How To Hack Your Happiness Hormones
01 June 2021
Happiness, as it turns out, isnt just a feeling. By maintaining the hormonal balance of the bodys four happy hormones, youll keep your mood and mind functioning optimally.
Most researchers on the topic of happiness agree that both nature and nurture play a role. A well-known 2005 study by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Kennon M Sheldon and David Schkade devised a happiness pie chart, which suggested that happiness was made up of 50% genetics, 10% life circumstances and 40% intentional activities.
This is good news as it gives you considerable leeway to improve your happiness levels, no matter where you find yourself on that scale. Nutritional medicine practitioner Beatrice Rabkin explains how to improve the chemicals in the brain that make you happy.
Brain Chemicals That Make You Happy
We spend a lot of time discussing ways to be happier – maintain close friendships, look on the bright side, drink more water. But we dont often think about how we feel happiness. Did you know that the warmth you feel from a long hug is caused by an entirely different chemical sensation than the high you feel after a long run or bike ride?
DOSE: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins
So then, whats the real cause of our happiness? What makes us feel sensations of happiness, closeness, and joy? Brain chemicals! There are four primary chemicals that can drive the positive emotions you feel throughout the day: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins .
Endorphins: The Runners Hormone
Endorphins make you happy, but not in the way you might think. Endorphins are hormones and neuro-signalling molecules that function as painkillers. They inhibit the transmission of pain signals in the central nervous system by binding to opioid receptors .
Boost your endorphins with running
Endorphins and dopamine are often confused because each one is a chemical that makes you happy in the broad sense of the term. However, they are in some ways related because, when endorphins bind to receptors of the central nervous system, dopamine is released.
Yet, happy endorphins didnt rise to fame because they block pain signals, but because they induce euphoria. Thats right, the ubiquitous runners high is caused by a big rush of endorphins. Plus, the potent combination of endorphins and dopamine explains why people get hooked on running.
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It May Improve Mental Performance In Stressful Situations
Stress is something that everyone experiences.
This stress can negatively affect your reasoning, memory, attention and knowledge by decreasing neurotransmitters .
For example, rodents who were exposed to cold had impaired memory due to a decline in neurotransmitters .
However, when these rodents were given a tyrosine supplement, the decline in neurotransmitters was reversed and their memory was restored.
While rodent data does not necessarily translate to humans, human studies have found similar results.
In one study in 22 women, tyrosine significantly improved working memory during a mentally demanding task, compared to a placebo. Working memory plays an important role in concentration and following instructions .
In a similar study, 22 participants were given either a tyrosine supplement or placebo before completing a test used to measure cognitive flexibility. Compared to the placebo, tyrosine was found to improve cognitive flexibility .
Cognitive flexibility is the ability to switch between tasks or thoughts. The quicker a person can switch tasks, the greater their cognitive flexibility.
Additionally, supplementing with tyrosine has been shown to benefit those who are sleep deprived. A single dose of it helped people who lost a nights sleep stay alert for three hours longer than they otherwise would .
And while tyrosine may provide cognitive benefits, no evidence has suggested that it enhances physical performance in humans .
Happier In The Long Term
The effect of these smile-generating hormones is not only restricted to the time during and immediately after training. In the course of actual physical effort, the brain releases dopamine and serotonin only within certain regions. But if you exercise regularly, the hormone concentration grows continuously in many areas of the brain. Side effects therefore include a sustainable improvement of concentration and an increase of happiness and satisfaction – not too bad!
Short and intense exercise sessions such as Freeletics also help to reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol, even in the long run. Thus, your resilience concerning stress increases, whether the stress is physical or mental. Nevertheless, you should be careful. Too much exercising can also have an opposite effect and turn up your cortisol level. Your body perceives overtraining as a form of negative stress. Therefore, you should listen to your body!
Every time you feel a sense of achievement after a workout, your self-confidence increases step-by-step and this, in turn, pushes you to achieve even more. In the long run, you’ll not only get fitter and more athletic, but also more optimistic, confident, satisfied, powerful â and happier!
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Give Your Happy Hormones A Break
While these happy hormones help us to feel better, it is important to remember their roles in human survival.
Endorphins mask pain, which is useful temporarily. However, if pain were masked all the time, we would end up seriously injuring ourselves by pushing our bodies too hard.
Similarly, oxytocin is wonderful for building trusting relationships. But if we trusted everybody all the time, wed fall for every scam on the planet.
