OUR EMOTIONS AND HEALTH WHAT MAKES US HAPPY? By: Dr Madhumita Sen
MIND/BODY CONNECTIONHow Our Emotions Affect our HealthPeople who have good emotional health are aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviours.They have learned healthy ways to cope with the stress and problems that are a normal part of life.They feel good about themselves and have healthy relationships.
However, many things that happen in our life can disrupt our emotional health and lead to sadness, stress or anxiety. These include:• Being laid off from a job• Having a child leave or return home• Dealing with the death of a loved one• Getting divorced or married• Suffering an illness or an injury• Getting a job promotion• Experiencing money problems• Moving to a new home• Having a baby “Good” changes can be just as stressful as “bad” changes.
HOW CAN MY EMOTIONS AFFECT MY HEALTH?Your body responds to the Back painway you think, feel and act. Change in appetiteThis is often called the Chest pain“mind/body connection.” Constipation or diarrheaWhen you are stressed, Dry mouthanxious or upset, your bodytries to tell you that Extreme tirednesssomething isn’t right. General aches and pains Headaches High blood pressure
MORE….Insomnia (trouble sleeping)Light-headedness Poor emotional healthPalpitations (the feeling that can weaken youryour heart is racing) bodys immune system, making youSexual problems more likely to get coldsShortness of breath and other infectionsStiff neck during emotionallySweating difficult times.Upset stomachWeight gain or loss
ALSO …• When you are feeling stressed, anxious or upset, you may not take care of your health as well as you should.• You may not feel like exercising, eating nutritious foods or taking medicine that your doctor prescribes.• Abuse of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs may also be a sign of poor emotional health.
HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY EMOTIONAL HEALTH?First, try to recognize your emotions and understand why you are having them.Keep in mind that your family and friends may not be able to help you deal with your feelings always.At these times, ask someone outside the situation--such as your family doctor, a counsellor or a religious advisor--for advice and support to help you improve your emotional health.Being socially active improves emotional health. Loners have more heart attacks than married couples, NOTE: Sunshine is a powerful mood elevator!
QUALITY OF LIFE INDICESThe Gallup World Poll studied the findings of a survey, with adults in more than 140 countries providing a representative sample of 95% of the worlds population.The sample included more than 150,000 adults. (March 2009).The association between emotion and physical health was more powerful than the connection between health and basic human physical requirements, like adequate nourishment.Even without shelter or food, positive emotions were shown to boost health!
The survey used nine quality of life factors1. Healthiness : Life expectancy at birth (in years).2. Family life: Divorce rate (per 1,000 population), converted into index of 1 (lowest divorce rates) to 5 (highest).3. Community life: Variable taking value 1 if country has either high rate of church attendance or trade-union membership; zero otherwise.4. Material well being: GDP per person, at PPP in $.5. Political stability and security: Political stability and security ratings.6. Climate and geography : Latitude, to distinguish between warmer and colder climates.7. Job security: Unemployment rate (%.)8. Political freedom: Average of indexes of political and civil liberties. Scale of 1 (completely free) to 7 (unfree).
WHERE DO WE STAND? Quality of Life ScoreRank Country or territory (out of 10) 32 Mexico 6.766 1 Ireland 8.333 33 Barbados 6.702 2 Switzerland 8.068 34 Czech Republic 6.629 3 Norway 8.051 4 Luxembourg 8.015 35 Costa Rica 6.624 5 Sweden 7.937 36 Malaysia 6.608 6 Australia 7.925
Emotion and the nervoussystem,immunity, and health
BIOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF EMOTION Sympathetic nervous system activation is the most obvious component of an emotional response. This system prepares the body for “fight or flight”. Different emotions are the result of different patterns of arousal. After arousal, the parasympathetic nervous system reduces activity and conserves and restores energy.
HOW WE LOOKPosing facial expressions also affects how we interpret the environment.÷ A stimulus is more painful when making a sad face.÷ Cartoons are rated as more amusing during induced smiling.÷ Women who have had facial muscles paralyzed with botox and are unable to frown, report less negative mood.
