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No, You Can’t Eat Serotonin

As explained in an earlier blog, Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that causes you to feel the sensation of happiness. One of the key ingredients of serotonin is the amino acid Tryptophan. Isn’t that the thing found in turkey that makes us sleepy on Thanksgiving? Yes. And without this amino acid, your body cannot produce serotonin. Therefore as logic would dictate, eat as much turkey as you want and you should be feeling happy in no time! Unfortunately, that’s not how it works!

When you eat protein-rich foods like poultry, you’re not just eating Tryptophan, you’re eating several other amino acids all of which are competing for a coveted place in the brain. In the end, not much of the tryptophan makes it through the blood-brain barrier and very little serotonin is synthesized. Therefore eating a ton of turkey or other tryptophan-rich foods will not turn your frown upside down instead try carbs.

Wait? Carbs are bad for you, right? Well, it’s a much-heated debate. In regards to producing serotonin, carbs are probably the best thing you can eat. Let’s dive deeper. Carbs like oatmeal, buckwheat, and quinoa contain tryptophan. When carbs are digested, your pancreas releases insulin which decreases your overall blood sugar and also filters competing amino acids from the blood. However, insulin does not bond with tryptophan – leaving this amino acid as the sole contender to pass through the blood-brain barrier.

We aren’t talking about carbs like white bread and sugar, we are talking about complex carbs, carbs that take a while to break down in the body and specifically carbs that contain tryptophan. For a complete list of foods that have a high amount of tryptophan check out the list on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryptophan

The next time you feel sad and are looking for a way to boost your mood, trying making yourself a bowl of oatmeal with some nonfat milk, apples, raisins, and cinnamon. It’s healthy, it has a lot of tryptophan and you won’t raise your glycemic index and have that “crash” feeling later.

The Pros And Cons Of Retail Therapy

There are some people who have a difficult time handling all of the stress that life has to offer. While some take the clinical route and seek professional help, there are others who look for other ways to boost their moods. Shopping is a pastime that is often used to help people brighten their spirits. With that said, there are some pros and cons one should be aware of if this is the mood booster they plan to use.

PROS of Retail Therapy

Anxiety Relief

When you are dealing with anxiety, it can be hard to find a way to put those feelings to the side and replace them with positive ones. Even so, shopping tends to occupy a large part of the brain. It is really easy to forget all of your worries when you have things like prices, item selection, and sales to worry about.

Cost-Effective

Before you start questioning how spending money can be cost-effective, listen up. If you head out to the stores with a set budget in mind and you make sure not to exceed it, it can be a very low-cost way to relieve stress. If you consider the fact that psychotherapy is typically costly, shopping seems like an idea that is more wallet-friendly.

CONS of Retail Therapy

Temporary Solution

While you may feel happy when you are at the store buying all of the things you want, there will be a time when you will need to come back to reality. Basically, it is fine to shop in order to temporarily take your mind off of things, but this is surely not the road to contentment.

Additional Problems

You may believe that shopping will stop you from feeling stressed, but what happens when you have an off day and you spend more money than you intended to? Unfortunately, retail therapy often comes with a price, literally and figuratively. If you go too far over budget, you will build up credit debt that you are not able to pay back. This can lead to even more problems down the road. If you are in credit debt and are being pestered by collection agencies, you should contact a collection defense attorney.

Setting up a budget was discussed above, but the reality is that it can be hard to stick to that when you feel all of your worries piling up. You do not want to trade in some of your issues in exchange for others.

There is nothing wrong with using shopping to ease your mind and escape from your reality for a bit. With that being said, keep in mind that everything you are dealing with will have to be handled at some point. While a little shopping spree can help a bit, it is certainly not the key to your happiness.

Sunshine and Happiness

Released in 1963, Lesley Gore released a song called “Sunshine, Lollipop, and Rainbows”. In this song, she states that these three things are what she feels when she is with her significant other. Therefore, the phrase “sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows” is synonymous with the term Happy! But there is there any truth to these lyrics? Can sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows make you feel happy? While the jury is still out of lollipops and rainbows, the truth of the matter is that sunshine (or the vitamin that our bodies create from sunlight) can indeed make you happy!

Well, that’s also not entirely true either. Vitamin D deficiency (when your body doesn’t make enough vitamin D) can cause depression. There have been several studies that show that in the winter people become more depressed because their bodies are not able to produce enough Vitamin D. Therefore, scientists believe that the converse is true. If you are feeling depressed, stepping outside into the sunlight, or eating vitamin D enriched foods can improve your mood. Vitamin D is also used to help regulate cell growth, maintains the immune system and protects bones.

For those who are fair skinned, we do not expect you to stand outside and get sunburnt because I don’t think that would make you happy. All it takes is 10 minutes a day of sunlight to help ensure that you are making enough Vitamin D. And for those who are just adamant against sunlight eating things like eggs, salmon, swordfish, mushrooms, and milk can help boost your Vitamin D as well.