Too much dopamine would make us strive towards every goal with no ability to prioritise meaningfully. It also causes addiction.
What Are The Different Happy Hormones
Together, these feel-good heroes ensure our good mood and mental health. Meet the most important ones and get to know their effects:
|increases feelings of trust and bonding, reduces stress|
|Adrenaline and Noradrenaline||help our response to short-term stress increase concentration and readiness for action|
|Endorphins||inhibit the perception of pain, enhance motivation|
|Phenylethylamine||increases the sensation of pleasure and the feeling of being in love|
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Evidence Regarding Its Effects On Depression Is Mixed
Tyrosine has also been said to help with depression.
Depression is thought to occur when the neurotransmitters in your brain become unbalanced. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to help realign and balance them (
The thyroid hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine help regulate growth and metabolism in the body.
Its important that T3 and T4 levels are neither too high nor too low.
Supplementing with tyrosine may influence these hormones .
This is because tyrosine is a building block for the thyroid hormones, so supplementing with it might raise their levels too high.
Therefore, people who are taking thyroid medications or have an overactive thyroid should be cautious when supplementing with tyrosine.
How To Support Dopamine Levels With Food
Dopamine is derived from the amino acid tyrosine, so making sure you are eating enough healthy proteins is important, Dr. Gossard noted. “Protein is going to give you these amino acids, which will ultimately be used to create these necessary, feel-good hormones.”
Would you believe that chocolateknown mainly for supporting serotonin productionmay also support dopamine levels? Sweet!
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Happy Hormone #: Endorphins
Endorphins block pain. They are the bodys natural painkillers.
Historically, endorphins helped our ancestors to keep on running through the pain in order to escape from predators. Today, we produce endorphins when exercising in our anaerobic zones. When rigorous exercise depletes our muscles of glycogen , endorphins allow us to push on. This is why we often feel blisters only after and not during the activity.
Ways to increase endorphins:
Exercise rigorously: Anaerobic exercise helps us to cope with chronic pains by activating our bodies natural painkillers. Endorphins dont really help us to feel good, but they do help us feel less bad.
Eat spicy food: Receptors on our tongues react to spice by sending signals to our brains similar to pain signals. This triggers the production of endorphins.
Activating Happy Hormones In Our Brain Heres How
Happiness is a complex interaction of our many hormones. Many of these interactions are beyond your control, but you can influence others with certain lifestyle factors: If you know how, you can help the chemistry work in your favor.
Here are our best tips on how to boost your bodys natural happy hormones and bliss out:
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Can Foods Increase Dopamine
The decline in dopamine signalling with age has led to research into how to solve this problem. Dopamine cant be found in food, so you cant eat it, which is why scientists looked to its precursor molecules for answers.
As it happens, the body can turn tyrosine – an amino acid – into dopamine via a complex chain of reactions. Tyrosine is found in food, and many online sources tell people to eat tyrosine-rich foods to boost their dopamine levels.
However, the reality is somewhat different. Studies looking at tyrosine supplementation to support dopamine signalling in the brain offer very different results. Some indicate that it can help but only when dopamine function is intact, while others show that it doesnt, and may even be detrimental in older people.
Is dopamine an endorphin? No, endorphins naturally relieve pain and cause euphoria. Dopamine happiness comes from the brains reward system.
Can Hormones Make You Happy
The feelings we experience are nothing more than chemical reactions taking place inside our bodies.
Each and every emotion we experience is a the result of the release of certain hormones inside our bodies. Some hormones are responsible for making us feel good, some are responsible for making us feel bad while some others are responsible for the feelings we get when we fall in love with someone.
The important question now is, can someone become happy if he alerted these hormones inside his body?
Yes that will certainly work however you must put in mind that unless you deal with the root cause of your problems your happiness wont last for prolonged periods.
For example if you had a fight with your best friend then doing any of the actions that stimulate the release of happiness hormones might help you feel good for a short period of time but in the end your bad feelings will return.
So if the hormones won’t help you feel good for prolonged periods of time then why its still recommended that you learn how to tweak them?
Simply because they can help you ease your pain and feel better until you deal with your problems Read this article to know how to force release the hormones that can make you happy.
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Are Hormones Really Effective
Yes they are, but just as i said, if you didnt tackle the root cause that is making you feel bad then these hormones will only act as pain killers and not as a permanent solution to your bad moods.
