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Got Happiness? Learn How To Boost Dopamine And Create Your Own Joy!

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Got Happiness? Learn How To Boost Dopamine And Create Your Own Joy!
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Dr. Edward F. GroupGuest Writer

What does happiness mean to you? We all know money can’t buy it, and not even the most enterprising of entrepreneurs have figured out how to bottle it. No matter how hard they try, experts can’t seem to crack the code on how to be happy.

The good news? When you modify your daily routine in small ways, you can increase the neurotransmitter dopamine. One of the main effects of dopamine is boosting feelings of happiness and pleasure.[1] You hold the power to create your own happiness!

Here’s how.

What Is Dopamine?

Dopamine is a “feel good” neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation.[1] Like all neurotransmitters, dopamine transmits messages between nerve cells in the brain and body. It works with another feel-good neurotransmitter — serotonin.

Higher levels of dopamine in the brain result in a positive mood. This means there is a relationship between the amount of dopamine your body releases and how happy you feel.[1]  That means that by changing small things in your life, you can boost your body’s dopamine production and essentially create your own happiness!

How Do I Boost Dopamine to Create Happiness?

There are many ways to increase dopamine levels and create happiness for yourself. Here are our best suggestions.

Practice Positivity and Gratitude

People tend to base their sense of well-being on the balance between positive and negative emotions.[2] Since increased dopamine is connected to a positive mood, cultivating good feelings can help you create happiness — and it will grow over time.[2]

Wondering how to incorporate the power of positive thinking into your life? Keep a notebook or journal where you write down at least one good thing that happened to you every day. Better yet, write five. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude!

So, banish negative thoughts and focus on the positive. Identify small and big happy moments to shift your focus and increase dopamine.

Fill Your Day With Things You Love

Another simple way to create your own happiness involves filling your day with little things that make you happy. Take a long, luxurious bath before bed. Create for yourself a relaxing, comfortable home with items that spark joy. Give back to others.

Spreading joy to yourself and others gives you something to look forward to. This can fill your emotional reservoir, which can help during not-so-happy moments.

Social worker Michelle K. learned the happiness-boosting power of anticipation when her son was a newborn. “Caring for a new baby can be really hard! I started treating myself to a big cup of coffee after lunch every day,” she explains. “It’s a small thing that makes a big difference. Looking forward to drinking it kept my spirits high during tough times.”

Get Your Sleep On!

Happy days start with restful nights. Ask anyone who has felt low after a late night or dealt with a cranky kid who missed his nap: sleep quality has a significant impact on mood.[3] A lack of sleep can also trigger junk food cravings, & poor food choices leave you feeling worse.[4] It’s a cycle that you can flip the script on!

Dopamine helps regulate circadian rhythms in the central nervous system.[5] Generally, dopamine makes you feel more awake by suppressing melatonin — the sleep hormone.

When your body does not produce enough dopamine, or the dopamine you have can’t get recycled in the normal physiological processes, you sleep less. So mind your dopamine if you want to get sleep — which will make you happier!

Treat Yourself to a Massage

You can’t buy happiness, but you can pay for a professional massage. Better yet, have your partner do it for free! The healing power of touch will increase dopamine and serotonin while reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.[6]

Wisconsin-based art director Curtis W. started getting massages to treat lower back pain, but it didn’t take long for him to notice how uplifted he felt after every session. “I’d walk out of the massage therapist’s office feeling like a million bucks,” he says, “and the mood boost would last for days.”

Even after his back pain went away, Curtis continued to get regular massages. “Any time I’m feeling low, I schedule a massage. I’m always a happier, more relaxed person afterward.”

Meditate

Looking for a science-backed way to create your own happiness that won’t cost you a thing? Try meditation. Meditation involves sitting still and staying quiet for a period of time — a minimum of five minutes, but preferably ten or longer.

The change in consciousness that occurs when you’re in a meditative state triggers the body to release more dopamine.[7] And this leads to a more peaceful, happier state of mind.

One of the best things about meditation is that it doesn’t require any special equipment or a huge time commitment. It can take some time to learn to meditate, but it’s not hard! Check out our article about Dr. Group’s beginner’s meditation techniques. Meditation is wonderful, simple tool to improve your mood. The more you do it, the better you will feel.

Exercise Regularly

If you’ve felt the so-called “runner’s high” after a great workout — or after a hearty yoga session — you experienced an increase in dopamine.[8] One of the benefits of exercise is that it bumps up serum calcium levels in the body, which enhances dopamine signals and synthesis.[8] The result? A natural “high” feeling.