HOW OTHERS LOOKFeedback from facial emotions may help us understand others’ emotions.÷ Mirror neurons are neurons that respond both when we engage in a specific act and while observing the same act in others.÷ This may be why observing emotions in others activates our own brain’s emotional areas.
THE EMOTIONAL BRAINThe Limbic System: This network, arranged around the upper brain stem carries out several functions in emotion.The hypothalamus has primary control over the autonomic nervous system. Septal stimulation produces a sense of pleasure, accompanied by sexual fantasies and arousal.The amygdala plays a role in fear.Disgust has been located in the basal ganglia.
The anterior cingulate cortex is believed to bring about conscious emotional experience.Prefrontal cortex : is the final destination for much of the brain’s information about emotion before action is taken.The prefrontal cortex is necessary for making judgments about behaviour and its
HORMONES Stress is a demanding condition in the environment and it is the individuals’ internal response to that situation. The stress response includes activation of the sympathetic nervous system.- The resulting increases in heart rate, blood flow, and respiration rate help the person deal with the situation. Stress also activates the hypothalamic- pituitary-adrenal axis, a group of structures that help the body cope with stress.
ACUTE AND CHRONIC STRESSThe hypothalamus activates the pituitary gland, which stimulates the adrenal glands to release:1. epinephrine and norepinephrine , which increase output from the heart and liberate glucose from the muscles for energy; (acute stress),2. cortisol, which provides a sustained release of energy for coping with prolonged stress. Chronic or prolonged stress reduces immunity.
Happy hormones: ENDORPHINS ("ENDOGENOUS MORPHINE")They are produced by the Brain during• exercise, excitement,• consumption of certain foods,• love and orgasm,and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce a feeling of well-being.
MORE “HAPPY HORMONES”Your two main happy hormones are:• Serotonin, which is produced during the day and• Melatonin, which is produced at night.If you are happy during the day and sleep soundly at night, then your happy hormones are working fine.However if your not happy and not sleeping you have some work to do to get them working, because your hormones are imbalanced.
SEROTONINSerotonin is found in the central nervous system.It has multiple tasks of regulating moods, appetite, sleep, anxiety, depression and more.The lack of Serotonin causes many bad symptoms to appear such as depression, insomnia and irritability.In order to get your moods back into balance it is required for Serotonin to get back into balance.Serotonin and Oxytocin increase T cell activity and improve immunity.
MELATONINMelatonin has multiple purposes, being associated primarily with:1. Synchronization of the biological clock and2. As an antioxidant.Melatonin is produced from Serotonin during low light conditions and is produced naturally when darkness falls.• Melatonin acts as an antioxidant.• It increases lifespan by 20%• It increases Killer T cells of the immune system.
ENDOCANNABINOIDSOur brain has natural cannaboid or THC receptors, which are responsible for “reward pathways” in the brain.These are the centers which are activated when we perform altruistic activities.The most powerful endocannabinoid is “Anandamide,” a lipid.This hormone is increased in happiness, after a good meal, when we feel satisfied with a task, after exercise and a good night’s sleep.Apart from improving mood, it also improves immunity, reduces stress hormones and
IMMUNITYBrief stress :Increases activity in the immune system.The cells and cell products of the immune system:÷ kill infected and malignant cells;÷ protect the body against foreign substances, including bacteria and viruses.
Chronic stress:• Interferes with memory, appetite, and sexual desire and performance;• Depletes energy and causes mood disruptions; compromises the immune system.• Stress can also lead to brain damage or long-term brain changes.• Incidence of heart attacks and strokes can increase more than 5 times.• Stress effects vary with social and personality variables. Death rate is lower among people with social support.
YOU FEEL FULL -- AND HAPPY .Doesnt it seem a bit odd that food should make us happy?The science of happiness has figured out why certain foods make us happy.It turns out that some foods are made of compounds that have been shown to have an effect on our mood.Even more interesting, going without certain foods can have an opposite effect, putting us at a higher risk for depression.
HAPPY HORMONES ARE INTERCONNECTEDSerotonin and Melatonin are made from an amino acid Tryptophan (rich sources are turkey and milk).Good nutrition is an important component of an improved mood and an increased sense of well being.
