The Science of Happiness

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Enjoy Life More—Your Body Will Age Better, Study Shows

untitled (2)Enjoy Life More—Your Body Will Age Better, Study Shows

A new study from the U.K. claims that people who enjoy life will have better physical function and faster walking speeds than their more pessimistic counterparts. We already know there are health benefits associated with a positive outlook on life.  A study from 2013 suggested people who have happy marriages also enjoy better physical health than couples in stressful marriages. In 2012, a study by researchers at University College London (UCL) in the U.K. found seniors who enjoy life more tend to live longer. As part of a follow-up study testing the link between happiness and physical performance, the UCL researchers have assessed the enjoyment of life of 3,199 participants aged 60 years or older.

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The participants in the study were asked to rate on a four-point scale how much they subscribed to the following statements: “I enjoy the things that I do,” “I enjoy being in the company of others,” “On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness” and “I feel full of energy these days.” Interviewing the people in the study, the researchers then assessed to what extent they had difficulty performing daily activities, such as bathing or getting dressed.  They also measured the walking speed of the participants.

The study found that people who had a low sense of well-being were more than three times as likely to experience problems in performing daily activities. “Our results provide further evidence that enjoyment of life is relevant to the future disability and mobility of older people,” says Dr. Steptoe, co-author of the study. “Efforts to enhance well-being at older ages may have benefits to society and health care systems.” Although the study recorded—perhaps unsurprisingly—that people suffering from chronic illness and lower levels of enjoyment of life, Dr. Steptoe says the link between happiness and physical health is not simply that happier people are healthier: “This is not because the happier people are in better health, or younger, or richer, or have more healthy lifestyles at the outset, since even when we take these factors into account, the relationship persists. Our previous work has shown that older people with greater enjoyment of life are more likely to survive over the next 8 years; what this study shows is that they also keep up better physical function.”

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Dr. Steptoe’s previous study found that nearly three times more people in the study group of over 50s who had low enjoyment of life and died, compared with participants who enjoyed life more. That study considered social isolation in seniors—having few hobbies or social interactions—as being a factor in a loss of enjoyment in life. It found that 1 in 6 people aged 50 and over living in England were socially isolated. But there was also a socio-economic aspect—the wealthier seniors were half as likely to become socially isolated as the less wealthy people in the study.

In the new study, people with higher socio-economic status and education were also more likely to enjoy life. Married and working people also scored higher on the happiness scale than retired or single seniors. “The study shows that older people who are happier and enjoy life more show slower declines in physical function as they age,” Dr. Steptoe concludes.

“They are less likely to develop impairments in activities of daily living such as dressing or getting in or out of bed, and their walking speed declines at a slower rate than those who enjoy life less.”

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) from the March Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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55 Ways to Get More Energy

55 Ways to Get More Energy

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Greg Go, co-author of Wise Bread‘s new book, 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.  Buy the book today (by Monday 11:59pm PDT) and get a $15 Ebates bonus and a chance to win a brand new Flip Cam.

If you’re tired all the time, a change in what you eat (diet) or what you do all day (activity pattern) may be all you need to turn things around 180°.

You won’t be able to do everything on this list all the time — you’d tire yourself out trying to get more energy — but do try them all to see which ones work for you and your schedule. Add a few of these tips to your regular routine.  Or mix them up to keep things interesting.

1. Change your socks for refreshment.

It’s an amazing trick.  Bring a change of socks to work, and change your socks midway through the day (say, after lunch).  You’ll be amazed at how much fresher you’ll feel.   This trick is especially handy on days with lots of walking — like during a hike or family outing to the amusement park.

2. Rock out loud.

Whether you work alone or in a room with coworkers, a quick one-song rock out loud session is an effective way to beat back exhaustion.

In a cube farm? Get everyone to sing along! The key is to choose a song that everyone can sing along with. (I like Kokomo.) The energy boosting effect comes from bobbing your head and singing out loud. One song, 3 minutes.  That’s a quick boost of adrenaline that lasts for a bit.  You’ll be singing to yourself the rest of the never ending project delivery night.

3. Get rid of the stuffy nose.

If allergies have your sinuses blocked, you may be feeling more tired and cranky.  An over-the-counter allergy medication should clear up your sinuses (and your mind).

4. Work with your body’s clock.

There is a natural ebb and flow of energy throughout the day.   We start off sluggish after waking up, even after a solid 8 hours of sleep.  Our energy peaks mid-morning, and it’s natural to want a siesta in the afternoon. We get a second spike of energy in the early evening, followed by our lowest energy point just before bedtime.  Once you understand this natural rhythm of energy throughout the day, you can work on the important tasks during your peak hours and avoid early afternoon snoozefests (meetings).