So the next time you listen to Lesley Gore on the oldies music station, just remember that when she sings about sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, she’s singing about how happy she is!

Different Foods That Can Increase Your Productivity At Work

One of the best ways to boost your productivity is through diet. Different foods can have a tremendously positive effect on your productivity. Diet plays a critical role in determining how your brain functions. Below, we will be going over some of the different foods that you can get into your diet to boost productivity at work.

Foods That Can Help Boost Productivity:

1. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish is one of the best foods that you can get into your diet in order to boost the amount of energy you have. At the same time, the essential fatty acids that can be found in fatty fish like salmon can be extremely useful for improving your memory and your mental performance as a whole.

2. Dark Chocolate

Another extremely good food that you can work to get more of into your diet would be dark chocolate. Believe it or not, but dark chocolate is an excellent food that you can get into your diet which can prove to be very useful for maximizing your efficiency and effectiveness at work. Not only does it contain caffeine which can provide you with the benefits of a stimulant, but it also happens to contain a lot of magnesium as well which can be a natural stress reliever.

3. Avocados

Another very good food that you can get into your routine is avocados. This fatty fruit is excellent for maximizing your productivity because it contains a lot of essential fatty acids which can be great for boosting memory, improving your focus, and providing your body with sustainable energy.

4. Nuts

Another excellent snack that you can get into your daily diet at work would be a variety of nuts. There are all kinds of nuts that can prove to be very beneficial when it comes to boosting your brain power because a lot of nuts contain a healthy amount of omega 3 fatty acids and they also contain a lot of vitamin E which has been shown to be effective at helping maximize your memory and boost overall brain performance.

Overall, there are a lot of foods that you can consider getting into your diet when you are looking to boost the level of productivity that you are able to achieve at work. Be sure to get these essential foods into your diet in order to get more work done by improving your work efficiency.

Food That Makes you Happy

Who doesn’t love food? Food is a basic need for humans, or any other animal, in order to survive. Over time, we have developed unique ways to consume the food we eat. Unfortunately, we more often choose what pleases our pallets, than we choose what is healthy for our body and brain. If you have been feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed, it might be due to the food you’re eating.

What Foods Make You Happy?

We have taken it upon ourselves to make a list of foods that will help brighten your mood. Some of these foods are:

  • Clams

Clams are a great source B12. Vitamin B12 triggers dopamine and serotonin in your brain. Both endorphins are related to boosting moods and battling depression. If you don’t like clams, you can find B12 in trout, salmon, red meat, poultry, dairy, and various cereals.

  • Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a great alternative to chips or candy. More specifically, walnuts and flax, which contain high levels of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. ALA is responsible for increasing levels of endorphins that make you happy, like dopamine and serotonin.

  • Coffee

Coffee is a tricky one. While coffee beans have mood boosting components, the main factor may be due to the level of caffeine in coffee. According to a study from Nurses’ Health, participants who drank at least three cups of coffee a day were 15% less likely to become depressed. When they increased the amount of coffee to four cups, they were 20% less likely to become depressed.

  • Radishes

If you’re in the mood for something crunchy, radishes are a great snack. These veggies are known to release endorphins like dopamine and norepinephrine, which have been linked to happiness.

  • Oysters

If you’re feeling anxious, it may be due to a lack of zinc in your body. Eating oysters is a great way to to get some more zinc in your diet.

  • Pomegranate

Pomegranate is a tasty fruit, but its juice is even better. The benefits of consuming pomegranate go beyond happiness, as the fruit is known to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.

  • Mushrooms

The fungi can be a tasty addition to any dish. Mushrooms are known to raise the levels of selenium and magnesium in your body.

  • Chocolate

We saved the most savory option for last. Chocolate, more specifically dark chocolate, is sweet but if consumed in moderation, can come along with many health benefits. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols. This element will calm you down and put a smile on your face!

Food is a basic necessity for survival, but what we consume and the way we consume it can have different effects on our health. Eating healthy goes beyond physical appearance. What you put in your body can have a direct effect on your mood. Eat right, exercise, and take care of your body. The results may shock you.

Are You A Pluviophile?

A pluviophile is more than just someone who loves rain. According to the dictionary, a pluviophile is someone who finds joy as well as peace of mind during rainy days. There’s a difference between the enjoyment you feel staying in and watching Netflix with a bowl of buttery popcorn or reading a book while drinking hot cocoa, and the feeling of being safe and protected. A true pluviophile will find a sense of security in the rain, and that no harm will come to them while it’s raining.

A pluviophile takes pleasure from the rain it interacts with all of their five senses. This is why most pluviophile’s will live their life as normal when it rains. For those who dislike rain will find it an inconvenience and chose not to run errands around town. However, a pluviophile will go out without hesitation.

