Health concerns involving the emotions are on a steady increase worldwide. Experts look for plausible causes to explain this quandary, yet little is really understood about why as a society we are experiencing emotional concerns more than ever before. Among nutritional experts, one thing is certain. Our diets are grossly lacking in key nutrients that supply us with the raw material needed to produce primary brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, both requisite hormones for emotional health. How big the nutritional piece is to the overall puzzle remains a mystery. But for many individuals, revamping their diets to include missing essential fatty acids and amino acids has meant the difference between simply existing, and living life with passion, joy and real contentment.
Food is Central to the Behavior of Your Brain
While you may prefer to eat pepperoni pizza with cola or beer every night, your brain doesn’t. If you could ask your brain what it wanted for supper, it would request a nice size portion of lightly grilled sockeye salmon with a spicy lima bean & chili pepper salsa. Here’s why:
- The Omega-3 fatty acids and DMAE found in salmon offer just what the brain needs to keep neurons healthy and messages efficiently transmitting throughout them. These nutrients keep you on top of your game and facing forward with a positive outlook. Skeptical? Try salmon for yourself and you’ll be a believer.
- Lima beans provide a substantial dose of the amino acid L-tyrosine from which the body makes the neurotransmitter dopamine to keep moods regulated.
- Chili peppers rev up circulation to get nutrient-carrying blood to all areas of the brain.
Your brain absolutely loves clean, pure water, too. Before taking a bite of food or drink, remember that your brain is a guest at every meal. Treat it well, and you’ll be repaid with what the French call “joie de vivre,” or joy of living.
Help at the Right Time
Make Omega-3 essential fatty acids a staple in your diet, whether you get them from salmon, tuna, herring or other coldwater fish, or from high quality dietary supplements. Flax seed is a source of these EFAs, too, but fish oil is better. Fish oil provides preformed amounts of DHA and EPA, which are two of the primary Omega-3 EFAs for brain health, whereas your liver has to convert flax seed to these EFAs. In addition to the Omega-3 EFAs, there are 8 supplements offering specific assistance for brain health that significantly affect the emotions. You won’t need to take all of them every day, but rather on an as-needed basis.
- Calcium & Magnesium—Calcium is absolutely necessary for a healthy nervous system and works wonders to lessen emotional concerns, while magnesium counteracts stress.
- L-Tyrosine—This amino acid raises levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which influences moods.
- St. John’s Wort—St. John's wort has a long history of use for emotional health, and modern day researchers verify that it really is effective for mild to moderate situations.
- SAMe—Necessary for the production of neurotransmitters, the means by which neurons (nerve cells) communicate with each other. When we don’t produce enough neurotransmitters and communication between cells is unable to take place, emotional health suffers greatly.
- 5-HTP—Helps increase levels of serotonin, known as the “feel good” hormone, in the brain.
- Melatonin—At night the pineal gland produces this hormone to help us sleep. As we age, however, our bodies manufacture less of it. During times of high stress we may not be able to fall asleep at all, which only compounds any emotional troubles we’re experiencing. Melatonin supplements may help alleviate an inability to sleep.
- Relora—Relora, a patented extract from two plants, helps control the release of stress hormones, and the result is a feeling of calmness and stability with less irritation.
- Vitamins B & C—Required for normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. Not surprisingly, many people who feel stressed out are also deficient in the B-complex and vitamin C.
When it comes to emotional health, attitude may not be everything, but it is a huge slice of the pie. Numerous studies conclude that optimistic people are not only happier, but they’re also healthier with stronger immune systems. So how does one gain an optimistic outlook? Gratitude plays a big part. When life seems unfair, overwhelming, or filled with distress, pause to consider the many things for which you’re thankful. No doubt you can think of lots of these situations, but meditating on them will sound them into your heart and mind to permanently affect your outlook. For instance, if the love of your life decides to up and leave you, that can be a debilitating and highly upsetting situation. Still, if you are able to focus your attention on things for which you’re grateful, it won’t seem so devastating. What about the terrific children that you gained from the union? Think about how great they’re doing in school and how much pleasure you derive from them. Imagine what life would be like without them, and then reassure yourself that they are very much a part of your life. Feel how happy that makes you and be grateful that you are so fortunate! Consciously approach all situations in this manner, and positive thinking will become second nature.