5. Have a piece of chocolate.

Not too much, but if you’re going to have some candy, it might as well be chocolate.  We get an endorphin buzz from chocolate (not to mention the energy boost from the slight bit of caffeine chocolate contains).  Dark chocolate has more caffeine than milk chocolate.

An afternoon snack of yogurt, berries, and nuts will provide the boost of energy to carry you through the day.  Photo by lepiaf.geo / Flickr)An afternoon snack of yogurt, berries, and nuts will provide the boost of energy to carry you through the day. Photo by lepiaf.geo / Flickr

6. Have an afternoon power snack.

A small healthy snack that is low in sugar and has protein and/or fiber a couple hours after lunch helps you finish off the day strong.  Some suggestions:

  • mixed nuts
  • nonfat yogurt
  • apple and peanut butter
  • frozen berrie smoothie
  • trail mix
  • granola bar

7. Hit up the water cooler for inconsequential banter.

A little midday gossip and random banter is a great pick-me-up for your tired mind. It works because it gets your mind on zero-stress thoughts for a while.  The mental break for just a few minutes will revitalize you.

8. Eat lots of berries.

Especially berries that are blue, red, or purple.  The color comes from anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant, that boosts energy.  Any kind of berry will contain tons.

All types of berries help fight fatigue and are delicious to boot! Photo by Zabowski / FlickrAll types of berries help fight fatigue and are delicious to boot! Photo by Zabowski / Flickr

9. Wear brighter colors.

This trick is related to the mood you project to people, and the reciprocating mood they project towards you.  If you wear dark, somber colors, you project a dark, somber attitude, and people will respond to you with a somber attitude. If you wear bright, happy colors, you’ll get that attitude projected towards you, which will boost your own mood and energy levels.

10. Take a power nap.

But do it in your chair.  Don’t lie down on the sofa or you won’t get back up.  Keep it short: 5-10 minutes max.  Any longer and it will have the opposite effect of knocking you out for the rest of the day.

11. Flirt.

It’s fun, it’s harmless (keep it innocent), and it’s effective.  Nothing quite gets the heart pumping like a little flirting.

Amore gets the blood flowing.Amore gets the blood flowing. Flirt for more energy. Photo by Kjunstorm / Flickr

12. Aromatherapy with lavender.

Research has shown that the lavender scent increases alertness. Test subjects were given math tests before and after 3 minutes of lavender aromatherapy.  The group completed the tests faster and more accurately after aromatherapy.

13. Wake up at the same time everyday.

Including weekends.  This sets your body clock.  Otherwise, you’ll be wide awake when you should be asleep.  Or worse, asleep when you should be awake (dozing off in a meeting is embarrassing).  The key is to go to bed at the same time every night. If you need to reset your sleep cycle in one day, stop eating for the 16 hours before the time you want to wake up.

14. Drink lots of water.

Dehydration is a sinister cause of fatigue because it slowly creeps up on you.  If you consistently drink less than 8 cups of water a day, you may be sluggish all the time. Get a 32 oz (1 quart, 4 cups) water bottle. Your goal is to polish off 2 of those a day.  Try it for a week and see if your general energy level increases.

15. Use caffeine wisely.

Coffee and caffeinated sodas can boost your alertness, but be careful about letting it be a habitual crutch.  The temptation to drink more caffeine to get even more energy will be strong.  Eventually you’ll be downing 5 double-shot espressos a day just to function.  Drink coffee earlier in the day to avoid insomnia, which will make the next day worse.

Coffee in moderation. Caffeine can give you a quick boost of energy, but can also be a counterproductive crutch.Use caffeine in moderation. Coffee provides a shot of energy, but can also become a counterproductive dependence. Photo by visualpanic / Flickr

16. Avoid energy drinks.

Energy drinks provide a near-instant hyperactivity boost, but they always result in a crash.  Energy drinks are like energy credit cards — you’re spending future energy to get short-term energy. The resulting energy deficit gets worse until you hit energy bankruptcy.

17. Eat low glycemic (low or complex carb) foods.

Trade in good, complex carbohydrates (low glycemic index) for the bad, simple carbs (sugar). Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index means the sugar is more easily digested by your body.  That results in a spike in energy followed by a low-sugar crash.

