Hormones are chemical messengers that are secreted directly into the blood, which carries them to organs and tissues of the body to exert their functions. There are many types of hormones that act on different aspects of bodily functions and processes. Some of these include:
- Development and growth
- Metabolism of food items
- Sexual function and reproductive growth and health
- Cognitive function and mood
- Maintenance of body temperature and thirst
Where are they secreted from?
Hormones are secreted from the endocrine glands in the body. The glands are ductless, so hormones are secreted directly into the blood stream rather than by way of ducts. Some of the major endocrine glands in the body include:
- Pituitary gland
- Pineal gland
- Adrenal glands
These organs secrete hormone in microscopic amounts and it takes only very small amounts to bring about major changes in the body.
Even a very slight excess of hormone secretion can lead to disease states, as can the slightest deficiency in a hormone.
Certain hormones are known to help promote positive feelings, including happiness and pleasure.
- Dopamine. Also known as the “feel-good” hormone, dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that’s an important part of your brain’s reward system. Dopamine is associated with pleasurable sensations, along with learning, memory, motor system function, and more.
- Serotonin. This hormone (and neurotransmitter) helps regulate your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.
- Oxytocin. Often called the “love hormone,” oxytocin is essential for childbirth, breastfeeding, and strong parent-child bonding. This hormone can also help promote trust, empathy, and bonding in relationships, and oxytocin levels generally increase with physical affection like kissing, cuddling, and sex.
- Endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain reliever, which your body produces in response to stress or discomfort. Endorphin levels also tend to increase when you engage in reward-producing activities, such as eating, working out, or having sex.
Certain foods can also have an impact on hormone levels, so note the following when meal planning for a happy hormone boost:
- spicy foods, which may trigger endorphin release
- yogurt, beans, eggs, meats with low-fat content, and almonds, which are just a few foods linked to dopamine release
- foods high in tryptophan, which have been linked to increased serotonin levels
foods containing probiotics, such as yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut, which can influence the release of hormones. (Source)
There are several supplements that may help increase your ‘happy hormone’ levels.
Here are just a few to consider: tyrosine (linked to dopamine production), green tea and green tea extract (dopamine and serotonin), probiotics (may boost serotonin and dopamine production), tryptophan (serotonin)
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