Your body is a symphony of chemical reactions unique to only you. When your chemistry is in perfect harmony, you can be healthier and happier. When there is discordance, and if it is severe enough, the result is physical and or mental illness.
Just like every orchestra is unique though each plays with the same type of instruments; most of us are equipped with the same physical instruments including our brain, liver, kidneys and so forth. It is how these instruments chemically harmonize that is unique to each of us and why it is difficult for science to nail down the one size fits all perfect happiness lifestyle and diet. However, sufficient studies have been done to identify certain foods that can help our body to harmonize and certain foods that can cause discordance. This post is a heads up as to which foods do which when it comes to happiness.
It’s important to understand the significance of eating food to maintain a happy, healthy life versus using medications whether self or physician prescribed. If you are not happy or have bouts of anxiety, your body is telling you the orchestra is off key. Something is wrong. You usually don’t need medications to be happy. In fact, opiates, alcohol and other “recreational” drugs and even those that may be prescribed by a physician only serve to mask the messages your body is sending to you.
Your body may be telling you that you are unhappy because you need more exercise. It may be warning you that your thoughts are sending the wrong messages to your brain. It may be telling you that you are overloading your body with toxins. It may also be telling you that you haven’t been providing it with the nourishment it needs to bring happiness into your life. Happy feelings and sad feelings are the result of a delicate interplay of brain chemistry. If it’s wrong you may feel sad, depressed, and anxious. You can also be tired and have impaired thinking ability. If it’s right, the world is yours.
If you are currently unhappy and or anxious, the best solution is to listen to your body and correct the causes of your unhappiness and anxiety. Outside of the rare occasion when there is a genetic problem, a major cause of unhappiness is related to the chemicals you are putting into your body. Chemicals enter your body in three ways: What is absorbed through your skin, what you inhale and what you ingest as food and beverage. This post focuses on the foods you eat and drink that can help you be happier, calmer and more energetic. It also will give you some tips on what foods may have just the opposite effect.
One more thing I want to mention before we move on concerns the debate over meat and sugar. The problem is not with eating meat, the problem is with the quality of meat you eat. The problem is not with eating sugar, it’s the quantity of sugar you eat.
Humans have been eating meat for thousands of years and as a species we are well adapted to including meat in our diet as a good source of protein. However, the beef we often buy in the grocery store is grain fed and lacks in omega 3 fatty acids. Whereas grass fed beef has almost as much omega 3 fatty acid as salmon. The meat from a chicken that is allowed to forage outdoors contains less fat overall, and has 30% less saturated fat and significantly more omega 3 fatty acids than a grain fed chicken.
Grocery store meat and poultry may also contain traces of hormones and antibiotics. Hormones create imbalances in our body chemistry and the antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistant disease causing organisms.
With sugar, the problem is in eating too much of it. It’s natural for us humans to like sugar. Why wouldn’t we? Sugar is the source of energy for every cell in our bodies. In fact, our bodies manufacture sugar out of the foods we eat (carbohydrates). However, excess sugar puts a burden on our bodies that results in physical and or mental illness. All things in moderation.
Happiness foods: These foods contain chemicals that will help keep you smiling.
- Mozzarella cheese, pumpkin seeds, roasted soy beans, parmesan cheese, oat bran, cheddar cheese, dark chocolate and turkey (tryptophan)
- Wild salmon, walnuts, grass fed beef, wild game, eggs from free ranging hens (omega-3 fatty acids)
- Spinach and other dark green vegetables, legumes, calf liver, chicken liver and citrus fruit. (Note: Folate is what you get from food; folic acid is a synthetic product which is metabolized differently than folate.)
- Water – Even slight dehydration can make you moody
Energy foods: These foods contain chemicals that will have you dancing through each day.
- Wild salmon, walnuts – (omega 3)
- Eggs (choline)
- Blueberries (anthocyanins, resveratrol)
- Sweet potatoes & carrots (beta carotene)
- Seaweed (iodine & minerals) – low levels of iodine impair thyroid function and that can make you fatigued.
- Spinach & other dark green leafy vegetables (folate & B vitamins)
- cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, kale, cabbage, collards, bok choy, mustard greens, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts and watercress (glucosinolates )
- almonds, sunflowers
- Meat and seafood (taurine)
- Coffee, green tea – moderate use 1 – 2 cups a day with little or no sugar. (caffein)
- Water – Make sure you drink enough. Even slight dehydration can make you feel tired and dull your thinking.
Calming foods: These foods contain chemicals that will help you stay calm and think clearly through problems.
- Dark chocolate – contains magnesium reduces cortisol
- Sardines, wild salmon, cod, scallops and lamb (B12 – cobalamin).
- Whole grains (tryptophan)
- Seaweed (tryptophan) – And it’s is gluten free
- Blueberries, acai berries and peaches (antioxidants)
- Almonds (zinc and beneficial fats)
Foods that create disharmony in your body: These are the foods to avoid as much as possible.
- White breads – Be sure and read labels on whole grain breads too, many contain high fructose corn syrup and additives.
- Farmed salmon (PCBs)
- High fructose corn syrup (It’ll make you fat)
- Drink juice sparingly. Substitute whole fruit where you can. Juice is high in fructose without the fiber you get with eating the whole fruit.
- Bacon, ham, luncheon meats (nitrites)
- Sugar in excess – this includes white sugar, brown sugar, molasses and honey. Excess sugar plays havoc with your body.
- Avoid all foods with chemical additives, dyes and preservatives as much as possible.
The above list of foods is far from complete, but it will get you going in the right direction. If you’ve read through these lists, you probably noticed a particular food showing up more than once. Be happy about that because you know that food will benefit you in more than one way. Yipee!
So how do you know which foods and food combinations are right for you and your chemical uniqueness? To start, spend a little mental energy on listening to your body after you eat. How do you feel after you eat certain foods? Do you feel sleepy after a heavy meal of meat? Peppy after you eat a bowl of blueberries? Like you’re walking around in a fog after you eat bread? These feelings are messages from your body. Listen to them and adjust your diet accordingly. Eat the foods that your body wants you to eat. You can have a lot of fun sorting out the foods that are right for your body.
You and the body in which you live are awesome. Your body is constantly working in its own mysterious chemical way to create the harmonious symphony you need for a life of happiness and well being. To do this your body needs you to supply it with the nourishment it needs.
Now go have fun, eat healthy and relax.