Food With Endorphins brings you the winning combination of great tasting food, combined with a cardiovascular workout to create a fantastic endorphin buzz. Why is it important to get your endorphins flowing?
Food With Endorphins
We’ve all heard of endorphins – the chemicals that make you naturally and ecstatically happy.
Endorphins are most commonly released in your brain after exercise, while eating delicious foods, laughing, or having sex. Endorphins reduce your perception of pain and produce a feeling of euphoria, which can be followed by a positive and energised outlook on life.
Endorphins are peptide hormones produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. They have a similar effect to morphine when they’re produced, and their main function is to inhibit the transmission of pain signals.
Apart from vigorous exercise, an easy way to naturally boost your endorphins is with nutrition. Certain foods can encourage your brain’s endorphin release for a naturally happy outlook.
Here are our top 5 recommended foods to boost your endorphins.
Cacao stimulates the release of endorphins, as well the happy chemical serotonin, and the bliss chemicals Phenylethylamine (PEA) and anandamide for a naturally positive outlook. Raw cacao powder is also packed full of antioxidants and it tastes delicious. Try recipes using an organic raw cacao powder for a happy energy boost.
2. Spicy Foods
Peppers and spicy foods contain a compound called capsaicin, which makes your brain think that it’s in pain. As a response, your brain releases endorphins and dopamine. Someone eating a large amount of spicy food can experience a euphoria similar to ‘runner’s high’.
Rhodiola is a brain-boosting nootropic and adaptogen that is believed to improve memory and increase productivity. As well as stimulating the release of endorphins, rhodiola can help to lower your cortisol levels and boost concentration.
Ginseng has many proven mental benefits, including bring calming and reducing stress, as well as delaying fatigue and boosting energy levels. Ginseng supports healthy brain function, which in turn helps to modulate the production of endorphins.
5. Vanilla Bean
The scent of vanilla bean influences the production of endorphins. As well as being a natural aphrodisiac and reducing anxiety, vanilla bean also increases neurotransmitter function, which will help your brain produce more serotonin and dopamine. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory, and high in B vitamins, magnesium, calcium and potassium.
Endorphin Releasing Foods
Research has shown that as the body ‘defends’ itself against the heat of spicy foods like chillies, it releases endorphins to act as a painkiller. Maybe that’s why we’re a sucker for a good curry…
Nutrifix’s Pick – Rola Wala‘s high protein Sourdough Naan With Nagaland Lamb – with lots of their super hot sauce for more heart-warming heat.
#2 Dark Chocolate (any excuse!)
The N-acyclethanoloamine group of chemicals found in chocolate have been shown to increase production of endorphins – we’ve always said chocolate was a comfort food and science says it’s true!
And it’s not just down to the release of endorphins – we also know that chocolate increases the production of serotonin and dopamine, which act as natural anti-depressants.
Sadly, there is a catch. A study looking at how long the mood boosting effects of chocolate lasted and found that it wasn’t long – just 3 minutes!
It’s probably best to have your chocolate spread out in small amounts rather than all in one go, so you can avoid those unwelcome sugar lows and prolong your natural endorphin high (as long as you remember to brush your teeth twice a day!)
Nutrifix’s Pick – Pret a Manger‘s Dark Chocolate With Sea Salt
Studies have found that vitamin C can boost the release of endorphins in the brain, so all the more reason to cram it into your diet. Eating lots of citrus fruits and other brightly coloured fruit and dark green leafy veg is a great ways to improve your mood.
Oh and remember: vitamin C is water soluble. This means our bodies can’t store it so we need to keep our levels topped up each day.
Nutrifix’s Picks – an orange (or a lemon, if you can handle it)! Though that won’t fill you up at lunch time. Try HiLo‘s Beet It Salad Pot which contains oranges, beetroot and carrots – all good sources of vit C.
Animal proteins contain a full set of amino acids, which includes those linked to endorphin production. Eggs are one of the healthiest (and most economic!) animal sources of protein to consume on a daily basis – don’t be fooled by the myth that they will raise your cholesterol levels.
Nutrifix’s Picks – Pod’s Superb Scrambled Eggs provide the simplest option on the high street. If you’re a regular on the scrambled egg scene and want something more adventurous (or protein-packed), read this to find out what you can find in Crussh, Leon, EAT and Pure.
