Have you ever heard the expression Happy As A Clam? Have you ever wondered why clams were happy? It has to do with the vitamins and minerals found in them! Here are some foods that contain those certain nutrients that are known for altering our brain chemistry and releases what are known as happy chemicals. There are four chemicals or officially known as neurotransmitters that work together to create the sensation that we know as happiness. They are called Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins. Each has a unique function in our overall feeling of happiness.
There’s a reason why clambakes are such festive occasions! Clams contain a lot of Vitamin B12. Why is that important? Vitamin B12 is one of many substances that is used in the formation of dopamine and serotonin. For those who don’t like eating full clams, even canned clams or chopped clams found in New England Chowder can give you a little boost of Vitamin B12. And if you don’t like clams, you can get your Vitamin B12 from other fish, dairy products or fortified cereal.
Walnuts, tree nuts and other seeds contain a lot of alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. There have been studies that show when people have low levels of ALA that the production of serotonin and dopamine decreases, meaning you don’t make enough of your happy chemicals. Low levels of ALA also cause inflammation throughout the body and has been linked to depression. Grabbing a few handful of nuts a day can ensure that your body is producing the right amount of chemicals a day!
After a big Thanksgiving meal, we complain that the Tryptophan (the amino acid found in poultry) is causing us to fall asleep. But, research has shown that Tryptophan levels have a direct correlation between serotonin levels. As one level decreases the other decreases and vice versa. If you’re not a huge fan of turkey, you can get Tryptophan is several other foods including eggs, salmon, and tofu.
Bring out the avocados and make that guacamole because it’s time for a fiesta! Avocados contain an amino acid called Tyrosine. Tyrosine stimulates the brain to release dopamine and norepinephrine (an endorphin) making you feel more alert and increases cognitive thinking. Other ways to get Tyrosine include yogurt, bananas, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
The next time you are planning a family dinner or a dinner party, knowing which foods trigger happy chemicals is a medical and somewhat sneaky way to ensure that your friends and relatives are having a good time!