WHICH FOODS ARE BEST FOR THE BRAIN?Diet is inextricably linked to conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.However, what we consume also seems to have significant implications for the brain:Unhealthy diets may increase risk for psychiatric and neurologic conditions, such as depression and dementia, whereas healthy diets may be protective.
HOW NUTRIENTS HELP YOUR BRAINHow we feel can be a result of what we eat, but what we eat can also be due to how we are feeling.Food and the chemicals in our brains interact to keep us going throughout the day.
SOME “HAPPY FOODS”Carbohydrates increase serotonin. Perhaps that’s why people often crave carbohydrate-rich foods when they are under stress.Protein-rich foods increase tyrosine, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which help to increase alertness.Omega-3 fatty acids become part of the membranes of brain cells and control many brain processes.
FISH OIL TO FEND OFF PSYCHOSIS?Thanks to their high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely omega-3 fatty acids, fish can help fend off numerous diseases of the brain.A 2010 study correlated fish consumption with a lower risk for psychotic symptoms.New research shows that the omega-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are beneficial in depression and postpartum depression, respectively.Other research suggests that omega-3 deficiency may be a risk factor for suicide..
The Omega 3 fatty acid, docosa-hexaenoic- acid (DHA) is the most abundant fat found in the brain.Oily, cold-water fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel, have the highest omega-3 levelsTwo major sources of DHA are fish and shellfish.DHA, reduces oxidative stress andenhances synaptic plasticity,learning and memory.
SEROTONIN CREATING FOODSTypically, serotonin is the neurotransmitter most linked to happiness, since you need it to regulate sleep and pain.Its also counteracts excitatory neurotransmitters.Foods that aid serotonin production include spinach, turkey, milk and bananas.
Spinach contains high concentrations of folate, a B-vitamin used in the serotonin creation process.Bananas and turkey pack lots of tryptophan, an amino acid thats converted into serotonin in the brain.Carbohydrates increase serotonin production.
Another major neurotransmitter that helps regulate and stabilize mood is gamma -amino-butyric acid (GABA), commonly referred to as "natures Valium.“Foods dont contain GABA, but some contain the neurotransmitters building block, an amino acid called l-glutamine.Pork, beef and sesame and sunflower seeds all have high concentrations of glutamine
FOLIC ACIDFolic acid makes Red Blood Cells and so improves oxygen supply.It also improves brain cell function.Folic acid is found in various foods, including spinach, orange juice and yeast.
SPICESThe curry spice Turmeric, has been shown to reduce memory deficits of Alzheimer’s disease and brain trauma.Turmeric makes cholesterol levels low and inhibits LDL (bad cholesterol).Onions and Garlic in our food also reduce bad cholesterols and improve brain function, apart from improving the taste of our food!
FAT: THE GOOD AND THE BADGOOD: A study conducted in Spain reported that consumption of both polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in nuts, seeds, fish, and leafy green vegetables) and monounsaturated fatty acids (found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts) decreases the risk for depression over time.A deficiency in polyunsaturated fatty acids has been linked to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children.
BAD: However, there were clear dose-response relationships between dietary intake of trans fats and depression risk, whereas other data support an association between trans fats and ischemic stroke risk.Trans fats are found extensively in processed foods, including many commercial chocolates (hence, check that label when considering the chocolates ).
COFFEE FOR DEPRESSION AND STROKEThe worlds most widely used stimulant might do more than just wake us up!A 2011 meta-analysis found that consumption of 1-6 cups of coffee a day cut stroke risk by 17%.Although it may increase blood pressure, coffee beans contain antioxidant compounds, and coffee consumption has also been associated with increased insulin sensitivity and reduced concentrations of inflammatory markers.
MORE FUN FOODS!A 2009 study published in Archives of General Psychiatry found that people who follow Mediterranean dietary patterns -- that is, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and olive oils) -- are up to 30% less likely to develop depression than those who typically consume meatier, dairy-heavy fare.The olive oil-inclined also are less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease, particularly when they engage in higher levels of physical activity.
COMFORT FOODSWe all have memories of happier times and special occasions, and by eating foods that remind us of those times, we symbolically consume that past happiness.Men look upon comfort food as a reward, but women feel guilty after eating comfort foods!
