Although physical exercise is the most widely known method to increase the production of endorphins, there are several foods and other activities that can also boost endorphins levels naturally and safely.
What are Endorphins?
Endorphins are brain chemicals that naturally prevent pain and the negative effects caused by stress. They also help to ensure that your immune system is running smoothly.
Endorphins are commonly renowned for the role they play in “runner’s high”- a state of increased pain tolerance, euphoria, and bliss they trigger following an extreme physical workout.
When your endorphin levels fall, you may experience stress, anxiety, and depression. Apart from physical exercise, other ways to boost your endorphin levels include:
Engaging in laughter
Basking in the sun
Enjoying a favorite meal
Boosting Endorphins with food
There are certain foods that contain endorphins or encourage their production in your body. These include:
Chocolate is loaded with several compounds, such as phenylethylamine, that increases endorphin levels. A study found that chocolate “beat kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz.”
Hot peppers are deemed hot because they contain a compound known as capsaicin. Consumption of hot peppers makes your brain to perceive the heat they cause as pain. As a result, your body produces more endorphins to fight the fire. Their endorphin-stimulating quality makes capsaicin ideal for dealing with pain in patients with severe itching, arthritis, and neuropathy.
Consumption of alcohol triggers the production of endorphins in particular areas of the brain associated with pleasant feelings. Drinking in moderation is highly recommendable because heavy drinking can negate the effects.
Consume Enjoyable Foods
Although the consumption of spicy foods and chocolate triggers a flood of endorphins, it is evident that an enjoyable meal stimulates the production of some endorphins.
If you are low in either endorphins or mood-enhancing brain chemical serotonin, you may crave for foods that are rich in fats or carbohydrates. Such foods can increase your endorphin output.
Lifestyle Changes to Boost Endorphin Production
Other than food, some lifestyle choices can boost endorphins, and some are easier than strenuous physical workouts. These include:
The average child laughs about 300 times in a day. Unfortunately, the number plummets to about 17 times per day by the time we reach adulthood. Laughter boosts endorphin levels which help to reduce pain, increase happiness, and boost the immune system. Even if you are not in the mood to laugh, try and fake it. Settling down to watch funny clips or movies can also increase your endorphin levels.
Exercise with others
You don’t have to exercise all the time to boost your endorphin levels. However, instead of sitting and mind-numbing all day, try some exercise with others. They will encourage you to show up frequently.
Studies have shown that being helpful to others activates certain regions of the brain associated with social connection, pleasure, and trust. A boost of endorphins caused by being generous has been coined as “helper’s high.” Volunteering, assisting your friends or family, and giving to your favorite charity are some good examples.
Fall in love
Falling in love stimulates the production of phenylethylamine, the endorphin-boosting compound found in chocolate. Since it’s difficult to fall in love all the time, sex can also do wonders. Making love triggers a burst of endorphins you reach an orgasm.
Enjoy a dance
Dancing or listening to music that makes you feel joyful boosts the production of endorphins. Better than listening, you can grab a microphone, an instrument, or sing along your favorite tune.
Bask in the sun
Sun exposure is essential in the formation of vitamin D. However, it should be done in moderation to prevent your skin against the harmful ultra-violet rays of the sun.
Create time to play
Playing with a child or pet can help to lower stress, exercise your brain, enhance creativity, strengthen family bonds, and even make you feel younger.
One of the best things you can do for your health and happiness is to meditate. Meditating regularly reduces the stress hormone cortisol, while enhancing the production of endorphins. This combination lowers chronic inflammation, which is a common underlying cause of many illnesses and mental disorders, such as depression.
Other ways to naturally and safely boost endorphin levels include:
Edited by: Jessa (Jan. 27, 2019)