Retail buyer Joy P. started running because she wanted to lose a few pounds before her wedding, but exercise became much more about her emotional wellbeing than her weight.

I’m an anxious person, and I was amazed by how much happier and less stressed I felt after running,” she says. “Now it’s my therapy. I started running 15 years ago, and I still do it at least twice a week!”

Take Your Vitamins!

In addition to making lifestyle changes that increase dopamine, your body requires specific vitamins and minerals to produce this neurotransmitter at healthy levels. Certain nutrients found in supplemental form — or in the diet — also promote normal levels of dopamine. Make sure to get enough of the following:

Vitamin D

Often called the sunshine vitamin, your body produces vitamin D naturally — but makes less in low-light conditions. This leads many people to become deficient in winter months. Vitamin D helps regulate dopamine circuits, which influences why people often become sad during the winter.[9, 10]

Low D not only reduces dopamine but can also lead to obesity![9] Make sure you get enough. Global Healing’s Suntrex® D3 is an organic, vegan vitamin D supplement that boosts brain and nervous system health, has a positive effect on the immune system, and promotes normal dopamine levels.

Calcium and Magnesium

Calcium and magnesium both play an important role in the pathways by which your brain produces dopamine. People who feel down are often deficient in magnesium and have low dopamine levels.[11]

Nearly half of the people in the United States consume less than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium from their food. So many people have either deficiencies or subclinical deficiencies that global experts call it a public health emergency.[12]

Since both calcium and magnesium promote normal dopamine levels, make sure you get enough of these essential minerals. It will help keep your mood more positive, promoting happiness and joy.[13] They’re often sold together, and the best supplements include calcium: magnesium in a 1:1 ratio, like Global Healing’s IntraCal®.

Probiotics

Probiotic supplements — helpful microbes — also play a role in promoting a healthful mood.[14, 15, 16] Multiple studies have linked probiotic intake to a happier mood and improved overall mental health.[15] Strains known to influence mental wellness are called psychobiotics.[16]

Some strains may promote normal dopamine, such as Lactobacillus plantarum.[14] Look for a high-quality, multi-strain formula, such as Floratrex®, a blend of prebiotics plus live cultures from 25 probiotic strains, including Lactobacillus plantarum.

Turmeric

Curcumin, the main active constituent in turmeric, has mood-elevating properties because it modulates the release of dopamine and serotonin.[17]

When paired with black pepper (piperine), turmeric is better absorbed by the body.[17] Look for a supplement like Global Healing’s Organic Turmeric Raw Herbal Extract™ that contains black pepper as well as Energized Trace Minerals™ to heighten absorption.

Oregano

The oil of Mediterranean oregano (Origanum vulgare) can lift mood because of the way it interacts with the body system that produces dopamine.[18] Oregano’s active ingredient, called carvacrol, has many promising health benefits.

When used regularly, carvacrol may promote normal dopamine and serotonin levels in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, parts of the brain involved in behavior and thought processes.[19]

Points to Remember

You may not be able to buy happiness, but you can create your own! Lifestyle choices like positive thinking, filling your day with things you love, getting enough sleep, treating yourself to a mood-lifting massage, meditating, and exercising regularly can boost dopamine — and your happiness.

Using supplements to support normal dopamine levels is a powerful way to promote happiness. Vitamin D, magnesium, probiotics, ginseng, turmeric, and oregano are all great for this happiness boost.

What do you do to create your own happiness? Do you have any tips on how to increase dopamine naturally? We’d love to hear about what works for you.