When I encounter a problem I do my best to solve it and while doing this I get some aid from these hormones so that I reduce the pain as much as possible until my problem is solved.
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D Is For Dopamineand Its Also For Drive
Dopamine literally drives our brains reward system, urging us to seek pleasure and motivating us to achieve goals. It also regulates our emotional responses, enabling us not only to identify where rewards might be, but also to take action to move toward them.
Low levels of Dopamine can result in a lack of enthusiasm & motivation and in self-doubt & procrastination and it can also lead to obsessive and/or addictive behaviour.
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Cook A Favorite Meal With A Loved One
This tip could in theory boost all four of your happy hormones.
The enjoyment you get from eating something delicious can trigger the release of dopamine along with endorphins. Sharing the meal with someone you love, and bonding over meal preparation, can boost oxytocin levels.
Certain foods can also have an impact on hormone levels, so note the following when meal planning for a happy hormone boost:
- spicy foods may trigger endorphin release
- yogurt, beans, eggs, meats with low-fat content, and almonds are just a few foods linked to dopamine release
- foods high in tryptophan have been linked to increased serotonin levels
- foods containing probiotics, such as yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut, can influence the release of hormones
Experts studying the effects of supplements have found varied results. Many studies involved animals only, so more research is needed to help support the benefits of supplements for humans.
Supplements may be helpful, but some arent recommended for people with certain health conditions. They can also interact with certain medications, so talk to a healthcare provider before you try them.
If you do take any supplements, read all package instructions and stick to the recommended dose, since some can have negative effects at high doses.
Music can give more than one of your happy hormones a boost.
Listening to instrumental music, especially music that gives you chills, can increase dopamine production in your brain.
How To Boost Happy Hormones
Although many activities can give your brain a boost of happiness, the two most effective ways are eating healthy and exercising, Starkman says.
Eat right. “If you have a healthy diet that is broad and doesn’t eliminate things, theoretically, you should have enough of these ,” Starkman says. “Having a good, balanced diet is good for overall well-being.”
And while you can’t get any of these chemicals directly from foods, Starkman says you can eat foods high in tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted to serotonin in the body. Tryptophan is mostly found in high-protein foods, like meat, fish, and poultry. Some research shows that eating carbohydrates with tryptophan-rich foods can help the body absorb it.
Because about 95% of serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, it is important to eat foods that promote gut health to boost serotonin. A healthy diet helps to boost more than serotonin it is also linked to dopamine regulation in the brain.
A 2018 study found that low levels of omega-3 fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids are a major component of brain function. Low levels of omega-3 fats and fatty acids affect the brain’s dopamine systems and, when combined with genetic and other factors, increase the risk of developing disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and depression.
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Hormones That Make You Happy
If you ask your friends or colleagues what makes them happy you will definitely get answers like my family, my partner, my pet, money, success, my job/hobby. All of these answers have one thing in common: they are describing something external. But all our emotions positive and negative are born within our bodies, through a series of chemical processes and reactions. This might be what psychologists and motivational speakers refer to when they say that happiness starts within. Its not just a metaphysical gibberish nonsense. It does start within, with the help of happy hormones.
Hormones are special chemical messengers, responsible for all major bodily functions. They make us alert or sleepy, relaxed or tense, exhausted and energetic. But what hormone makes you happy?
Its not one, not two, but a combination of several feel good hormones that do the trick. These are dopamine, serotonin, endorphin and oxytocin.
Serotonin: The Ultimate Mood Booster
Why do you need serotonin?
Serotonin is the bodys sleep and mood regulator and stabiliser. Research has shown that it is linked to wellbeing and longevity.
Do you have low serotonin?
If you are experiencing extreme moodiness, your tryptophan levels may be depleted, which can sometimes result in depression and anxiety, explains Beatrice. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that creates niacin, which is important in the production of serotonin.
If only you could eat serotonin
Egg yolks from naturally reared, free-range chicken, as well as nuts and seeds, are very high in tryptophan, she says. A recent study also showed that pineapples and ripe tomatoes are serotonin boosters.
How else can you increase your serotonin?
Regular exercise has antidepressant effects, as does a daily dose of safe sunshine, which is recommended for SAD , says Beatrice. A healthy gut with an abundance of diverse microorganisms goes a long way in ensuring good health but it also boosts serotonin and improves your emotional wellbeing.
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