The Chemistry of Joy . . . (and other emotions) from your kitchen

One of my long time friends (who shall remain nameless but who I closely work with on a blog – which also shall remain nameless) “hates” me because I weigh about the same I did when we went to high school together.  (“Hate” may be a bit too strong but she’s been known to say that to my face.)

I can’t help it that I’m just not a glutton like one of my long time friends (who shall remain nameless but who I closely work with on a blog – which also shall remain nameless).

I can’t help it that I eat healthy in moderation unlike one of my long time friends (who shall remain nameless but who I closely work with on a blog – which also shall remain nameless).

When I found this research I thought I might share it with you and one of my long time friends (who shall remain nameless but who I closely work with on a blog – which also shall remain nameless).

The Chemistry of Joy

Our mood, our outlook and our energy levels are determined to a huge extent by the chemicals serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and their relationship to one another.

We feel good when they are in balance. Beta endorphins also create a feeling of well-being, connectedness to others, and emotional stability. They even help us tolerate pain.

  • If levels of norepinephrine and dopamine are low, people will slow down, sleep a lot, have trouble concentrating and find it hard to motivate themselves. They can have a “sluggish” depression.
  • On the other hand, people with high levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, and possibly low levels of serotonin often feel angry, resentful and despairing. They can be critical and demanding. This would be an “agitated ” depression.
  • A third kind of depression can occur with low levels of serotonin, which results in people feeling fearful , worried and inadequate. This is an “anxious” depression.

Here is where he kitchen comes in:

In the Kitchen by Peggy

  • Sluggish Depression – Eating to INCREASE norepinephrine and dopamine: 
    Eat high quality proteins throughout the day, lean beef, low-fat meats and fish.
  • Agitated Depression – Eating to DECREASE norepinephrine and dopamine:
    eat the same as to increase serotonin but eat very small amounts of protein. A vegetarian diet would be good.
  • Anxious Depression – Eating to INCREASE serotonin:
    Increase carbs, eat tryptophan, which is in nuts, dairy, and meats. Eat regularly throughout the day. Get some protein, but not a large amount.

SUGAR (also alcohol) elevates beta endorphins, which may be why people have sugar cravings. This elevation only lasts a short time, because the body metabolizes it quickly. This results in a “low” that follows the sugar “high”, and you want more sugar! My long time friend (who shall remain nameless but who I closely work with on a blog – which also shall remain nameless) can avoid this by eating complex carbs and protein.

Cholesterol helps the brain make the chemicals we need. So if you are depressed, eat some fat: Halibut, salmon, grains and nuts that have omega 3 and animal fat with omega 6 are both needed in balance.

     *     *     *     *     * 

And so my long time friend (who shall remain nameless but who I closely work with on a blog – which also shall remain nameless)

THIS is a brain healthy diet:
Fats 30%
Sugar 10% or less
Caffeine drinks a day, 2 or fewer ( a cup of coffee is 6 oz)
Complex carbs, whole grains, lean protein, fresh fruit and dark green, leafy vegetables – A lot!

How to Snack Your Way to Mental Clarity

This caught my eye, or more like it my appetite.  I’m always on the look-out for how I can eat more, feel better and not gain weight . . . These recommendations by *Mike Dow, Ph.D.,author of The Brain Fix are now on my menu.

“You can actually snack your way to mental clarity. . . . Dow says to opt for foods that enhance overall cognitive function and promote positive mood. 

IN THE MORNING

eating-yogurtsun-down

“Kick-start your day with Greek yogurt topped with walnuts and berries. . . . a yogurt fix  “significantly reduces anxiety, thanks to the probiotics that produce feel-good and stress-relieving neurotransmitters.”  Walnuts also support a positive mood, while the fibrous berries are “chock-full of anti-inflammatory antioxidants that… make their way through the blood-brain barrier.”’

IN THE AFTERNOON

eating-hummusfloor

“For an afternoon pick-me-up, snack on broccoli and red bell peppers with hummus. Unlike processed snacks that lead to poorer memory and cognitive function (we’re looking at you, chips and crackers), you’ll feel sharper and more level-headed. This is because the vitamin C keeps your cortisol levels steady, which will also reduce stress levels while the healthy fats will provide you with more conservable energy.”

IN THE EVENING

small-tablewindow

“If you still have some work to finish up in the evening and feel hungry, eat a banana with pistachios while sipping on chamomile tea. “The bananas and pistachios both contain vitamin B6,” Dow says. “This is a stress-relieving powerhouse that fights the frantic feeling of scatterbrain.” Also, the amino acids will help your brain produce more melatonin so you get a good night sleep.”