Its all about the "happiness quartet", four natural chemicals present in our bodies: endorphin, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. When your brain emits one of these chemicals you feel good, you feel happy. But can food help us manage these natural chemicals?
Scientists have spent decades investigating how the mechanisms of our brain work and there is something very clear: there is a direct link between the food we eat and our mood. Combinations of hormones such as the "happiness quartet" affect our degree of happiness and well-being and some of these chemicals can be found in food.
There are amino acids such as tryptophan, which is necessary to ensure healthy growth in babies and helps maintain the nitrogen balance in adults. The body is unable to produce it by itself, so it must be obtained from our diet. Other elements that can only be acquired through a good diet are: folic acid, iron and vitamins. Here are a few foods that can help you feel happier.
1. Dairy Products and Eggs
These are very important for the secretion of serotonin: for example cheese, milk, cream and yogurt. In addition, these foods are rich in tryptophan. Once the body absorbs it, it turns into serotonin, a chemical responsible for achieving healthy sleep and a balanced mood. The egg, especially the yolk, is also an important ally when it comes to generating more tryptophan.
2. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is made up of sugar and cocoa butter. These components help the body absorb tryptophan, which is then converted to serotonin. In addition, cocoa is a natural stimulant that provides caffeine to the body. Chocolate provides the body with a significant amount of essential antioxidants that slow down the action of free radicals. The key is to check if the chocolate we are buying is at least 60% real cocoa.
3. White Meat
Chicken and turkey proteins rebuild the body's cells and tissues. In addition, its consumption activates serotonin. It is also one of the key sources of an amino acid called tyrosine. These help increase the levels of dopamine in the brain, something that contributes to a greater concentration and to increase the energy.
4. Dried Fruits and Nuts
Each one has its own properties but what they all share is a protein called tiptofan. Almonds for example, are rich in the group of vitamins B which helps balance the nervous system and our phenylalanine which improves our mood.
5. Spicy Food
The ingestion of very spicy food is one of the best ways to release endorphins. When you eat chili peppers you feel your mouth burning. This sensation is caused mainly by a chemical compound called capsaicin, which is found in chili peppers. The brain perceives the spicy as if it caused damage, so it releases endorphins that generate the sensation of well-being to protect us.
- María Álvarez Pérez