Endorphins are the natural hormones that block pain and create a sense of pleasure. They are produced in the pituitary glands and hypothalamus and are released in response to your sensory stimuli. Many factors can trigger its release like trauma, exercise, starvation or other forms of stress. But if you have ever had a sigh of satisfaction after a mouthful of chocolate cake, or have had an intense craving for ice cream after having an argument, it would be easy to see that emotions and foods effect each other.
Desserts Trigger Endorphins Release
Studies have shown that there are three dietary triggers that directly lead to the release of endorphins, fats, sugars and phenylethylamine. Desserts are perhaps the highest contributor of fat and sugar in a meal, and phenylethylamine is found in chocolate, another common ingredient used for desserts. A typical chocolate cake contains around 20g of fat and 30g of sugar per serving and with the additional effect of phenylethylamine, taking a big mouthful of this dessert will send an instant message to your brain for the release of endorphins, giving you that moment of euphoria.
High Fat Diet Increases the Demand for Endorphins
Binging on fats and sugars can do more damage to your body than just make you obese. A steady, high intake of fats and sugars will actually cause a physiological change in your nerve receptors, making them less receptive to endorphins. The result of this is similar to a withdrawal syndrome from addictive drugs. It gives you the false message of needing more endorphins released into your system, so that overtime, your body will require additional endorphins to keep you from feeling pained or depressed.
Euphoria without Dessert Binge
Though desserts can definitely give you an instant gratification, you cannot continue eating chocolate cakes to keep your endorphins high. Fortunately, there are many healthier ways to help you feeling good.
- Exercise: Regular regimens of exercises is the most effective way to increase endorphins release. Long periods of strenuous exercises can profoundly trigger an over production and release of endorphins into your system, keeping you from feeling muscles pains and giving you the sense of exhilaration during exercise. This “runner’s high” will continue to last for several hours after the exercise, enabling you to maintain your sense of invigoration.
- De-Stress: Meditate, listen to your favorite music, get a massage or simply take some deep breaths to help you relax. All of these can produce a calming effect on your senses and stimulate your brain into producing more endorphins.
- Healthy Diet: Carbohydrates and proteins are essential in serotonin production, which help regulate your appetite, sleep and muscle contractions as well as your mood. Good fats, like omega-3 fatty acid from fish and nuts, are great alternatives for those saturated fats found in desserts. Not only can they provide your body with what it needs to produce endorphins, they also help you maintain proper cardiovascular function. Fruits and veggies provide lots of vitamins for your hormones synthesis and regulation.
Desserts can trigger your endorphin high, but they do more damage than good. A routine of healthy eating and exercise, with extra time to relax, is the answer to a happier life.