What Are Happy Hormones and How To Track Them?

Whether you prefect ticktok, instagram or any other social media platform, hormones are a hot topic on the internet atm and for very good reason.

Usually, the phrase ‘hormones’ tend to suggest that we all hold the power to drastically change both how we feel and our body’s reaction to different events, but really what does it mean to influence your hormones, and is it truly possible to even change them?

What are hormones?

Hormones are important and essentially chemical messages in our bodies. They travel all around and can affect different organs and tissues, working slowly and over time affecting various physical processes which includes:

  • Growth and developement
  • Mood
  • Metabolist: how the body gets it nutrients and oxgyen
  • Sexual function and reproduction.

The horomones are produced by the endocrine organs, which are a group of specialised cells, that are situtated in different locations across the body. The endocrine glands – the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyriod, adrenal, pancreas and sexual organs; testes in men and ovaries in women.

And all of these hormones are powerful substances! Even in small qualities these hormones can trigger a big reaction in cells across the body. Like; insulin which is produced by the pancreas is a big response to food ingestion. It facilitates the digestive processes and controls the transfer of glucose from the bloodstream, into each human cell the needs it to function.

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So is it really possible to control or alter our hormones?

The answer is no and yes! While technically your can’t control horomnes, there are certain lifestyle choices the can have an influence of how they react strongly. According to PeaceHealth.

For example, it has been scientifically proven, that intermittent fasting is an effective way to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, by reducing the release of insulin. A raw diet, higher in protein content and lower in processed carbohydrates, also has many benefits for lowering insulin, as well as the stress hormone, cortisol.

When cortisol and adrenaline are high causes of stress, their levels can be brought down by deep breaths, immersing yourself in cold water, laughing and meditating. These sorts of interventions can activate the rest and digest mode via the parasympathetic nervous system.

While we can attempt to influence individual hormones, by eating specific foods or activities, we should still remember that hormones are typically relied upon and play off each. This means that we can rarely influence a single hormone, without it having an impact on others, as they all work in an orchestrated way. Imagine it as a domino effect!

Yeah, our hormones are necessary and helpful in our human experience, but some undoubtedly feel a lot nicer than others…

The survival hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – are released when we are scared or find ourselves in an intense situation, putting us into a “fight and flight mode”. This leads to us having sweaty arms, butterflies in our stomachs, high blood pressure and pulse and shallow breathing. All of these give us good signs that we are getting a jolt of stress hormones.

There are a group of 4 hormones – dopamine, oxytocn, serotonin and endorphins- that are nicknamed “the happy hormones”, as they give us the feel of happy and sometimes euphoric feeling that they produce in us.

so let me break down what the ‘happy hormones’ are and when our bodies tend to create them…

Serotonin

Other than helping us with sleep, they also affect our mood, digestion and our ability to learn. When our serotonin levels are low, it can make us feel anxious or depressed, resulting in us having trouble sleeping or constant fatigue, as well as potential problems with our digestion too.

Oxytocin

This hormone is known as the love hormone, oxytocin is tend to be produced when we experience physical contact, not only with a partner but also when our skin is caressed an touched, for example; during a massage. Oxytoncin is also a very important hormone link to childbirth and breastfeeding. Our bodies also creates oxytocin when we stroke a our pets and is responisble for that fuzzy feeling, which also help to combat stress. Creating a sense of trust and bonding.

Endorphins

This hormone helps to boost happiness as well as acting as natural pain relief and means to help us cope with stress. It works very similar way to opioid drugs and a reduction in endorphins can cause us to develop depression.

Dopamine

These are known as the; ‘feel-good’ hormone, and is associated with our motivation – your reward for that motivation and self-affirmation. So if you had promised yourself that you can have the last scoop of ice after you’ve done all of your chores, to only find out that someone else has beaten you to it, that could lower your dopamine levels. Dopamine plays a vital role in all sorts of our body’s functions, from response to stress, how we process pain and even our heart and kidney function.

meditate

So what can you do to positively support your body’s hormone production?

Eating – Include plenty of healthy protein into your diet like; oily fish – salmon and mackerel, nuts and white meat. Fresh fruit and veg are also really good, especially dark leafy greens. Femented food such as homemade ginger beer, kimchi and kombucha can all boost your body.

Exercise – doing aerobic exercises is a good way to increase your heart rate and a great mood enhancer, especially if it involves getting out into the fresh air and letting the beautiful Mother Nature life our mood. Also, dancing, group exercise classes, swimming and yoga are great ways to contribute to a feeling of well-being.

Sleep – Whilst we are sleeping, our bodies produce less cortisol, a stress hormone. Our bodies also work in sync with the amount of light we are exposed to, this is known as circadian rhythm and functions over a 24hr period. Our bodies really like having consistency, which mean usless we get regular night’s sleep at roughly the same time every night, then our endocrine system can be knocked out of balance.

PetsAfter the stressful period of owning a pet is over (particularly with the demands of puppies and kittens, they can really support out mental well-being with simply by their presence. As by us stoking an animal or engaging with them, we can produce oxytocin.

Massage – Yes, having a massage is a great way to relieve our aches and pains away, plus getting our lymphatic system moving, the very fact of being touched by another human, is one of the greatest benefits. Through a human touch, oxytocin and endorphins are released, which why we feel relaxed after a massage.

Get Creative – This can be you listening to music, having a dance or trying your hand a something new, letting go or challenging yourself in a different way, will bring your happy hormones jump into action and dance along with you.

massage

How to deal with the downers

Natural light – By getting yourself out into the natural light, especially sunlight can really make us feel good, as it help in the production of dopamine. But you must still adhere to the guidelines when you’re in direct sunlight. Many of us tend to find that our moods alter during autum and winter, when there is less sunlight. So getting outside whatever the weather help to improve our moods and it worth considering a specific ligth to help tackle SAD.

Focused breathing – When you feel stressed, a great way to get these feeling under control is by focusing on your breathing, as this help to reduce cortisol levels. [Box breathing is one approach where you breathe in for counts of four, hold for four, breathe out for four and then hold for a further four before beginning the exercise again.] By focusing on your breathing can turn your focus away from the stressor and create space for you to let go of the fight and flight feeling and look at a problem in a more considered way.

The bottom line is

In every aspect of our human health and well-being involves hormones, and our body requires a very specific amount of them in order to function. Having an hormone inbalance can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart diease and other health conditions. Even though there a factors that can affect the hormone balance are often out of your control, there are still a few steps that you can take to help manage your hormone levels like; comsuming healthy foods, regular exercise and engaged in other health-promoting behaviours such as, meditating can go a really long to improving your hormone health.

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