Let us admit it that millions of Nigerians are currently living in the hardest of times. The increasing challenge of insecurity is one clear and present danger. Almost on daily basis precious lives are lost through unrelenting Boko Haram terrorism, banditry and kidnapping for ransom. Add these to the economic downturn as reflected in massive job losses, high rate of food inflation, decrepit infrastructure and political instability and you get to understand why happiness has become a scarce social factor.
In spite of all these the choice is yours to make yourself happy, because no one else can! Of note is that the ways towards achieving this is in the foods we eat combined regular exercise. All these assist to boost the production of the hormone called serotonin. So, what is it?
According to Dictionary.com serotonin is a “neurotransmitter, derived from tryptophan, that is involved in sleep, depression, memory, and other neurological processes.” Similarly, MedicineNet describes serotonin as a “neuro-transmitter that is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. Serotonin is also key to mood regulation; pain perception; gastro-intestinal function, including perception of hunger and satiety; and other physical functions.”
Furthermore, serotonin is linked to digestion, blood clotting and bone density. But its most important function in terms of what makes us happy is in regulating mood. Some scientists even refer to serotonin as the “happiness chemical,” because higher serotonin levels increase feelings of well-being, of confidence and belonging.
Serotonin in the brain is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood. Low levels of the chemical have been associated with depression, and increased serotonin levels brought on by medication are thought to decrease arousal. Nausea: Serotonin is part of the reason why you become nauseated.
Let us begin on a happy note because once we are excited and in a good frame of mind, we can achieve most of whatever we choose to do. It is interesting, isn’t it? To note that the foods we eat could have positive effects on our mood.
Foods that make you HAPPY!
One fruit rich in serotonin is avocado. Other food items that have positive effect on your mood are: Dark chocolate, green tea, Greek yogurt, chicken, chicken noodle soup and bananas.
O yes, bananas boost serotonin. Leafy greens facilitate the release of energy. Walnut boosts omega-3 brain nutrients. The protein content in peanut butter is a source of tryptophan, which increases serotonin levels to help one relax.Epson salt has calming effects on your body. Oats ease depression. Cayenne pepper relieves depression. Water hydration eases depression and release more energy. Green smoothie is an energy booster. Almonds-rich in magnesium boosts the production of serotonin.
Plantains, pineapple, bananas, kiwi fruit, plums, and tomatoes contain high amounts of tryptophan which is a building block to creating mood-boosting serotonin. So if we consume produce rich in tryptophan, our bodies can make more serotonin.
Folic acid and vitamin B12 are involved in the synthesis of serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Vitamin B12 deficiency has been found in many patients who have depression or decreased attention, concentration, and memory.
As for exercise, while walking clears the mind and boosts the free flow of hormones, smiling releases the happy hormone, serotonin.
Let us go into specifics about some of the above-mentioned foods:
Of all the nuts, walnut has the highest level of Omega-3 fatty acids which have great anti-oxidant activities. For instance, it has melatonin which boosts its nutritional value and even makes it easier for people to sleep.
Good enough, walnuts are in season as we speak. Don’t complain that they are expensive, or that when you drink water after chewing it you get some bitter taste. The same chemicals that give you such taste are your health boosters.
Good old banana makes us happy all because it is high in vitamin B6 which is required for the synthesis of the neuro-transmitters; serotonin and dopamine. They have positive effects on our nervous system.
The good thing about popcorn is that it triggers the production of serotonin. It is a good type of carbohydrate because it is low in fat and easy to digest. On the other hand, high-fat carbohydrates take longer time to digest.
Popcorn is cheap and available is it not? So, go for it.
The question is why orange? The answer is because oranges are packed full of Vitamin C which has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression. That is much unlike aspartame the artificial sweetener that has been linked to mood problems.
Instead of sugary, packaged fruit juice go for the natural varieties especially orange.
Simply put, crayfish is one of the ‘happy foods’ because it is high in selenium, the absence of which causes depression. Unlike canned tuna fish which has lost its Omega-3 fatty acid, crunchy crayfish is a natural mood booster. Go for it! Now, let us consider foods that strengthen our bodies against debilitating diseases.
COMBINE LAUGHTER WHICH IS THE BEST MEDICINE!
According to HeathGuide, “as children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. But by seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.” This is well said.
Did you know that laughter boosts immunity, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes your muscles and prevents heart disease? Laughter is good for your health because it relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
It decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. It triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Laughter protects the heart as it improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Laughter burns calories. Laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.
Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humour outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.
So, go head to choose the right foods and learn to LAUGH every blessed day! It is for your own good.