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 randomised 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 yoghurt 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 mobilise 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
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