10 Foods That Are Better Than Therapy

10 Foods That Are Better Than Therapy
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10 Foods That Are Better Than Therapy

Read on to discover 10 endorphin-boosting foods that will make you feel great.

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Who can ever resist chocolate? It’s just one of those treats we can never really get enough of, but Deborah Enos says that “consuming chocolate will help your body to release endorphins. This is one of the reasons that people associate chocolate as a comfort food.” Laura Cipullo says that the sweet indulgence “also contains caffeine which gives us a boost of energy and likely affects our mood.” But, she adds “remember too much chocolate or too much of any food can also make us feel “hung over” or lethargic.”

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Spicy food

Believe it or not, that spicy taste of your salsa, wasabi, or other spicy foods, is not a taste but actually a feeling of pain. Great, so that sriracha is actually causing us pain? But that pain is offset by our body’s natural reaction, which is to release endorphins, the messengers of well-being. Maybe it’s those good feelings that attract so many people to the fire brought on by spicy foods.

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Though high in calories, nuts are not only a source of good old unsaturated fat, they are rich in proteins, B vitamins, and selenium. Protein helps to keep us full, but it is that selenium that has positive mood-influencing properties. Brazil nuts apparently have the most selenium, so of all the nuts they might be the happiest.

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A bowl of pasta can really do the body good. Laura Cipullo considers it one of those endorphin-inducing foods that we love to love.

“Pasta is a well-known carbohydrate,” she says. “Carbohydrates are often thought of as comfort foods because they make us feel good. Carbs actually help to increase the availability of the neurotransmitter known as serotonin. Having low levels of serotonin are associated with depression.”

So why not have another helping of that baked ziti?

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Already wrapped and ready to go, bananas are perhaps one of nature’s most perfect snacks. They are rich in potassium, which is an essential mineral for nerve function. Their natural sugars release quickly into the bloodstream, increasing energy, while their starchy carbs sustain that great mood.

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It’s impossible to eat just one grape, but when they are full of endorphin-producing vitamin C, there’s no reason to stop there. That vitamin C and the fruit’s natural sugars give you energy make grapes an addictive, feel-good snack. On top of that, the darker skin varieties are full of antioxidants.

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Ice Cream

More than just a yummy frozen treat, ice cream might the most delicious endorphin-inducing food there is. As Laura Cipullo points out, “Ice cream is high in sugar and fat. It is deliciously palatable. High carb/high fat dishes can signal our brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which aids in our ability to experience pleasure.” The science to why ice cream makes us feel so great it’s just the cherry on top.

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These sweet fruits taste good but strawberries also are jammed packed with vitamin C, which helps in the production of endorphins. Like bananas, strawberries’ potassium aids in the generation of nerve impulses, while the red color caused by a flavonoid can lift our mood. Flavonoids are also powerful antioxidants, assisting in the removal of harmful toxins from the body. So packing a few more juicy strawberries for your next picnic might not be a bad idea.

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Meats and Soy

Digging into meat or soy products, foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan can also elevate your mood. That’s right, that delectable steak or tasty edamame can contribute to the production of serotonin in the brain. Eating meats and soy will most definitely make you feel good while filling your belly.

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Fish can be dressed up or dressed down, but it can also turn that frown upside down. Eating fish can actually help you feel better as Laura Cipullo explains, “Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with increased mood for those who are already feeling depressed. She recommends that we go fishing and get the local catch of the day!

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We all know that food can make us feel all the feelings, good and bad, happy and sad. Sometimes indulging in a sumptuous meal will make us feel satisfied, comfortable, and warm, but other times food produces feelings, guilt, and unease in the stomach. So imagine if we could eat things that are delicious and make us feel good at the same time!

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Little do we know that some foods produce endorphins, which Laura Cipullo, registered dietitian of Mom Dishes It Out calls "the feel good hormones." Deborah Enos, motivational speaker, certified nutritionist, and One-Minute Wellness coach, explains that these endorphins "are similar to morphine — they help to relieve pain and put you in a lovely mood."

Endorphins are produced in the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, and other parts of the body at various times, like during sex, exercise, food consumption, or moments of pain and excitement. They are a response to certain stimuli, generally stress, fear, or pain, but they mainly interact with receptors in the region of the brain most responsible for blocking pain and controlling emotions. Our bodies release at least 20 different kinds of endorphins, ranging from the most potent beta-endorphin, which gives off that sugar- high feeling and can dampen pain, to dopamine, which boosts mood, to serotonin, which contributes to emotional well-being.

Eating chocolate or ice cream almost always lifts our moods and brings us happiness, and there's a reason for that — these two tasty treats in fact help our bodies to create those "feel good hormones." Some spicy food, like chili peppers, can set our palates on fire and make our noses run, but also make us feel great because they generate endorphins. There are many more endorphin-inducing foods, so you can definitely feel good about chowing down on some of these.

Check out the slideshow above for 10 foods that are better than therapy.

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