References
  1. Dfarhud D, et al. Happiness & health: the biological factors- systematic review article. Iran J Public Health. 2014;43(11):1468-1477.
  2. Fredrickson BL. The role of positive emotions in positive psychology. The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. Am Psychol. 2001;56(3):218-226.
  3. Triantafillou S, et al. Relationship between sleep quality and mood: ecological momentary assessment study. JMIR Ment Health. 2019;6(3):e12613.
  4. Greer SM, et al. The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nat Commun. 2013;4:2259.
  5. Korshunov KS, et al. Dopamine: a modulator of circadian rhythms in the central nervous system. Front Cell Neurosci. 2017;11:91.
  6. Field T, et al. Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy. Int J Neurosci. 2005 Oct;115(10):1397-1413.
  7. Kjaer TW, et al. Increased dopamine tone during meditation-induced change of consciousness. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2002 Apr;13(2):255-259.
  8. Sutoo D, Akiyama K. Regulation of brain function by exercise. Neurobiol Dis. 2003 Jun;13(1):1-14.
  9. Trinko JR, et al. Vitamin D3: A role in dopamine circuit regulation, diet-induced obesity, and drug consumption. eNeuro. 2016;3(2):ENEURO.0122-15.2016.
  10. Bertone-Johnson ER. Vitamin D and the occurrence of depression: causal association or circumstantial evidence? Nutr Rev. 2009;67(8):481-492.
  11. Serefko A, et al. Magnesium in depression. Pharmacol Rep. 2013;65(3):547-554.
  12. DiNicolantonio JJ, et al. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018;5(1):e000668.
  13. Cardoso CC, et al. Evidence for the involvement of the monoaminergic system in the antidepressant-like effect of magnesium. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Mar 17;33(2):235-242.
  14. Liu WH, et al. Alteration of behavior and monoamine levels attributable to Lactobacillus plantarum PS128 in germ-free mice. Behav Brain Res. 2016 Feb 1;298(Pt B):202-209.
  15. McKean J, et al. Probiotics and subclinical psychological symptoms in healthy participants: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Apr;23(4):249-258.
  16. Wall R, et al. Bacterial neuroactive compounds produced by psychobiotics. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:221-239.
  17. Kulkarni SK, Dhir A. An overview of curcumin in neurological disorders. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2010;72(2):149-154.
  18. Melo FH, et al. Antidepressant-like effect of carvacrol (5-Isopropyl-2-methylphenol) in mice: involvement of dopaminergic system. Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2011 Jun;25(3):362-367.
  19. Zotti M, et al. Carvacrol: from ancient flavoring to neuromodulatory agent. Molecules. 2013 May 24;18(6):6161-6172.

Originally published at Global Healing Center and reproduced here with permission.

Recommended Articles by Dr. Edward Group
About the Author

Dr. Edward F. Group III (DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM) founded Global Healing Center in 1998 with the goal of providing the highest quality natural health information and products. He is world-renowned for his research on the root cause of disease. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center earned recognition as one of the largest natural and organic health resources in the world. Dr. Group is a veteran of the United States Army and has attended both Harvard and MIT business schools. He is a best-selling author and a frequent guest on radio and television programs, documentary films, and in major publications.

Dr. Group centres his philosophy around the understanding that the root cause of disease stems from the accumulation of toxins in the body and is exacerbated by daily exposure to a toxic living environment. He believes it is his personal mission to teach and promote philosophies that produce good health, a clean environment, and positive thinking. This, he believes, can restore happiness and love to the world.

For more, please visit Global Healing Center.

Please SHARE this article with your family and friends.

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4 Ways To Know If Your Body Is Overwhelmed By Toxins

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4 Ways To Know If Your Body Is Overwhelmed By Toxins
Photo Credit: Pexels

Mary West, Guest Writer

We live in a toxic environment, being exposed to an estimated 2.5 billion pounds of chemicals each year. Once these toxins accumulate in the body, they may manifest in an array of symptoms.

It is impossible to escape this continuous bombardment of harmful chemicals; we come into contact with substances that can negatively impact our system several times a day. We breathe toxic chemicals in the air, ingest them in our food and absorb them through our skin.

Synthetic ingredients are found in fragrances and lotions, and sodium laurel sulphates are present in some toothpastes, soaps and shampoos. And the chemical assaults in the home don’t end there.

Our homes are laden with the toxins found in household cleaning products, “air fresheners” and pesticides, and some clothing, furniture upholstery and carpeting are even treated with toxic, hormone disrupting flame-retardants.

And our food? Well, it’s no secret that our food is loaded with chemical additives such as MSG, dyes and sucralose, while food containers can contain BPA. OUCH!

Think you can cleanse with just a healthy dose of H2O? Think again. Water systems are contaminated with lead and have been treated with fluoride, chlorine and many other chemicals.

4 Signs of Toxicity
1.  Constipation

Bowel evacuation is the body’s natural way of eliminating waste. If you do not have a good-sized bowel movement every day, toxins are being reabsorbed into the blood stream and affecting your health.

2. Bad breath

This problem can indicate that your colon and liver are not eliminating toxins well.

3. Extra sensitivity to smells

If you have strong reactions to smoke, perfumes and other smells, you may be experiencing toxic overload.

4. Overweight

Difficulty in shedding extra pounds can be due to eating the wrong foods, but toxicity can also play a role. Some toxins like dioxins and pesticides are stored in the fat cells. When the body is storing a large quantity of these harmful chemicals, it poses a greater challenge to weight control.