High glycemic index foods to avoid include white bread, potato, and high sugar foods (like sodas).  Low glycemic foods (the good carb foods) include fruits and vegetables, grains (eg., whole wheat bread), low-carb foods (eg., meats), and pasta.  Check this chart of foods and their glycemic index before your next trip to the grocery store.

18. Eat more soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber is the kind that slows down the rate of absorption of sugars. It evens out your energy levels by preventing a sugar high and crash.  (By the way, insoluble fiber  is the kind that prevents constipation.)  Don’t worry too much about which kind of fiber you’re getting — they’re both good for you.  Rotate more high soluble fiber foods like nuts, grains, fruits, plant matter (vegetables), beans, and oats into your diet.

Eat and sniff more citrus fruits for an energy boost.  Photo by Steven Fernandez / FlickrEat and sniff more citrus fruits for an energy boost.  Photo by Steven Fernandez / Flickr

19. Get your Vitamin C.

Get a daily dose of citrus fruits (eg., orange juice in the morning) or a vitamin C tablet.  Study after study shows the correlation between citric acid deficiency and chronic fatigue. Vitamin C also helps you absorb more nutrients from food.

20. Sniff some citrus.

In addition to the Vitamin C, citrus scents (like orange, lemon and lime) stimulate alertness.  So lather on some of that lemon scented lotion.

21. Cover the B Vitamins.

B vitamins cover a range of bodily functions, but most B vitamins are involved in the process of converting blood sugar into usable energy.   To ensure you get the proper amount of B vitamins, eat a balanced diet.

22. Quit smoking.

Ex-smokers frequently report an energy boost of 2-3x when they quit smoking.  Nicotine affects your sleep, so you don’t get as good a night’s sleep. That makes you cranky, frustrated and tired the next day.  Which leads to more smoking.  It’s a vicious energy sapping cycle.

23. Play to relax.

Playing a game keeps your mind working (versus, say, watching TV), but doesn’t have any of the energy-sapping stresses of work.  Go ahead and play that quick game of Scrabble on Facebook, but have a strict time limit if you don’t want your boss to say something.

Play a quick game to relax while keeping your mind active. Youll destress but still be ready to take on the next task.Play a game to relax.  It keeps your mind active without the debilitating stress. Photo by Sukanto Debnath / Flickr

24. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.

Snack throughout the day. By eating smaller but more frequent “meals”, you will maintain a steady dose of energy instead of experiencing food comas.  Don’t snack on fatty and sugar laden junk food though.  You may get a short 30 minute burst of hyperalertness, but it’ll be quickly followed by a debilitating crash.

25. Enjoy a cup of tea.

In a recent study, University College London researchers noted that drinking a cup of tea 4-6 time a day reduces stress hormone levels in your body.  The study’s results suggest “drinking black tea may speed up our recovery from the daily stresses in life.”

26. Splash some water on your face.

Just letting the cool water hit your face washes off the grime and stresses of the day.  You could also jump in the pool or take a shower for the same effect.  Showers stimulates the circulatory system and metabolism.  Get wet to feel more energetic.

Get wet to freshen up and get a shot of energy. Photo by Liz Noise / FlickrGet wet to freshen up and get a shot of energy. Photo by Liz Noise / Flickr

27. Stand up, stretch and take a couple of deep breaths.

Stretch your arms, back, legs, and neck.  Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it, and let it out slowly and forcefully.  Repeat several times.  This will take 30 seconds and will be an instant fix.  When you sit back down, you’ll have the clear head and fresh feeling needed to power through the tough/boring task in front of you.

28. Get your world organized.

When your world is organized, you don’t have to expend mental energy keeping track of a million things.  Here’s how to take back control of your time and productivity:

Zen desk = less stress = more energy. Photo by Laure Wayaffe / Flickr

Zen desk = less stress = more energy. Photo by Laure Wayaffe / Flickr

29. Look on the bright side.

A generally upbeat and optimistic outlook on life will keep your energy level up.  Yes, the worst thing that can happen might actually happen, but giving it too much worry will only drain you.  Look for the positive in every situation and you won’t be so tired.

30. Take a mini-vacation.

Take one day and just do whatever you want.  No work, no chores, no errands.  Enjoy your one full day of vacation, then come back to work more motivated and energetic.

31. Eat a satisfying breakfast but a light lunch.

A heavy lunch, especially one with lots of carbs or fat (like a burger combo) will hit you as soon as you get back to the office.  And it’ll be a sluggishness that lasts to the end of the day.  Eat a big breakfast instead.  It provides the fuel you need for the day, at the time when your body needs it the most.  Not only will you avoid the afternoon food coma, the big breakfast will make you more productive in the mornings.  Double win.

