Eat Positive: Foods That Promote Happiness

August 24, 2009 By: Matsya Siosal Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit

We live in a culture where stress and depression are regular side effects of mainstream living. For treating these conditions or simply maintaining health, one thing experts can agree on is the power of a healthy, balanced diet.

banana tree in bloom

banana tree in bloom

When we live with intention we recognize that eating is one of the most important things we do each day. We cannot thrive and expect to be balanced, happy or even content if we do not appropriately nourish our bodies. Without high-quality, nutrient rich fuel on which to run, our physical selves cannot hold up to the drain and demand of contemporary lifestyles.

Among the beauty and majesty of nature is that real, whole foods provide all of the nutrients we need to not only be healthy but to experience optimum health and possibly reverse or prevent disease. Food acts on our brain chemistry through neurotransmitters, which significantly affect our mood. In fact most anti-depressants and other mood enhancing drugs work on neurotransmitters for the same affect.

Two important neurotransmitters are serotonin and dopamaine. Interestingly 80 to 90 percent of the human body’s total serotonin is located in the gut, where it regulates intestinal movement. The remainder is synthesized by the central nervous system and helps regulate mood, appetite, sleep, muscle contraction, and some cognitive functions including memory and learning. Dopamine is both a neurotransmitter and a neurohormone, produced in the brain. It has many roles in the brain including a significant affect on behavior, cognition, sleep and mood. When we are stressed out and depressed these important neurotransmitters are often out of balance and we can see why, knowing their important roles in supporting a positive mood.

Another chemical that promotes a sense of well-being is Endorphin. This chemical is released during exercise and sex, as well as at times of physical pain because it acts as a natural pain-reliever. Some healthy food choices you can make to increase the feel-good brain chemicals include:

  • Bananas ~ increase serotonin and dopamine
  • Almonds ~ increase dopamine
  • Dark Chocolate ~ stimulates the release of serotonin
  • Avocados ~ increase levels of dopamine
  • Vegetable fats ~ increase endorphin levels

Some quick and healthy snacks for eating positive:

  • Banana with a few spoonfuls of raw almond butter
  • Handful of cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips and a handful of raw almonds
  • Trail mix of raw almonds, dark chocolate, raw shredded coconut
  • Salad of sliced avocado, onion and tomato dressed with fresh herbs and lime juice
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  4. Mindful Eating: Cruciferous Vegetables for Hormone Balance | Touchstones of the Sacred 12 11 09
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