An Edible Epiphanies community member recently told me how great he felt after a workout. The feeling of happiness, relief of stress and boost of energy was enough to send him into a euphoric state. I was quick to share this same enthusiasm, as I am a huge fitness fanatic, but I was also eager to get down to the science of WHY exercise makes you feel this way. The simple, one-word answer to this phenomenon: ENDORPHINS.
When you exercise, your brain releases these feel-good chemicals, leading to reduced pain, feeling of euphoria, enhanced immunity, and several other powerful health benefits.
But the good news is you don’t have to endure hours of sweat-inducing exercise to experience all the advantages endorphins provide! You can enjoy the benefits of this natural high by consuming what I like to call “Edible Endorphins.”
According to Reader’s Digest, certain scents and foods provide a variety of different endorphin-producing effects, including:
Chocolate: Savor a square of chocolate to release endorphins like anandamide, which is a chemical that promotes relaxing effects.
Peppers: Feel like adding a little spice to your meal? You will after you learn that spicy foods such as chillis, which contain capsaicin, release endorphins and boost your spirit.
Protein: Not only is this food group one of the most important for a healthy body, but it also ranks high in providing benefits for a healthy mind and spirit, too! High-protein foods such as meat, fish and legumes naturally send out endorphins to raise dopamine levels, which help you feel more focused and alert.
Whether you feel like signing up for your city’s next 5k or sitting down to a protein-packed lunch, think about the effects your activities have on your mind, body and spirit, and make good choices to improve your health!