What to eat when you are feeling down? Have you ever noticed how a bite of chocolate seems to give you a mood boost? Really and scientifically, there are some foods that can stimulate endorphins. The term came from a combination of the words “endogenous” (produced within the body) and “morphine”.
Endorphins are the body’s natural opiates, designed to relieve pain and stress and induce feelings of pleasure. They are produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. Their principal function is to inhibit the transmission of pain signals; they may also produce a feeling of euphoria very similar to that produced by other opioids.
There are a few things that can do the trick: exercising, laughing, making love, and eating certain foods. Below you can find several “food-ways” to harness your natural endorphins to help life’s problems melt away.
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Chocolate is an excellent source (> 19% of the Daily Value, DV) of riboflavin, vitamin B12 and the dietary minerals: calcium (10-19% DV), manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc. Cocoa solids are a source of flavonoids and alkaloids, such as theobromine, phenethylamine and caffeine. Always choose dark chocolate, since it contains more actual chocolate and less sugar and other fillers that don’t affect your endorphins. Taking a chocolate bar with you and having a square when you need a boost is not a bad idea.
Chili, jalapeno, cayenne and other hot peppers contain capsaicin, which releases endorphins – natural opioids that released from the pituitary gland of the brain during periods of strenuous exercise, emotional stress, pain, and orgasm. Bite a piece of raw pepper while eating and when the initial fiery pain subsides, you should feel euphoria.
A bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal with a little honey, pasta with cheese, ice cream or even a pastry – people turn to these items during stressful moments because they really do make you feel better. Carbohydrate-rich comfort food releases endorphins. Indulge yourself once in a blue moon without feeling guilty. If you don’t overdo, it will not make you any harm at all. You may even try double whammy: put some chocolate chips in your oatmeal, or add chili pepper to your pasta
Who can resist the scent of freshly brewed coffee in the morning? There are lots of reasons to drink a cup of coffee, actually, the latest studies have approved up to 5 cups a day. Coffee makes us happy: a rewarding rush of dopamine is not a bad thing. Just make sure you stick to regular coffee and espresso for your daily boost. Some studies suggest that people who drink two to three cups of caffeinated coffee a day were about 15% less likely to become depressed; those who drank four or more cups were at 20% lower risk. We can probably thank caffeine for the happy boost—a psychoactive drug that works sort of like a harmless crack cocaine, increasing dopamine and serotonin transmission within just 30 minutes.
Walnuts are 4% water, 15% protein, 65% fat, and 14% carbohydrates, including 7% dietary fiber. They are rich in several dietary minerals, particularly manganese at 163% DV, and B vitamins. But what is very special about walnuts that is they are loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids – alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid LA) – 72% of total fats!!! A few recent studies suggest that people who had the most ALA in their diets were less likely to be depressed. Here’s how it works: When your blood levels of ALA are low, so are you; low ALA levels fan the flames of inflammation, which has been linked to depression. ALA also increases levels of the brain chemicals dopamine, which is responsible for feelings of joy, and serotonin, which inhibits anger and aggression.