Beautiful Breakfast on a Sunday Morning in Shanghai (Charles Chan / Flickr)Start your day with a powerful breakfast that provides the fuel you need for the day. Photo by Charles Chan / Flickr

32. Choose protein over fat or carbs.

Foods with lean (low fat) protein help you feel fuller for longer.  It also prevents blood sugar spikes, giving you more steady energy.  Lean protein foods include fish and other seafood, lean pork, or chicken breasts (“white meat”).

33. Shed a few pounds.

The things you do to lose weight — exercise, drink water, avoid simple sugars — are actions that also have a positive effect on your energy level.  Even better, the actual loss of excess fat provides an energy boost of its own.  You’ll feel “lighter” and things that use to make you breathless will now seem much easier. Losing weight provides a double-impact to boosting your energy.

But be careful with fad and/or crash diets.   Cutting out too many calories (ie., energy your body needs) too fast will cause you to be even more tired. Take small steps, and make it a lifestyle change so you shed the fat for life.

34. Listen to tunes while you work.

It’s well known that our brain’s pleasure centers light up when we hear music. Throwing on the headphones and listening to any music you like while working will give you a productivity boost.

35. Start exercising.

If you have a fairly sedentary life, just the idea of starting an intense exercise program is exhausting.  But if you go slow, literally taking one step at a time, you can go from being sedentary to becoming a runner just like Leo.

Get moving! Getting some exercise will lift your energy levels all day. Photo by Hamed Saber / FlickrGet moving! Getting some exercise will lift your energy levels all day. Photo by Hamed Saber / Flickr

36. Eliminate stress.

Stress is draining.  Sometimes it’s worth it, like when you’re on a deadline to delivery a big project.  Sometimes it’s just a waste of energy.  Leo says,

Certain things in our life just cause us to be more exhausted than others, with less value. Identify them, and cut them out. You’ll have much more energy and much less stress. Happiness ensues.

Here’s how to eliminate stress from your life.

37. Have more sex.

Talk about an endorphin rush! If you keep those endorphins flowing regularly, you’ll have more natural energy.  Literally, more bounce to your step.

38. Move gym time to the morning.

A lot of people go to the gym after work.  Try going to the gym in the morning instead to get energy that lasts all day.  Sure, you’ll have to wake up an hour or two earlier, but you get that time back at night.  That exercise in the morning gets the endorphins flowing, which keeps you happy and productive the rest of the day.  By exercising in the morning instead of at night, you spend the same amount of time at the gym, but get the added benefit of having more energy at work.

39. Purge low-value tasks from your todo list.

If you have a ridiculously long todo list that is impossible to get all the way through, you’ll feel tired just thinking about the todo list.  If you want to actually cross off tasks from your todo list, you’ll need to throw out the crap tasks that you don’t want/need to deal with. Either delegate those tasks, move them into a second “nice but not critical” list, or just admit that they’re probably never going to get done and move them to the “maybe/someday” list.  Shortening your todo list to just the most critical, must-do tasks will give you the “energy” to start knocking out those tasks.

40. Avoid the mid-day cocktail.

If you want to function in the afternoon, avoid alcohol at lunch.  Even if it’s just one beer.  Alcohol’s sedative effects will take hours to recover from, killing the rest of your afternoon.

Skip the alcohol at lunch if you want to make it to 5:00. Photo by ktylerconk / FlickrSkip the alcohol at lunch if you want to make it to 5:00. Photo by ktylerconk / Flickr

41. Get a massage.

Loosen up those tight muscles and you’ll feel more relaxed.  A more relaxed you means a happier and more productive you.  Trade a quick shoulder rub with a coworker after lunch to perk both of you up for the rest of the afternoon.

42. Dress up.

Feeling better about yourself has a magical way of giving you more energy. Put just a tad more effort into looking your best for work, and you’ll get compliments from coworkers that will make you feel better — and make you a perkier, more energetic worker bee.

43. Don’t drink yourself to sleep.

Alcohol keeps your body from entering deep sleep, so even if you get the same hours of sleep, you won’t feel as rested.  Limit alcohol the hours before bedtime to get the best night’s sleep.

44. Get a thyroid test from your doctor.

If you are chronically fatigued, it may be a symptom of hypothyroidism. That’s when not enough thyroid hormone is produced, with fatigue as one of its symptoms.  Visit the doctor if you’ve been tired for a long time and haven’t had a checkup in a while.

