The Oxford Dictionary describes it as a state of being happy – a feeling or showing of pleasure. The Encyclopaedia Britannica describes it as a state of well-being and contentment.
Have you noticed how happy people usually tend to look good? It is amazing how a smile can transform a face. We all know the feeling of being happy. One could describe it as a surge that rushes through us – but where exactly does this surge come from? What brings about these feelings of happiness?
Let me introduce you to dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. These three key neurotransmitters have been extensively studied and proven to be responsible for our happy feelings... as well as our feelings of sadness.
- Dopamine is related to experiences of pleasure and the learning-reward process. In other words, when you do something good, you’re rewarded with dopamine and gain a pleasurable happy feeling.
- Serotonin is associated with memory and learning. A deficiency in serotonin can result in an increase in anger, anxiety and depression.
- Norepinephrine helps moderate your mood by controlling stress and anxiety.
These neurotransmitters are produced in the brain and it is crucial that they are ‘active’ to work effectively. For example, if your body is deficient in methylating agents, this can lead to high homocysteine levels which results in inactive serotonin. Inactive serotonin causes a drop in mood and often leads to ‘the blues’.
Our Neuro-Natural product range contains key ingredients to support the function of these neurotransmitters. Who knew a healthy well-functioning brain could well lead to a happier state!
For those of you who are already taking this and want a little something extra, we all know eating cheers us up so here are a few foods sure to give you and your brain a boost.
This may not come as a surprise to many of you, but for me personally, I am glad to know that there is some science associated to my chocolate cravings! Dark chocolate reduces stress hormones, including cortisol, and this is thanks to the antioxidants in the chocolate. However, I would advise moderation or you may start having the reverse effect when you see the extra pounds creeping on.
For those of you already taking our Omega-3 Fish Oil products, sit back and relax. Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with lower risk of depression and taking a regular dosage of fish oil in a pure form has been shown to improve mood and cognitive function. This is because Omega-3s support your levels of dopamine and serotonin. So if you feel great after taking your fish oil, perhaps it’s your brain’s way of thanking you!
Healthy calcium levels alert the brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters. I would also recommend opting for organic yoghurt as pastured dairy is higher in healthy fats and often contains higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a healthy fat that reduces the effects of stress on the brain.
All tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a fat-soluble phytonutrient that has been shown to resist the build-up of compounds linked to depression. Because lycopene is found in tomato skins, the best way to get this is through cherry tomatoes which are small and therefore have more skin relative to their size! For those not fond of tomatoes, you could try our Omega 3 Premium or Omega 3 QH Ultra Fish Oil which contain Lycopene.
Now that I have given you a few ‘munchies’ to get those neurotransmitters going, I would like to say that happiness is also a state of mind. By this I mean it is often how we choose to be.
We put one of my favourite quotes up in the office last month.
I love the image it portrays of our minds being fertile soil, able to grow whatever we choose; whether it be positive or negative thoughts.
So the next time things turn a little pear-shaped, or you feel frustration and negativity set in; take a few deep breaths and stop what you are doing. Go for a walk and think of everything that IS going well, spend some time with dear friends, enjoy a spectacular sunset. You may be surprised how great these little things can make you feel.
I encourage everyone to take a pause and look around – there really are so many beautiful reasons to be happy.
In good health.