First and foremost they love the way the rain feels on their skin. They do not mind going out during a monsoon and getting drenched when they run to their car. Not only do they enjoy going outside in the rain, they enjoy driving in the rain and watching the rain hit the windshield. The enjoy watching the drops of water splatters and slide down the window. Even after they return home from their daily routine while it’s raining, they choose to sit by the window to continue watching the rain. A lot of pluviophiles also enjoys the sound that the rain makes as it hits surfaces including puddles, windows, etc. The smell that the rain brings also brings the comfort.

And let’s admit it now, all of us at some point have stuck their tongue out and caught rainwater. A pluviophile will do this as well, however, rainwater is dangerous to drink and contains a lot of bacteria. So for all the pluviophile’s out there, we don’t think you should drink rainwater but please continue to run and play in the rain. We understand the enjoyment you get from it!

Why Does Chocolate Make You Happy?

There are several things that can affect people’s mood at any particular moment. The environment and the people around you are well-known components that contribute to mood as external stimuli. There is also the chemical balances to consider inside our bodies that can easily sway our mood in one way or another. Many people suffer from clinical depressions due to this sort of cause in the form of chemical imbalances. However, many people also find the opposite effect to be true as well, that certain chemicals can contribute to pleasant or joyful moods. Some people associate these with narcotics or other stimulants while other people find the pleasure in a much simpler (and legal) form: chocolate.

So, what is it exactly that makes chocolate such a mood-booster? Apart from being sweet and somewhat addicting in its own right, chocolate also contains a variety of chemicals in it that activate certain neurotransmitters. For example, one chemical commonly found in chocolate is tryptophan – the same chemical often associated with Thanksgiving Day turkeys and the reason that we generally feel like a good nap after that Thanksgiving Day dinner. The reason being that tryptophan, when introduced into the body, triggers the production and release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter strongly associated with mood balance and reduction in anxiety. This combination of effects is what may give many people such a calming, relaxed feeling after eating turkey – or chocolate, as the topic pertains, should they eat enough of it.

Another contributor within chocolate is a fat compound called anadamide. Anadamide is responsible for the release of dopamine into the human body, which is responsible for  feelings of positive well-being and even a feeling of being “high” similar to the effects of THC in marijuana, although much less intense. This is because anadamide triggers the same neural receptors as marijuana’s THC. Dopamine is also said to be strongly associated with addiction and addictive tendencies through its association with the concepts of reward and reinforcement – possibly one of the many reasons people claim chocolate to be so addicting.

Chocolate also triggers the release of endorphins, which is a body’s natural happiness inducer. Endorphins, like dopamine and serotonin, also contribute to mood balance on top of reducing stress and temporarily decreasing our sensitivity to pain.

Last but not least, chocolate also encourages the release of a neurotransmitter called phenylethylamine, a long word that has also gone by “the love drug.” This is because phenylethylamine is often associated with inducing feelings of happiness and excitement as well as generating a quickened pulse rate: feelings and sensations that are often linked to someone who finds him or herself in love.

Finally, for anyone who has been keeping track, two of these chemicals – serotonin and dopamine – are not only ever-present when consuming chocolate. These two neurotransmitters are but a slew of chemicals also released in heavy doses into the brain immediately after sexual climax. Which might explain why so many people are usually inclined to compare sex with chocolate – anecdotally, at least.

5 Legendary Live Music Performances

A recent study conducted by the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index involving 1000 participants concluded that live music events are associated with higher levels of subjective wellbeing. The telephone survey pointed specifically to the communal element of these musical engagements, such as concerts and festivals, and that the feeling of unity and shared experience contributes to a more positive disposition.

It can be argued that hearing music in a live setting is essential to the human experience, as music has historically been a part of human life for over 36,000 years. The performance aspect of live music ensures a certain amount of vulnerability your LP can’t quite capture. It can be a momentous, “I was there” event that can be one of the happiest memories of your life. As a society, certain moments in music history live in the minds and hearts of all, and are as legendary as the artists themselves.

1. The first time Michael Jackson did the moonwalk.
The 1983 TV special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever is immortalized as the first time Michael Jackson did the moonwalk to his smash hit “Billie Jean” in front of an audience. The history of the moonwalk hardly starts with the King of Pop, and It’s also worth noting that since Jackson wanted to depart from the motown theme of the night, he lip synched the performance as opposed to letting the live motown band do a rendition that he felt wouldn’t capture the groove of the song. Yet, Michael Jackson still made the performance his own, captivating the audience and the world for a brief, extraterrestrial moment.

2. The Beatles’ American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.
The year was 1964. A four-piece band from Liverpool had exploded onto the scene, creating a mass hysteria akin to the hype around Elvis a decade ago. They caught the attention of America’s most popular variety show host Ed Sullivan, and booked the band for what would be one of the most monumental music events in history. 73 million people tuned in to watch, and from that point on, Beatlemania had arrived stateside.