45. Take a walk outside.

Getting outside for some fresh air, a change of scenery, and a quick walk to get your blood going will do wonders for your mood and motivation.  Seeing the sun is a signal to your body that it’s not bedtime yet.

Photo by vshioshvili / FlickrTake a walk outside to clear your head.  Photo by vshioshvili / Flickr

46. Lower your blood pressure.

Besides being a risk factor for a heart attack, high blood pressure makes you fatigued.  If you haven’t seen your doctor lately, go in and get your blood pressure checked.

47. Rotate yogurt into your diet.

Yogurt with live cultures keep your digestive system clean, which helps your body absorb all the nutrients from food.  That makes you healthier and more energetic.  Yogurt is also a good low-fat snack.

48. Have a laugh.

Laughter is great medicine for exhaustion.  Make sure you laugh regularly to keep your mood up.  Seek out funny people or subscribe to a daily email joke. I like the geeky comic xkcd for a quick smile.  What’s your favorite quick funny pick-me-up?

49. Add more cardio to your gym time.

The aerobic exercise gets your blood pumping.  It builds stamina and endurance, which is useful for both triathalons and neverending department meetings.

50. Take up yoga.

The stretching, slow controlled movements, and focus on breathing reduces tension (and stress).  The benefits include better sleep, feeling more relaxed, and being mentally sharper.

51. Eat eggs.

When people have eggs (mostly protein) for breakfast, versus bagels (all carbs), they feel more energy and eat less at the next meal.  Protein makes you feel fuller without feeling stuffed, and they provide a steady stream of energy for your body (versus the quick high and crash of carbohydrates).  Eggs are a great for breakfast or as an addition to a lunch salad.

52. Get a good night’s sleep.

We need 7-8 hours of sleep to be fully rested.  Consistently sleeping less than 6 hours a night builds up a “sleep debt” that is hard to recover from.  If you’re getting enough sleep, it should take you up to 30 minutes to fall asleep.  If you’re falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow (or while sitting at your desk), that’s a symptom of sleep deprivation.

53. Get more ginseng.

Ginseng is well-known to have energy boosting properties.  It is an adaptogen, which means it build resistance to stress and boosts energy.  A ginseng supplement or sipping tea with ginseng can help improve energy.

54. Socialize.

Turn off the Internet and go socialize with friends.  Humans are social animals, and we need regular socializing to keep ourselves in peak health and energy.

Go out and play with your friends! Photo by Strocchi / FlickrGo out and play with your friends! Photo by Strocchi / Flickr

55. Get on your toes.

Roll up and down on your toes.  This stimulates your circulatory system, which will deliver much-needed oxygen and fuel (glucose) throughout your body.  You’ll be more energized and sharper.  You can do this right now.

What’s your secret for getting more energy? Share it in the comments!

For more terrific ways to improve your life without spending a fortune, check out Wise Bread’s new book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.  The book includes guest contributions from Zen Habits, Get Rich Slowly, The Simple Dollar, Digerati Life, and the Frugal Duchess.

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10 Nutrients Scientifically Proven to Make You Feel Awesome

10 Nutrients Scientifically Proven to Make You Feel Awesome

Want some pep in your step? Perhaps a dash of good cheer? (Who doesn’t, right?). Look no further than the grocery store’s shelves. Foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are not only super healthy, but can also increase happiness, lessen symptoms of depression, and quell anxiety [1] [2].

10 Foods Scientifically-Proven to Make You Happier

How can foods improve our moods? It all comes down to the brain. A healthy cognitive system is essential to regulating mood, and certain nutrients have a profound impact on maintaining normal brain function [3]. To date, researchers have studied the association between foods and the brain and identified nine nutrients that can combat depression and boost our mood: calcium, chromium, folate, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and zinc [4] [5]. Try one of these foods for a mid-day pick-me-up, to promote long-term happiness, or to ward off the nagging worry that you forgot to lock the front door (You did remember, right?).

 A bit about the units used below: Mg (milligram) is the typical unit of measurement for nutrients and 1,000 mg equals 1 gram. Mcg is the abbreviation of  microgram and 1,000 mcg equals 1 mg. 

1. Calcium

Calcium

 The most abundant mineral in the body, calcium plays an important role in maintaining strong bones and healthy blood vessels, and in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Low levels of calcium may play a role in PMS-related depression in particular [6] (Sorry guys, we couldn’t find data on whether calcium can also regulate male fluctuations in mood). Calcium deficiency affects more women than men, so women should take special care to meet the daily requirements [7].