#5 Brown Rice
All wholegrain cereals are a good source of B vitamins: vitamin B6 as well as thiamin (vitamin B1) and niacin (vitamin B3). These are all responsible for keeping your nervous system in check. If your central nervous system is working well, you’ll be able to keep producing plenty of endorphins, as well as the other feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
5 ways to boost the production of happy hormones in your body
If you’ve been feeling low and cranky for a long time, there’s a good chance that the endorphin levels in your body are not at mark. We asked a panel of experts—a nutritionist to a counsellor—to share their tips on what you can do to promote a sense of happiness
“Endorphins are neurotransmitters that are secreted in our brain and spine [the central nervous system]. They are feel-good chemicals which help us experience pleasure, relax and improve our mood,” explains Mumbai-based counselling psychologist, Maithili Thanawala Kanabar. “Structurally, endorphins are similar to the drug morphine, and also play a similar function of reducing discomfort by acting as our body’s natural painkillers,” says Mumbai-based medical nutritionist and lifestyle ailments expert, Dr Vishakha Shivdasani. “When endorphin levels dip, it can lead to feelings of sadness, stress and anxiety, which can show up as fatigue and a lack of productivity. Low levels of endorphins may also play a role in headaches,” adds Kanabar.
Considering higher levels of endorphins translate to a happier, more optimistic mindset, it makes sense that you’d want to do anything you can to boost yours. “There are various ways to increase the production of endorphins in your body, often by doing things that you love,” says Kanabar. To make things easier, we asked the experts to share their top tips on improving your body’s endorphin levels.
1) Find what you love and keeping doing it
“Having a sense of purpose, whether it’s the eagerness to discover new things in life or to pursue something you already like, increases the endorphins in your body,” explains Kanabar. “Look at what gives you joy; it could be singing, dancing, reading a good book or even be playing with your pet,” says Dr Shivdasani. “Your endorphin levels also increase when you are around people you love. In fact, people often get addicted to high endorphin levels when they fall in love, as these go up naturally,” she adds.
2) Laugh (a lot)
“Laughter triggers a release of endorphins in specific regions of the brain. It also supports a positive mood and brings calmness. By laughing more, we experience pleasure and see a reduction in stress. Our brain always notes this association— between the activity and the pleasure it brings. So, have a good laugh often,” recommends Kanabar.
3) Work out often
One of the best, proven ways to improve your endorphin levels is to exercise. In fact, several serial gym enthusiasts are addicted to the endorphin rush that comes with working out. While several studies discuss how endorphin release differs by the intensity of your exercise, all you need is to try and get moving, since this also reduces the stress hormones in the body. “When you exercise right, you improve your breathing, as well as the blood and oxygen flow in your body, all of which contribute to better endorphin production. But it is important to find balance in what you do,” says celebrity fitness expert and health coach, Deanne Panday. “I see so many people blindly following 100-day or 200-day fitness challenges, but in the process of meeting their targets, they often stress themselves out and send their bodies into fight-or-flight mode—this increases the cortisol levels in the body and causes stress on the nervous system,” she explains. The expert suggests picking any good form of exercise to promote endorphin production; even walking can help elevate your mood. Kanabar points out that exercising in the sun is even better, as being outdoors in the sun can heal the mind and body. “Sunlight is one of the best non-addictive ways to find bliss. When skin is exposed to sunlight, our body produces Vitamin D, which not only increases our immunity but also improves the production of brain chemicals, including endorphins. Lack of exposure to daylight reduces the level of Vitamin D in the body, which can also makes you feel low in addition to affecting bones and joints,” says Dr Shivdasani.
4) Book a spa day
“Physical touch, especially with healing treatments such as acupuncture and massages, calms the body down and improves the production of endorphins. Treatments such as aromatherapy also help since you can improve your body’s ability to fight illnesses by calming it down,” says Kanabar.
“The beauty of meditation, yoga and pranayama is that you are using the physical to control the mind. Meditation means that you are trying to concentrate on a particular thing and controlling your thoughts. And guided meditation is the easiest form of meditation because someone is helping you and this stops your mind from wandering. With meditating, controlling your mind becomes a habit, plus it doesn’t just release endorphins, but also serotonin and dopamine because of focusing on the mind,” says Sharmilee Agarwal Kapur, co-founder of Atmantan Wellness Centre.
5) Load up on the right foods
Spicy foods, though tough on the palate, often lead you to feeling a state of bliss, and can even increase your tolerance to pain. “Spicy foods contain a chemical known as capsaicin, which is derived from hot peppers. It is also used for pain relief ointments and [to help those suffering from] arthritis. Our body knows that the heat produced [via capsaicin] is not normal, and it gives you an endorphin rush to to negate that effect,” says Dr Shivdasani. Dark chocolate and cacao also boost endorphins levels in the body. “Dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which improves the mood and your attention and increases endorphin production,” says Dr Shivdasani. Other food items that improve endorphin levels are leafy greens (they are rich in B vitamins), strawberries, avocados, nuts and seeds. All of these improve the release of happy hormones such as serotonin, tryptophan and dopamine, and also include essential minerals that are important for mood elevation.