Symptoms of Toxicity

The maladies that can ensue from chronic toxicity are too numerous to mention, but here are a few. Toxic overload can cause headaches, joint pain and rashes along with difficulty concentrating, food cravings and acne. Diseases related to toxicity include cancer, depression and attention deficit disorder in addition to autoimmune conditions, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis.

11 Easy Ways to Detoxify
  1. Drink green tea, which is a natural purifier.
  2. Drink plenty of filtered water to flush toxins out of your system.
  3. Eat foods high in fibre, which include fruit, vegetables and grains as well as nuts and seeds. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli are especially helpful. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds per day is beneficial as well. Incorporate garlic, parsley and cilantro into your diet, as they are natural detoxifiers.
  4. Avoid processed foods and refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta. Get in the habit of reading food labels to avoid those that are high in additives.
  5. Exercise regularly to eliminate toxins through perspiration.
  6. Dry-brush your skin with a natural bristle brush or loofa sponge. Use brushing strokes that more toward the heart rather than away from it. If you need some dry brushing tip, check out this article.
  7. Practice deep-breathing techniques.
  8. Reduce alcohol intake and avoid taking unnecessary drugs.
  9. A 24-hour fruit fast is very beneficial for internal cleansing and eliminating toxins. In this type of fast you only eat only fresh raw fruits, instead of those that are canned or cooked.
  10. Fit for Life  authors recommends a daily fruit fast by eating nothing but fruit and fresh fruit juices every morning until noon. It is a means of everyday cleansing.
  11. The use of a castor oil pack is a time-honoured method of detoxification.
Article Sources
Recommended Articles by Mary West

Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance overall wellness. Ms. West is the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies, and  the creator of alternativemedicinetruth.com, a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects.

About the Author

This article was republished with permission from Live in the Now, one of the fastest growing natural health newsletters. Visit LiveInTheNow.com to browse their complete library of articles, or join the nearly 60,000 readers subscribed to their Newsletter

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8 Foods That Boost Your Immune System

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8 Foods That Boost Your Immune System
Photo Credit: Pexels

Dr. Edward F. GroupGuest Writer

If you’re looking for an immune system boost, the right vitamins and minerals can help. Although diet gets little attention in conventional media when it comes to supporting the immune system, it is one of the most powerful methods for keeping colds and other illnesses at bay. Nutrition isn’t the only means of immune system support but it is one of the oldest and most reliable natural approaches.

The 8 Best Foods for Your Immune System

The majority of your immune cells reside in your intestines, so doesn’t it make sense to consume healthy foods for keeping your immune system top notch? Here are 8 foods you can eat right now to boost your immune system.

1. Bell Peppers

Reach for all the bell peppers you want because they can actually have twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits. In addition, bell peppers are a great source of beta-carotene, which not only helps maintain healthy skin and eyes but studies suggest they could also provide an immune system boost. [1] [2]

2. Citrus

Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C. Believed to increase the production of white blood cells, C is essential for fighting off infections. Since your body doesn’t produce or store this vitamin, load up on citrus to help keep your immune system up and running. Supplementation with the vitamin may be helpful, but it’s always best to receive the vitamin from its natural source.

3. Ginger

Ginger is thought to work much like vitamin C in that it can even stop a cold before it starts. That said, it’s also a great food to reach for after you’re sick. Ginger can have a little heat due to the gingerol, a cousin of sorts to capsaicin—the stuff that makes chilli peppers hot. It’s the “kick” of the gingerol that can even act as a strong soothing agent. [3]

4. Turmeric

You can find this spice in many curries; it’s bright yellow in color, and a little bitter in taste, but it can definitely be pretty amazing for your health. While it’s already been used for its soothing capabilities for arthritis (among other things), a recent study suggests high concentrations of curcumin—what gives turmeric its color—could also reduce fever. [4] [5]

5. Spinach

With vitamin C, beta-carotene, and plenty of antioxidants, spinach is a perfect vegetable for your immune system. If you want to get the most out of it though, cook it as little as possible or even keep it raw. But don’t stop at spinach; a study suggests that other leafy green vegetables are good choices as well. [6]

6. Broccoli

Like spinach, broccoli is another great vegetable choice packed with antioxidants and vitamins. With vitamins A, C, and E, broccoli could easily be one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. Just like with spinach, cook it as little as possible to retain its nutrients.

