Doctors, natural therapists and experts in the media tell you what you should be doing to stay healthy. But do you know why you are doing these things, and why they not only make you healthy but also happy? When I ask my patients what makes them happy, for most they describe happiness as a feeling of physical and mental balance. When we are happy we all radiate health. People say we are glowing. In fact we feel like we are glowing!
Feeling unhealthy, ill, is certainly one of the major reasons for people to feel ‘low’, down, depressed, frustrated and even angry. Physical symptoms can range from headaches, aches and pains, stomach and/or digestive issues to physical and emotional exhaustion. These ‘stress’ factors often wreak havoc on people in their daily lives, both in their work and personal relationships. It is often those closest that bear the emotional brunt. So how do we break this vicious circle and naturally increase our feel-good hormones and essentially make ourselves healthy and as a result, happy?
90% of Serotonin, our feel-good hormone, is produced in the gut from a dietary amino acid called tryptophan. It is a very important neurotransmitter that relays signals throughout the brain. Of the more than 40 million brain cells, most of the brain functions are influenced in some way by Serotonin, including sleep, mood, sexual desire, appetite and social behavior. So increasing your Serotonin levels will have a positive effect on the body.
Eating Whole Foods For A Happy Heart
Certain foods, particularly those with tryptophan, can make you feel good, not only in a comforting way but also on a hormonal level. Eating a balanced, whole food diet with small amounts of animal products is one of the key elements to keeping us on a high. As studies show that tryptophan depletion can alter the judgement of intimacy in romantic relationships, it is fair to say it will also help you to ‘feel-good’ and more connected to your partner.
Eat a diet of mostly vegetables and fruits like pineapple, add some soybeans and oatmeal. Eat seeds, like chia and pepitas and nuts as well as salmon and a little turkey. Avoid sugar, milk products and any processed food. If it comes pre-packaged, it’s not a whole food.
Exercising For A Happy Body
Many studies indicate that exercise can help to improve mood and in fact can raise brain serotonin levels. 2
Moderate levels of physical exercise also makes you feel physically better, more in touch with your body, and helps to decrease stress. Being in a stressed state causes the body to release adrenalin and cortisol, which make you less patient and less able to connect. These should only be released when you are under threat. So leave the arguments behind and rid your body of these stress hormones by running, or biking, or by whatever physical activity you enjoy doing. For example you could routinely exercise after work with your partner. You’ll feel more energetic and happier together, as well as giving each other the incentive to keep going. Start slowly though! This is the most important thing I tell my patients. From zero to 100 is counter-productive!
Sunlight For a Happy Soul
Get out! Even on a cloudy day you get more than 1000 lux. Sunlight makes us happy! Why? Because sunlight increases Serotonin in the brain, particularly on bright days, and even in winter. We know it can treat seasonal depression, but studies show that it can also be effective for other forms of depression. Compared to some decades ago, where life was more agriculturally based, we live in a sunlight deprived society. If you are feeling frustrated or unable to control your impulses, go out over lunch, in the morning, and after work. Reports show that increased exposure to bright light makes people less argumentative and in general in higher spirits.3
One can buy a special lux lamp, but if you can, there is nothing like the real thing. And what nicer way to connect to your partner, than spending time in the sun together!
Micronutrients and Probiotics For a Happy Brain and Gut
Make sure you have your micronutrients and probiotics to supplement your morning routine. Even when it’s raining and you have absolutely no time to prepare the perfect meal, nor get enough of the exercise you need, micronutrients and probiotics are there to support you. They help to fuel your gut and brain, nourish your immune system, feed your gut with essential bacteria and generally bring you back into balance, both mentally and physically.
This will allow you to better cope with any stressful environment you find yourself in. Nourish the gut, to nourish the brain and you will be sending the right signals, externally and internally. A healthy gut, helps your brain know what’s what!
Feeling healthy, as a definition by the WHO, describes health not only as physical health, but also emotional and mental health, and only with all three can you truly be healthy. Become healthy and as a consequence happy and this will spill over into your work and personal life!