HOW TIMING CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCEWhile what we eat can have a significant impact on how we feel, when we eat is equally important.Eating patterns that involve:a) Skipping meals may contribute to mood swings by causing fluctuations in blood sugar levelsb) Food restriction can lead to binge eating, excessive emotional responses, poor concentration, increased stress, and an overall lower sense of well-being.
LOVE YOUR FOOD!Research finding demonstrates that the release of beta- endorphin, a natural pleasure/comfort chemical in the brain, occurs whenever we eat our favorite foods.Studies have also found that people who experience a chronic state of depression or other emotional upset often eat larger amounts of the foods we identify as favorites.
SOMETHING TOMAKE YOU HAPPY!It is the bestmedical news inages!Studies say darkchocolate -- but notwhite chocolate, isgood for you. . Chocolate wont damage your joints, but being overweight might. So 60gms a day is the limit!!
ANTIOXIDANTSWhat is it about dark chocolate? The answer is plant phenols -- cocoa phenols, to be exact.The natural chemicals found in chocolate include xanthine, theobromine and phenylethylamine.Xanthine, is similar to caffeine.Theobromine can stimulate your central nervous system and relax your blood vessels.Phenylethylamine (PEA) is similar to amphetamine, an antidepressant.
Chocolates have epicatechin, a brown colour that is found in cocoa beans.This functions as a powerful antioxidant in the body. It reduces cholesterol levels and improves HDL action.Chocolate -- the darker the better -- seems to help scavenge free radicals and improve endothelial and platelet function.Chocolate polyphenols also stimulate the production of endorphins in the brain, giving us that immediate rush of pleasure!
ALCOHOL: ALWAYS IN MODERATIONThe Greeks touted "nothing in excess," a refrain that still rings true.Low to moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with numerous potential physiologic benefits, including• improved cholesterol profiles,• beneficial effects on platelet and clotting function• improved insulin sensitivity.• according to a recent meta-analysis, limited alcohol use is associated with a lower risk for overall and Alzheimer dementia. • Moderate alcohol intake may also protect against cerebrovascular disease, with wine potentially having added benefit because of its polyphenolic antioxidant
BE CAREFUL!However, the health costs of alcohol consumption beyond low to moderate intake can quickly outweigh benefits to the brain.Heavy and long-term alcohol use can lead to• alcohol abuse and dependence,• impair memory function,• contribute to neurodegenerative disease, and• hinder psychosocial functioning.• The US Food and Drug Administration defines "moderate alcohol consumption" as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.One drink is equivalent to 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of 12% alcohol wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of
WHAT NOT TO EAT?Saturated fats and refined carbohydrates have highly detrimental effects on the immune system, oxidative stress, and “happy hormones,” all factors that are known to play a role in depression. A study by Akbaraly and colleagues (German Primary Care, 2011) showed that a diet rich in high-fat dairy foods and fried, refined, and sugary foods significantly increases risk for depression.Similar findings were seen in another study from Spain, showing that intake of such foods as pizza and hamburgers increased the risk for depression over time.In another study, women with a diet higher in processed foods were more likely to have clinical major depression.
TAKE CARE OF THE CHILDRENResearch published last year also showed for the first time that quality of adolescents diets was linked to mental health:• Healthier diets were associated with reduced mental health symptoms and unhealthy diets with increased mental health symptoms over time.• Excess salt intake has been long known to increase blood pressure and stroke risk,• However, recent data also correlate high salt intake, as well as diets high in saturated fats, with impaired cognition and intelligence.
SO MAKE THE GOOD FOODS YOUR HAPPY FOODS!Whether its psychological or physiological, its clear that foods have a powerful effect on our mood.Eating nutrient-packed foods affect brain chemistry positively, but the occasional indulgence also makes us just as happy.Perhaps a healthy balance of nutritious foods and comfort foods can help maintain the balance in a persons mood best of all.
THE MESSAGEHappiness is contagious!How you react to the world around you influences your health.Next time you eat, pay attention to how you feel afterwards.Remember to eat a variety of foods, both healthy and happy.