7. Yogurt

If you like yogurt, make sure you’re getting the full health benefit by eating the kind with live cultures. Recent research suggests these cultures may strengthen your immune system. [7] Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, which can also help boost the immune system. [8]

8. Almonds

When your immune system needs a boost, vitamin E sometimes loses the spotlight to vitamin C, but both are crucial for a healthy immune system. Vitamin E is fat-soluble, which means fat is needed in order for it to be absorbed properly. You can get almost all of your daily allowance of this vitamin by reaching for a half-cup of almonds. How easy is that?

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References
  1. Hughes, D. A. Effects of carotenoids on human immune function. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 58 (3).
  2. Chew, B. P. & Park, J. S. Carotenoid Action on the Immune Response. The Journal of Nutrition. 134 (1).
  3. Grzanna, R. et al. Ginger—An Herbal Medicinal Product with Broad Anti-Inflammatory Actions. Journal of Medicinal Food. 8 (2).
  4. Jagetia G. C, & Aggarwal B. B. “Spicing up” of the immune system by curcumin.Journal of Clinical Immunology. 27 (1).
  5. Sultana, G. N. et al. Analgesic principle from Curcuma amada. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 163.
  6. Li, Y. et al. Exogenous Stimuli Maintain Intraepithelial Lymphocytes via Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Activation. Cell. 147 (3).
  7. Meydani, S. N. & Ha W. Immunologic effects of yogurt. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 71 (4).
  8. Aranow, C. Vitamin D and the Immune System. Vitamin D and the Immune System.
Recommended Articles by Dr. Edward Group
About the Author

Dr. Edward F. Group III (DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM) founded Global Healing Center in 1998 with the goal of providing the highest quality natural health information and products. He is world-renowned for his research on the root cause of disease. Under his leadership, Global Healing Center earned recognition as one of the largest natural and organic health resources in the world. Dr. Group is a veteran of the United States Army and has attended both Harvard and MIT business schools. He is a best-selling author and a frequent guest on radio and television programs, documentary films, and in major publications.

Dr. Group centres his philosophy around the understanding that the root cause of disease stems from the accumulation of toxins in the body and is exacerbated by daily exposure to a toxic living environment. He believes it is his personal mission to teach and promote philosophies that produce good health, a clean environment, and positive thinking. This, he believes, can restore happiness and love to the world.

For more, please visit Global Healing Center.

Please SHARE this article with your family and friends.

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Here’s What You Should Know About Pumpkins

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Here’s What You Should Know About Pumpkins
Photo Credit: Pexels

Dr. MercolaGuest Writer

From the time you were a small child, you may have been conditioned to expect new and exciting things as autumn arrives. Every fall, children go back to school, see their friends and begin to anticipate the holiday season. One of the fruits closely associated with fall is pumpkin.

From pumpkin pie to pumpkin spice lattes or jack-o-lanterns it’s likely you associate fall with some type of pumpkin. Kathryn Lively, professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, spoke with a reporter from The Huffington Post about the expectations children have and how this conditions a response pattern that often travels into adulthood.1

Fall is a structural landmark, in the way significant dates help create structure in the perception of the passage of time.2 For example, just as January 1 is a landmark associated with developing personal growth and development goals, fall may be a time when your anticipation begins to grow, and you’re motivated to learn new skills or change behaviours.

Licensed psychologist and professor at Chapman University Amy Jane Griffiths, Ph.D., says, “We all crave the comfort and security that comes with traditions and predictability.”3 Many of us have traditions and events associated with fall weather, while others may dread the leaves changing or signs that winter is coming.

What Color Are Your Pumpkins?

Many have an interest in the science behind your anticipation of fall weather, fall foods and the hope of curling up with a blanket and a good movie. But it may still be difficult to explain the vast number of people who buy pumpkins each fall. In the U.S., Illinois is the No. 1 producer of this round orange squash, growing twice as many each year than in the other five top producing states.4

While you might think of it as a vegetable, the pumpkin is a fruit that’s known as much for its place in the kitchen as on your front porch. Mary Liz Wright, a University of Illinois Extension specialist, does not advise using your typical jack-o-lantern pumpkin in your fall recipes.5

This is because there are two distinct species of pumpkin. The first has been bred for size, structure and color to enhance your fall decor. The second is bred for consistency, flavour and texture of the meat. Pumpkins that are bred for flavour are tan or buckskin color on the outside with bright orange flesh on the inside.

They’re also more reminiscent of butternut squash in shape, rather than the more rounded outline of decorative pumpkins. Nathan Johanning, also a University of Illinois Extension specialist, spoke about the 2020 fall crop and the agritourism trade pumpkins support, sharing that one farm in Illinois had 5,000 tourists pass through in one weekend.

