Top 5 HAPPY Foods – The Travel Pharmacist

Did you know that FOOD can actually change your mood? And all it takes is one bite to go from grumpy to grinning? Well, maybe not quite that simple, but some foods DO have the ability to alter the chemicals in your brain responsible for happiness. By increasing levels of these “happy” chemicals, like serotonin and endorphins, we can more easily face a day of stressful airport runs or trekking at the break of dawn.

So which food are considered the best “HAPPY” foods? Here are the Top 5 –

1. COFFEE! You can smell it now, can’t you? A study from Vanderbilt University showed 2 cups a day over a three week period increased the brain’s production of endorphins. Endorphins are those same hormones that make you feel SO good when you’ve just run your best time ever or when you help that frazzled foreign traveler read her upside down map.

2. SUNFLOWER SEEDS. It’s a crunchy, delicious snack that fills the brain with zinc, a natural stress-reducer. It only takes 1/2 a cup of shelled seeds daily for a week to see the benefits!

3. GREEN TEA. Sip away your anxiety with a cup of green tea. Green tea contains theanine, a compound shown to significantly reduce anxiety by protecting the brain from excess neurotransmitters. And if that wasn’t enough, green tea has other health benefits as well. The antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in that steaming cup of goodness assists the body in the fight against cancer and heart disease.

4. AVOCADOS. Nature’s Prozac! With high levels of tryptophan, the chemical that turns into serotonin in the brain, avocados have been shown to have a good antidepressant effect. It only takes 1/2 of an avocado daily to produce this mood-lifting feeling. An extra bonus – adding a few slices to your salad will significantly increase nutrient adsorption as the fats in avocados allow the body to absorb more nutrients from other foods.

5. CHOCOLATE. Oh yes! We all love chocolate and the fact it’s good for our brain makes us even happier! Phenylethylamine and anandamides are the two scary-sounding compounds in chocolate we can thank for boosting concentration and increasing blood flow to the brain. Chocolate increases both serotonin and endorphin levels in the body. Dark chocolate is best – 30 to 90 percent cocoa content, and all it takes is one ounce daily to bring on those wonderful feelings of happiness!

Share YOUR special “Happy Food” with us in the comments below…

As with all medical conditions discussed on the Internet, check first with your doctor before using any alternative treatments.

Happy, Healthy Travels!

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