It is easy to lose track of your health when days get repetitive and begin to overlap with one another. After spending months in lockdown, and continuing to work from home, many people are feeling the blues. And while it is advisable to eat healthy and stay physically active, it is also important to be aware of how you are feeling mentally.
Dopamine is the hormone that is responsible for happiness. It is often referred to as the ‘happy hormone’. But scientifically, it is a neurotransmitter — a chemical that is responsible for transmitting signals between the nerve cells in the brain. As such, dopamine is responsible giving the mood a good boost, as it is the ‘feel-good factor’ in the brain.
It is said that there are many triggers for dopamine and most of it happens when you are exposed to something that gives you pleasure, food being one of it. Online fitness trainer and sports nutritionist Diksha Chhabra of Diksha Chhabra Fitness consultations, says that in most cases, foods which are rich in sugar and fat content, cause a surge in dopamine levels. “When you happen to make a shift from unhealthy food to healthier and filling recipes, you begin to feel happy, healthy and good about everything, because of a spike in dopamine,” she says.
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Chhabra suggest the following dietary and lifestyle changes to attain long-term health goals:
* Eating regular meals: This will prevent a sudden swing in hormones, and help to regulate your appetite. It also reduces the chance of overeating in the evening. With ample amount of food in all meals, you are likely to feel satisfied, mood-wise.
* Add lean meat, eggs and dairy in your everyday diet, because these can help in keeping you full for a longer time, and increase the levels of dopamine.
* Add complex carbs to your diet: Carbs that fall under low glycaemic index (GI) like oats, millets, porridge or multigrain breads, help in gradual release of sugar in the bloodstream. They keep you energetic throughout the day, in addition to increasing the dopamine levels.
* Choose healthy fats: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in olives, sunflowers, sesame oils, in addition to avocado, almonds, walnuts, and oily fish such as fresh tuna and trout, take time to break down in the body when taken in right proportions. “Fat in diet has a direct link with dopamine activity in the brain. Good fat sources help in better neural activity and cognition,” she explains.
“Have your meals up to four-five times a day, and avoid any intense dieting to achieve a balanced mindset,” Chhabra says in conclusion.
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