If you’re planning on saving the flesh from your pumpkins, Wright advises you cook and freeze it, since it is not advisable to can pumpkin or even pressure can it. The center of the dense flesh may not get hot enough to prevent botulism growth, which you can avoid by cooking it first and then freezing it.

Nutritious and Delicious Pumpkins

There are many health benefits to eating pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, as you’ll see in this short video. Although you can buy them year-round at the store, consider adding pumpkins to your garden since nearly every part of the plant can be eaten. You’ll be assured of a toxin-free fruit from which you can harvest the seeds as well as carve and cook your pumpkins in the fall.

Dried pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, are high in healthy fats and rich in omega-3 fats, zinc, calcium, iron and an array of phytochemicals.6 After being dried and shelled, the seeds have just 180 calories in one-fourth cup and are also packed with manganese, phosphorus, copper and magnesium.7

People have used pumpkin seed extract and oil in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. This is a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that may respond to the nutrients found in pumpkin seeds. Because most of the studies have involved extracts or oils from pumpkin seeds, it’s not possible to extrapolate the information to eating the pumpkin seeds themselves.8

The meat of the pumpkin contains only 49 calories in 1 cup of cooked mashed flesh. It is rich in riboflavin and vitamins A, C and E.9 The rich orange color indicates the high level of beta-carotenes and antioxidants that your body uses to neutralize free radicals.

The high levels of vitamin A and C have a positive impact on your immune system, and it is a major source of lutein and zeaxanthin linked to healthy eyesight.10 The high levels of potassium, vitamin C and fibre are all associated with cardiovascular benefits.

For instance, one literature analysis found an inverse association between potassium and the risk of stroke.11 Another study demonstrated people with higher levels of potassium intake had lower risk of high blood pressure.12 The levels of beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C all contribute to healthy skin, collagen production13 and protection against the damage of ultraviolet rays.14

Pumpkin Seeds May Reduce Your Risk of Kidney Stones

In addition to the health benefits listed above, pumpkin seeds have a special superpower: They protect your kidneys by reducing the risk of calcium-oxalate crystal formation, better known as kidney stones. There are four types of kidney stones that can form, including calcium, struvite, uric acid and cystine stones.15 Of these, calcium oxalate is the most common.

Nearly 80% of calcium stones that form are calcium oxalate. By manipulating urine chemistry through dietary intake, you can help prevent calcium stone formation. The highest urine chemistry risk factors for calcium oxalate crystals are hypercalciuria and hyperoxaluria.16

Dietary risk factors that increase your potential for calcium oxalate stones include chronic dehydration and a diet that is rich in protein, oxalates, sodium and sugar.17 People with certain digestive disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease, can also have a higher risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones. Oxalate can be found in these foods:18,19

BeansBeetsBeer
ChocolateCoffeeCranberries
PeanutsRhubarbSoda
Sweet potatoesTea (black)Dark green vegetables, such as spinach

One study evaluated the ability of pumpkin seed supplementation to change the chemistry of the participants’ urine and reduce the risk of calcium oxalate crystal formation.20 Researchers engaged 20 boys from the Ubol Province in Thailand where there is a high incidence of kidney stones.21

During the experiment the boy’s urine was measured before any intervention as a control period. During two periods of the intervention they received an oxalate supplement and a pumpkin seed or orthophosphate supplement. The participants’ urine chemistry was tested before and after each intervention.

The results of the study showed that while the boys were receiving the pumpkin seed supplement, the urine chemistry had the lowest potential risk for calcium oxalate crystal formation. The researchers found the high levels of phosphorus in the pumpkin seed may be a “potential agent in lowering the risk of bladder-stone disease.”22

Pumpkin Spice Blend Elicits an Emotional Response

The scents associated with pumpkin pie are not strictly from pumpkin but, rather, a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, which are the traditional spices used in the pie. This combination of scents can trigger a strong emotional response in your brain, which causes you to recall experiences associated with the smell.23

The emotional response that doors generate have an impact on your decision to like or dislike something. Your sense of smell and memory are closely linked since scents travel from the limbic system through the amygdala and hippocampus, which are regions of the brain related to emotion and memory.24

The scent of pumpkin spices is popular during the fall months, especially in homemade products and the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Catherine Franssen, Ph.D., director of psychology at Longwood University, is a fan of the flavour and understands why this particular combination of spices elicits an emotional response. She commented to CNN:25

“Since these are popular spice combinations, it’s very likely we would have encountered some or all of them combined in a favourite baked good in a comforting situation, like a family gathering, early in life. It’s not just the pumpkin spice combo but that we’ve already wired a subset of those spices as ‘good’ very early in life.”

