Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Happiness Diet: Part 2

The Happiness Diet:
Part 2
According to an article on, staying away from processed foods can have a positive effect on more than just your physical well-being

By Tyler Graham and Drew Ramsey, M.D.

The red flesh of watermelon is bursting with the powerful antioxidant lycopene, much more so actually than the tomato. Lycopene protects our skin from the intense summer sun and kills cancer cells. Studies show you can boost the levels of this important nutrient by up to 40 percent (and beta-carotene by 150 percent) by letting it sit outside the refrigerator at room temperature for several days.

Chili Peppers
Neuroscientists recently found that the brain is loaded with receptors for capsaicin, which is currently being investigated for its ability to regulate inflammation by influencing the expression of DNA. We also know that our brains respond to the heat of capsaicin by releasing endorphins, natural compounds that are related to morphine and have a calming effect. Capsaicin destroys carcinogens in our food like dimethyl nitrosamine, a preservative in cured meats, and vinyl carbamate, a cancer-causing agent in many pesticides. And capsaicin has been shown to protect the brain during liver failure. (13 Spices That Help You Lose Weight)

When we eat spicy foods, we release the same endorphins as when we exercise. Just like runners report a post-workout high, chile-eaters talk about a soothing, euphoric response to eating extremely spicy food.

Garlic is the star of a family of vegetables known as alliums that include onions, garlic, and leeks. Alliums promote healthy arteries and ensure proper blood flow to the brain. These savory vegetables relax your blood vessels, decreasing your blood pressure, which prevents small strokes in the brain, a major cause of depression and dementia later in life.

Alliums are a top source of a key trace mineral for happiness known as chromium. It's needed for a proper response to the hormone insulin, which helps ensure you're not storing too much sugar as fat. But more than that, it influences the uptake of tryptophan, the precursor to the important neurotransmitter serotonin. It also enhances the release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Chromium supplementation is effective in treating some depressed patients who struggle with low energy and carbohydrate craving. The more sugar in your diet, the more chromium your kidneys excrete, making it harder for insulin to function. Alliums lower blood sugar, and while we don't know exactly why, it may have to do with their high chromium content. Not only that, but the new science shows that allicin in garlic breaks up arterial plaques, essentially reversing heart disease. Garlic also thins blood, further protecting us from heart attack and stroke.

However you slice it, by adding garlic, onions, scallions, or any of the alliums to your daily diet, you'll be protecting your brain, lowering your risk of heart disease, and protecting yourself from the most common forms of cancer (especially of the mouth, throat, colon, and breast).


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