Tricking Our Brain Chemistry

looking in the mirror* Use Natural Boosters. The dopamine receptors harbor the endorphins. Natural boosters for dopamine are healthy passions, hobbies, enjoyable exercise, laughter, meaningful work, and reward service from helping others. Serotonin helps control our impulses. Boosters for serotonin are positive attitudes, restful sleep, bonding with others, light from a window or getting outdoors.

* Reduce Your Sugar Intake. Sugar is highly palatable. Excessive amounts can trigger a compulsive drive to consume more. The majority of sugars in the American diet are from added sugars. Read the labels on products in the store and see for yourself. Sugar-sweetened drinks are the largest source of added sugars. Slurping your liquid candy fuels weight gain and stimulates appetite due to the weak satisfaction of empty calories. Those who regularly consume sweetened drinks over water may find natural sweet foods, such as fruit unappealing. Some research states that artificial sweeteners can cause weight gain because it is sweeter than sugar and raises our sweet threshold which increases our preference for sweet flavors. Others have found that artificial sweeteners may alter gastric emptying and insulin secretion. Most of the food we consume is turned into glucose ( sugar ) for our bodies to use as energy. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose into our cells. Pre-diabetes and diabetes type 2 results from insulin resistance. When this occurs with other risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure, the risk for heart disease and stroke rises.

* Lower Your Fat Intake. Saturated fat promotes a state of insulin resistance. Trans fatty acids promotes insulin resistance and a state of inflammation in the body. Within an hour of eating a meal high in saturated fat, triglycerides rise and remain elevated for 5-8 hours.

* Decrease Your Sodium Intake. Processed foods contain high amounts of sodium. The average person needs less than 1500 mg of salt a day. Read labels. Canned soups, TV dinners, and packaged noodles have anywhere from 900-1600mg of sodium in them. That is your daily allowance in one meal. What about the rest of your day? Sodium raises blood pressure. When your blood pressure stays high, it can lead to heart disease as well as weight gain and other problems.

* Take Your Vitamins. With today’s stressors, most people do not eat right or get the essential vitamins in their diet for a healthy body. Women in menopause age have less estrogen which lowers bone density. They need calcium and Vitamin D in their diet.

* Floss Your Teeth. Inflamed gums release substances into the bloodstream that cause clogged arteries. This can lead to stroke, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s dementia.

* Don’t Smoke. Smoking increases the tendency for blood to clot and decreases good cholesterol.

* Get Enough Rest. Sleep gives your brain a chance to sort and store information, solve problems, and replace chemicals. Sleep deprivation can affect everything from memory to the immune system. It contributes also to weight gain, depression, and alters stress hormones and thyroid levels.

* Stay Active. Thirty minutes a day of walking helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Resistance exercise, such as climbing stairs, guards against mass muscle loss. Finding time in our busy lives is a challenge but the benefits outweigh the sacrifice of time. Do you have a job that requires you to sit all day? Stand up and stretch. Hold onto the back of your chair and do some squats while you’re on the phone. Take a walk on your break. Get up and move.

So you want to live a better, healthy life? Cut down on sodium, sugar, and fat. Eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Include fiber and omega-3 in your diet and take your vitamins. Get plenty of sleep, floss, reduce your stress, don’t smoke, and move about.

Do you want to feel good and enjoy life? Try some natural boosters and change your patterns. Your brain and body will thank you.

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