Starbucks seemed to stumble onto their popular Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003 when it was first released.26 Each fall the Pumpkin Spice Latte drink makes a return to stores, along with other “pumpkin-flavoured” drinks — which may or may not actually have pumpkin in them — and baked goods. This year it’s the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew.27

In a press release, Peter Dukes, product manager who led the development of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, commented, “Nobody knew back then what it would grow to be. It’s taken on a life of its own.”28

However, as enticing as the scent may be, the product is loaded with sugar and packs a whopping 52 grams of carbohydrates into a 16-ounce mug.29 Instead, consider making the healthy and tasty alternative at home demonstrated in the video below.

Neuroscience, Sugar Addiction and Marketing

The emotional response generated by scent is something marketers take advantage of. Pleasant scents affect your mood, which is a way of engaging your hand-to-wallet response.

In experiments comparing odourless placebo sprays against fragrances, researchers found while you will have a response to the placebo when you anticipate the fragrance, the actual scent has a dramatic effect on improving your mood.30

Although your preference is highly personalized, a general assumption is made that most people will find pumpkin spice in the fall and cinnamon during Christmas associated with good memories. As the scent of pumpkin spice triggers a happy memory, it can also trigger a desire to buy a cup. Franssen comments on the neuroscience involved in scent and advertising:31

“When an door or flavour — and 80% of flavour is actually smell — is combined with sucrose or sugar consumption in a hungry person, the person learns at a subconscious, physiological level to associate that flavour with all the wonderful parts of food digestion.

[For that reason] the pumpkin spice latte is actually, scientifically, kind of addictive. Not quite the same neural mechanisms as drugs of abuse, but certainly the more you consume, the more you reinforce the behavior and want to consume more.”

The popular trend of promoting all things pumpkin in the fall even generated a hoax in 2014 when a Facebook meme reported Charmin toilet tissue would soon be released in a new pumpkin spice scent. Not soon after Charmin Company tweeted: “While we love it, we can promise you this. You will not be seeing #PumpkinSpice Charmin anytime soon. #StopTheMadness”32

References
  1. Huffington Post, October 11th, 2016
  2. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2013;104(2)
  3. Bustle, September 14, 2020
  4. USDA: Pumpkins October 26, 2020
  5. The Southern Illinoisan November 8, 2020
  6. Nutrition Data, Seeds, Pumpkin and Squash Seed Kernels
  7. World’s Healthiest Foods, Pumpkin Seeds
  8. World’s Healthiest Foods, Pumpkin Seeds
  9. Nutrition Data, Pumpkin, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
  10. Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi, 2011;45(1):64
  11. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2016;5(10)
  12. International Journal of Cardiology, 2017;230:127
  13. Nutrients, 2017;9(8)
  14. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012;96(5)
  15. Mayo Clinic, Kidney Stones
  16. CMAJ, 2006;174(10)
  17. National Kidney Foundation, Calcium Oxalate Stones, Who is at risk
  18. Michigan Medicine, Foods High in Oxalate
  19. National Kidney Foundation, Six Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones
  20. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1987;45(1)
  21. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1967;20(12)
  22. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1987;45(1)
  23. Social Issues Research Centre, The Smell Report
  24. The Harvard Gazette, February 27, 2020
  25. CNN, September 14, 2017 Para 6
  26. AdWeek, Give Me My Pumpkin Spice Latte
  27. Starbucks
  28. Starbucks Newsroom, September 5, 2017
  29. Starbucks, Pumpkin Spice Latte
  30. Social Issues Research Centre, The Smell Report
  31.  CNN, September 14, 2017 Section: Actually Scientifically Kind of Addictive
  32. Twitter

Originally published at mercola.com and reproduced here with permission.

Recommended Articles by Dr. Joseph Mercola
About the Author

Born and raised in the inner city of Chicago, IL, Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician trained in both traditional and natural medicine. Board-certified in family medicine, Dr. Mercola served as the chairman of the family medicine department at St. Alexius Medical Center for five years, and in 2012 was granted fellowship status by the American College of Nutrition (ACN).

While in practice in the late 80s, Dr. Mercola realized the drugs he was prescribing to chronically ill patients were not working. By the early 90s, he began exploring the world of natural medicine, and soon changed the way he practiced medicine.

