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Feeding the Sunshine In Your Gut

It’s probably safe to say I’m happier than you are.

Sound crazy? Just wait. I have science to back it up.

Better yet, I have a couple of simple tricks I can share with you that will help you be happier, too.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Isn’t ‘Think Right Thursday’ the day to talk about happiness?”

That’s true, but my kind of happiness is linked to wellness, and I have a couple of physical changes you can make to promote greater happiness in your life.

Ready?

Let’s dig in.

Chemical Superhighway

Our bodies are made up of incredible information superhighways – channels of communication populated by swirling chemicals, each carrying a message from one organ to another. We call these chemicals “neurotransmitters” (you’ve seen me refer to these before) and they are the language our body speaks to itself. Each neurotransmitter is assigned to a specific message – oxytocin communicates feelings of satisfaction, community, and intimacy. Adrenaline communicates action – the “fight or flight” mechanism. Dopamine responds to rewards (whether that’s feeding your need for recognition or your addiction to drugs).

There are dozens – maybe hundreds – of these neurotransmitters flowing through your nervous system. Not only do they manage your emotional responses to stimuli, the absence of them is an important cause of disease. Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Depression, Anxiety, Psychosis, Insomnia, and dozens of other diagnoses are directly tied to your body’s balance of neurotransmitters.

So, what does this have to do with happiness?

That satisfied sensation you feel after Thanksgiving is the result of serotonin flooding your nervous system.

The cheerful feeling of a sunny day – that’s serotonin, too.

That rush after a great workout – you’ll find serotonin in there.

Serotonin has several operations that it fulfills in the body, including sleep, mood, appetite, and sex drive, but one of the big ones is brain health. Interestingly, it doesn’t originate in your brain; it originates in your gut. That’s why I keep going back to the importance of healthy gut flora. The bacteria that populate your intestinal track do much more than just digest your food – some doctors call it your “second brain.” It regulates your immune system and creates an environment in your brain that is conducive to healthy synapses.

That’s why I’m happier than you…my serotonin is in a good place.

Of course, I’m not going to leave you there, all sad and gloomy while I go through my day, cheerful and content (I’m kidding…I’m sure you’re feeling fine), I’ve taken some simple, all-natural steps to keep my serotonin up and they are all available to you. Best of all, they are either free or found in your food.

Sunshine

I grew up in South Florida, so I have spent my whole life benefitting from the sun, which is one of the best sources of Vitamin D, lithium, and the elements that accelerate serotonin production. Millions of people have left behind their northern homes and joined me here. Why not? It’s great down here (for most of the year, anyway), and sunshine makes you feel better. In fact, one of the big culprits behind Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) up north is their limited exposure to direct sunlight, especially in the winter.

Fruit

We eat a ton of fruit down here, especially oranges, pineapple, bananas, and kiwi. These are all awesome serotonin triggers, and if you space them out around the clock, they do a good job of managing your sweet tooth and keeping your blood sugar in check.

Dark Leafy Greens

Remember when we spent the whole month of April looking at these powerhouse foods? These are some of the best things you can put in your body, and to add one more amazing benefit, they promote a flood of serotonin happiness.

Give Thanks!

Turkeys aren’t naturally cheerful – just ask one what his plans are for Thanksgiving sometime. But the sweet after-dinner glow of satisfaction is your body’s response to tryptophan. Not a turkey fan? There are plenty of naturally tryptophan-rich foods out there to help top off your happy tank. Enjoy your nap!

Exercise

Exercise has some amazing benefits for your body that even the guys at the gym don’t know about. It helps flush out your lymphatic system, improves mood and cognition, and it releases a flood of neurotransmitters into your body. From dopamine to oxytocin to norepinephrine to serotonin, your brain loves exercise.

So…am I really happier than you? Maybe not. At least, not for long, now that I’ve given you all my secrets. If you don’t want to move to South Florida with me, these are some easy choices you can make to pump up your serotonin, and your happiness.

Not only have I built my life on these serotonin-promoting choices, I’ve built my career on them, and I wanted to share my findings with you.

One other thought I just had…next time you go into your local organic food store, pick up a canister of turmeric and a bag of Camu Camu and add them to your smoothies regularly. More research is highlighting these two natural plant derivatives for their benefits to physical and emotional health. A teaspoon of Camu Camu is like a super-sized helping of Vitamin C. Powerful stuff. Someday, I’ll devote a blog to superfoods like these, so you’ll be a little better informed about them.

Join me tomorrow on “Think Right Thursday.” I’m going to highlight one other powerful side of happiness. You don’t want to miss it.

You probably know someone who could use this information. Please take a few seconds to share this article on Facebook. Also, if you’ve had some results with these serotonin-building strategies, I hope you’ll take a moment to share your success with our Facebook community. It’s growing every week, thanks to your faithful sharing. I appreciate it so much.

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

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