increases the secretion of endorphins. However, chocolate is high in both fat and sugar so you are advised to keep the quantity small when you get your chocolate “fix”.
Strawberries and Ice Cream
Strawberries and ice cream are the second and third foods on the top 10 happy list. A traditional combination, strawberries and ice cream make the perfect summer desert. English strawberries are at their best during July and August and are served throughout the Wimbledon tennis tournaments. Whether eating them makes the watching crowds good-humored is an interesting possibility. You could make a great desert and include all three of the top happy foods by sticking a chocolate flake into the ice cream next to some strawberries. A winning combination!
Eating Carbohydrate Increases Serotonin Levels
Comfort foods often contain carbohydrates. They make you feel relaxed through a slow release of proteins and carbohydrate. These types of food take the edge off your hunger pangs. Eating these will cause your serotonin levels to rise, resulting in an improvement in your mood. It is logical then that the fourth, fifth and sixth happy foods on the ION’s list are all carbohydrates. These are pasta, bread and bananas.
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Fresh Fruit, Vegetables, Nuts and Seeds - Eat 5 A Day
Maintaining good general health helps you stay in a positive frame of mind. Both the US and UK governments recommend that a balanced diet should include eating five portions of fresh fruit or vegetables every day. Not only will you feel happier and more energetic if you eat 5 a day, but you are likely to live for longer too.
This nutrition advice is echoed by the foods making places seven, eight, nine and ten on The Daily Mail’s happy food list. These places are taken by grapes, oranges, nuts and sesame seeds. All the fruits are high in vitamin C and the sesame seeds are a good source of vitamin B. These vitamins affect serotonin production and thus make you feel happier.
Other Top Ten Foods
Each person will have their own ideas about which are the top 10 foods to improve mood and well-being. The video below gives an alternative list which you may prefer. The video's list places more emphasis on eating healthily and getting a balanced diet rather than focusing purely on endorphin and serotonin production.
In my opinion the key to being a happy person is to eat a balanced diet and take regular exercise. Within your varied diet you should prepare and cook foods that you enjoy eating.