In 1997 Dr. Mercola founded Mercola.com, which is now routinely among the top 10 health sites on the internet. His passion is to transform the traditional medical paradigm in the United States. “The existing medical establishment is responsible for killing and permanently injuring millions of Americans… You want practical health solutions without the hype, and that’s what I offer.”

Visit Mercola.com for more information, or read Dr. Mercola’s full bio and resumé here.

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Health

The Powerful Effect Of Heart-Centered Healing On The Human Body – 7 Simple Actions You Can Take

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The Powerful Effect Of Heart-Centered Healing On The Human Body – 7 Simple Actions You Can Take
Photo Credit: Pexels

Michael Forrester, Guest Writer

Every cause of disease first begins with an imbalance in the body’s energy systems, specifically, the interaction between how the heart communicates with the brain and the body. Fix that and there is no disease, ever. The heart can produce an electrical field 100 times greater than the brain and a magnetic field 5000 times greater. Which one are you using to heal?

Emotions are vibrations which influence consistently our reality. We not only think and work our way through a day, meeting, assignment, but also feel and believe our way through it. The outcome depends on both.

Simply put, the number one cause of health is your energetic and emotional state. How you connect emotionally to your overall wellness and wellbeing is more important than any supplement, food, exercise or health treatment. There is only one cause of disease and that has to do with the energy and frequency imbalances that exist within your body. Rectify that, and disease cannot exist… it would be impossible.

All the emotions are varieties of two: fear and love: Fear/stress is contagious and causes contraction: inhibits creativity, brain activity, inhibits the immune system, selective perception and over extensive periods of time leads to breakdown. Love (positive beliefs and emotions) has high impact and causes expansion: creativity, physical and mental endurance, more productivity in shorter time because we take decisions quicker because we are receptive and highly perceptive. This question of Math, HeartMath, as per the contribution in this field of the HeartMath Institute: when one has accurate information, takes better decisions.

The quality of the field one creates with his heart influences his experience and reality.

The research behind the evolution of HeartMath came from the idea that the body’s emotional response to events do not always occur from “top-down” processing (i.e., the brain sends signals to the heart and other organs, and the body responds accordingly). Rather, it has now proven that often times our emotional state triggers our heart to send out its own signals to the brain and other organs, and the body then responds accordingly. For instance, while two-way communication between the cognitive and emotional systems is hard-wired into the brain, the actual number of neural connections going from the emotional centres to the cognitive centres is greater than the number going the other way. Have you ever: Made a “rash” decision? Done something dangerous on impulse? Taken a risk because you believed in it? This research helps explain the influence emotions have on our ability to think and act.

In fact, researchers at HeartMath have determined that the physiology and nerve centres of the heart are so complex and active, that they constitute a “brain” all on their own, termed a “mini-brain.” We now know that the heart contains cells that produce and release norepinephrine and dopamine, neurotransmitters once thought to be produced only by the brain and ganglia outside the heart. Even more remarkable is the discovery that the heart produces oxytocin – the “love hormone – in concentrations that are as high as those in the brain.

7 Simple actions to create positive feelings:
  1. Think about the colleagues who helped you today. Thank them in your heart. Think about your current assignments. Know that they will work out well and work from this space
  2. What is it that you would like to have professionally? A new project? With whom? Think about it in detail, be specific and imagine you are already working on it
  3. Entertain the feeling of celebration that arises in your heart. From this space take the appropriate actions to make it happen
  4. Find ways to help your colleagues, or make them feel that you care. Do one (in)visible act of kindness per day or more if you want to
  5. Before starting your work day give thanks and envision it the way you want it to be
  6. When finishing your work day give thanks and clear it of negative emotions (which come out of fear that we know now is illusion). Do not take them at home or preserve for the next day
  7. Smile

The time of crisis is literally here: there is the fast pace of our world, the assault of too much to do with too little time and resources. Being in the present moment is just a concept for most of us and has little translation to daily life practice. Fear is wide spread and is polluting us on a very cellular level: hypertension, autoimmune diseases, cancer, infertility, chronic back problems, anxiety, and depression; the list could continue forever. The difference is how we interpret crisis because we can be at complete peace in the midst of chaos.

Can we live the life we want? Can we be authentic in our speech? Can we identify and release our underlying limiting beliefs so that we begin a new commitment towards genuine compassion, abundance, love and connection. Your commitment will show in your body and intentions.

Some Further Reading, If You’re Curious…
Article Sources

This article originally appeared on preventdisease.com, reproduced with permission.

Recommended Articles by Michael Forrester
About the Author

Michael Forrester is a spiritual counsellor and is a practising motivational speaker for corporations in Japan, Canada and the United States.

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