3. Elvis Presley’s Performance of Hound Dog on The Milton Berle Show.
Rock and roll took America by storm in the ‘50s, shocking conservative parents and igniting rebellious teenage angst like never before. This particular performance on the Milton Berle Show was the country’s first glimpse of Elvis’ pelvis after being hidden away by his acoustic guitar on previous performances. For the times, it was raunchy and incendiary, but nonetheless a turning point for American pop culture.

4. Prince’s Super Bowl XLI Halftime performance
Anyone familiar with Prince’s overall presence and entity know that he is somewhat of a superhuman figure. His performance of Purple Rain at the 2007 Super Bowl was nothing less than a cosmic event, as the show occurred during a quintessential Florida downpour. It goes down as a performance where nature, music, and man became one for a brief moment.

5. Janis Joplin’s debut performance at Monterey Pop.
Janis Joplin goes down as one of the most legendary female rock figures of the last century. Her passion and exceptional musical ability was always present in her performances, and she exploded onto the famed Summer of Love music scene with her set at Monterey Pop ‘67, two months before Woodstock ‘67. Her performance of Ball and Chain, a bluesy song brimming with melancholy, left many in the crowd open-mouthed knowing they had witnessed the birth of an icon.

In a world that is increasingly becoming dangerously polarized, these moments of harmony among people of all color and credence are all the more precious.

Make Lists: Think Happy To Be Happy

If you’re in a slump or angry and can’t control the way you feel, you might try to train yourself to shut it off. While that may not be the ideal way to deal with actual problems head-on, some of us simply have seasonal or random bouts of depression that crop up for no discernable reason. When that’s the case, the best way to get back on track is to think about the things that make you feel at your best. That’s why you can make lists in order to think happy.

Lots of different things might make you happy, and it’s up to you to think about what they are. The most obvious choice is music. Science has proven that music can enhance your mood and even help you learn, and that’s why you should keep a list of your favorite songs for future reference. Sure, keep the best of the best on your phone or computer, but be sure to have a backup copy so you don’t miss out on any of your favorites down the line.

If you meet someone you don’t like, then you aren’t alone. It happens to everyone. That’s why it makes sense to counteract the bad experience with a good one. Create a list of the people who mean the most to you. When you can’t make a quick visit or call, just take a look at the list to know that you have people in your life who can make you feel on top of the world. There is another benefit to keeping these people around: according to Harvard researchers, those of us with the strongest relationships are more likely to stay healthier longer and increase our longevity.

If you have the travel bug, then it can be helpful to keep a journal of your favorite destinations. If you have a good experience while on vacation, then write it down in order to recall it more easily later. If the winter weather or rainy day has you down, then keep your mind on where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and what you might do again. Psychologists have found that traveling can enhance our creativity, make us more amenable to others, relieve stress, and boost overall happiness. Believe it or not, you can get these benefits just by walking down the street. It’s the change of scenery that benefits us the most, not the exotic locations.

3 Keys to Happiness That You Might Overlook

Have you ever noticed the boost you get after a bout of exercise? There are a number of reasons. Exercise equalizes the amounts of glucose, leptin, and insulin in your body, helps keep you alert, increases sexual function, improves the health of your skin, elevates mood, helps you sleep, creates the conditions necessary for your nerve cells to replicate–thereby helping keep your brain at peak performance–and the list goes on and on.

We all know the benefits of exercise, but not all of us know that spreading it out during the course of a week can help even more than if you stuff a hardcore workout here or there. In other words, you won’t get the same beneficial effects of exercise if you do it one day and then sit around to play video games the next. Exercise needs to be consistent, and that’s what you’re likely doing wrong.

Exercise can also help you get outside. That’s a good thing, because another key ingredient to happiness is a lot of vitamin D. Because of genome sequencing, we now know that vitamin D plays a part in perhaps 2,000 genes. You can consume the vitamin through food or supplements, but the best means of consumption is via the sun. Vitamin D plays a role in keeping our immune system healthy, and also helps us absorb other vitamins and nutrients such as calcium and phosphorous.

Even if all you do is take a long walk in the sun, you’ll still notice elevated amounts of energy over the next few days. That’s because vitamin D regulates mood in order to combat depression, helps you lose weight, and combats disease–so keep at it!

The third key to happiness is one of the most important, and can influence anything else you do to keep yourself upbeat: get enough sleep! Believe it or not, the way your brain works changes when you don’t sleep. Scientists at Western University in Ontario found that brains are much less active with less sleep, and can lead to a number of psychiatric conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, etc.

Sometimes it isn’t easy to do everything we need to do, but these are three of the most important. Exercise regularly, get outside for some good old-fashioned vitamin D and get enough sleep.