The brain is constantly communicating with the rest of the body sending special chemicals from one nerve to another. These microscopic secretions from the quintessential glands happen in response to precise requirements of various physical and chemical processes in our system. They increase or decrease energy drive, fat storage, and influence emotions and moods. Let’s get to know these allies during our moments of highs and lows.
Dopamine is associated with pleasure and reward, bringing a sense of accomplishment as it motivates one to work hard or even hardly work. Addictive substances are essentially making the body crave for more and more of dopamine. Excessive amounts lead to slow & uncoordinated movements, or too much unnecessary movements like repetitive ticks. The dopamine boosting foods that should be included in the diet are fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, beans and cheese.
Serotonin are the feel good hormones present majorly in the intestines and blood platelets regulating also the digestive health. Good levels of this hormone brings about states of good sleep, healthy appetite, good memory, high self-esteem, and enables to multi-task. Low levels lead to anxiety, panic attacks, depression, obsessive behaviour and fits of anger. To produce serotonin the body needs carbohydrates, bananas, yoghurt and vitamin D.
Oxytocin boosts the feeling of love and trust, helps lower blood pressure and to fight stress. Good levels of this hormone are required to beat feelings of loneliness and unworthiness, to come out of reclusiveness and to get socializing. Getting a massage or a pet cuddle proves to be an excellent remedy to get the touch therapy working. Embracing people helps embrace life.
Melatonin, known as the anti-ageing hormone, is responsible for regulating the body clock, and to enable rest and recuperate. Receptors in the brain trigger melatonin production when it is dark. At sundown, the pineal gland pumps out this hormone making one sleepy. Thus this hormone serves the purpose of setting the pace for the body with respect to the time of the day or season of the year. It helps to combat stress and works as an antioxidant. Daylight, electric lighting, blue light-emitting gadgets, and constrictive clothing decrease the production of melatonin and impair sleep. Melatonin deficiency leads to obesity, diabetes and even cancer. Cherries are rich in melatonin.
Endorphins are the natural painkillers produced by the body that deal with pain caused internally or due to external factors. The pituitary gland releases this hormone, which blocks pain and consequently decreases its intensity. It makes one euphoric and is known to give the runner’s high. It helps to survive in a hostile environment and extreme conditions and to escape life-threatening situations. Those with low levels of endorphins are emotionally sensitive, have low tolerance of pain, and crave comfort foods. Getting out in the sun, listening to favourite music, a generous dose of laughter, regular exercise and foods with good fats like avocados, olives and coconuts, as also dark chocolate help raise the levels of endorphins.
Adrenaline, also known as Epinephrine, released by the adrenals helps in any tense situation, by preparing the body into fight or flight mode. It makes one concentrate on the most urgent need or task at the moment, to notice potential danger, and not pay attention to ongoing inconsequential discomforts. It dilates the pupils enabling to see better and to think much more quickly by stimulating the brain. It is used as a drug to stop a heart attack by constricting the veins causing the heart to pump more blood, and prevents airways from narrowing and brings breathing back to normal during an allergic reaction.
Norepinephrine or noradrenaline produced in the central nervous system and the adrenals helps the body to cope with high-stress situations with elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, increased heart rate and widened airways. It redirects the blood flow from the skin and limbs to the muscles and important organs required to function in potentially dangerous situations. This hormone is only produced when needed and disappears from the system after the threat is gone. Doctors use it to inject it in emergencies to restore critically low blood pressure. A deficiency can lead to mental health problems, brain fog, lack of interest in life, and eating disorders. Bananas, beans, chocolates, cheese, eggs, chicken, meat, fish, seafood and oatmeal, exercising, cold water dip, sweating it out in sauna are ways to increase epinephrine in the system.
Physiologically, hormones are essentially the regulators, released into the bloodstream by the ductless glands, serving as messengers to affect the target site, and for effecting the growth, metabolism and body composition. Chemically, hormones may be classified as either protein-derived such as peptides and amines or lipid-derived that of cholesterol and steroids.
The natural ways to enhance and balance hormones via nutritious diets and a healthy lifestyle needs to be kept up to be able to perform most optimally: Consumption of adequate proteins suppress appetite and help to feel full; Performing strength training, aerobics, walking or other physical activity protects muscle mass; High sugar and refined carbs impair efficiency and lead to insulin resistance; Engaging in meditation, yoga, massage and soothing music help normalize stress-hormone cortisol; Natural healthy fats check damaging trans fats; Consuming adequate calories maintains hormonal balances; Green tea and Essential fatty acids help insulin sensitivity in overweight or diabetics; Good quality sleep and high fibre intake increases fullness hormones and decreases stress hormones.