How eating it helps: Found in a variety of sources (non-dairy included), calcium is often paired with vitamin D to help regulate mood fluctuations attributed to PMS [6]. Since estrogen plays a large role in calcium production, calcium consumption may improve PMS-related depression [9].

RDA: 1,000 mg per day for adults

Food Sources of Calcium:

2. Chromium

 A trace mineral found in small amounts in the body, chromium helps the body metabolize food [10]. A lack of chromium hurts the body’s ability to regulate insulin (the hormone that regulates sugar) and may lead to diabetes-related complications like vision loss and high blood pressure [11].

How eating it helps: Chromium plays an important role in increasing the brains’ level of serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin, which help the brain regulate emotion and mood [12]. Because chromium works directly with the brain’s mood regulators, it’s been found to be an effective treatment of depression [12].

RDA: 25 mcg per day for women; 35 mcg per day for men

Food Sources of Chromium:

  • Broccoli (1/2 cup): 11 mcg
  • Grape juice (1 cup): 8 mcg
  • Whole-wheat English muffin (1 piece): 4 mcg
  • Potatoes (mashed) (1 cup): 3 mcg
  • Turkey breast (1/3 cup): 2 mcg
3. Folate

 Folate (alternatively known as B9 or folic acid) helps the body create new cells and supports serotonin regulation. Serotonin passes messages between nerve cells and helps the brain manage a variety of functions, from determining mood to regulating social behavior. Folate deficiency can cause fatigue in addition to lowering levels of serotonin [14].

How eating it helps: A pair of power nutrients, Folate and B12 are often paired together to treat depression [15]. By itself, Folate has the added benefit of boosting the efficiency of antidepressants [16].

RDA: 400 mg per day for adults

Food Sources of Folate:

4. Iron

 Iron plays an important role in the body, from transporting oxygen to supporting energy levels and aiding muscle strength. Low levels of iron can lead to feelings of fatigue and depression [17]. Iron deficiency appears more frequently in women than men, especially women of childbearing age [5].

How eating helps: Consuming enough iron will help prevent iron anemia (not enough iron), a condition that commonly affects women more than men. Keeping enough iron in the body is important, as the fatigue, apathy, and mood change associated with the iron deficiency can often lead to depression [4].

RDA: 18 mg per day for women; 8 mg per day for men

Food Sources of Iron: 

5. Magnesium

 Magnesium is a mineral that plays over 300 roles in maintaining and protecting the body’s health. Deficiency can cause irritability, fatigue, mental confusion, and predisposition to stress.

How eating it helps: Magnesium plays a large role in the development of serotonin, which is a major contributor to feelings of happiness [20]. Due to its ability to help regulate emotions, it’s a common element in homeopathic remedies for balancing mood [21].

RDA: 310 mg per day for women; 400 mg per day for men

Food Sources of Magnesium:

6. Omega-3s

 Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that plays an important role in brain health and contributes up to 18 percent of the brain’s weight [22].The body does not naturally produce Omega-3s, so the fatty acid needs to be consumed from outside sources. Deficiency symptoms include fatigue, mood swings, memory decline, and depression.

How eating it helps: Studies show a correlation between consumption of fish with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and a decreased risk of depression and suicide [23]. Whether eating fish or snacking on chia seeds, increasing your intake of omega 3 fatty acids may help combat depression [24].

RDA: There is no established RDA for Omega-3s, but the American Heart Association suggests eating a variety of fish (trout, herring, and salmon) at least twice a week. For vegetarians, there are also plenty of non-meat sources of Omega-3s (see below for a few suggestions).

Food Sources of Omega-3:

7. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 helps the production of neurotransmitters (which send messages from the brain to the rest of the body). Deficiency in B6 can cause short-term anemia; long-term effects include a weakened immune system, confusion, and depression.

How eating it helps: Consuming vitamin B6 is essential for regulating brain function, which influences our emotions [25]. In addition to regulating healthy moods, Vitamin B6 is also an effective method for treating premenstrual depression [26].

RDA: 1.3 mg per day for adults

Food Sources of B6:

8. Vitamin B12

B12  is an essential element that aids in the creation of red blood cells and nerves. Low levels of B12 can cause short-term fatigue, slowed reasoning, and paranoia, and are associated with depression [15]. Vitamin B-12 is found naturally in meats, eggs, and animal byproducts, meaning vegetarians and vegans have an increased risk of developing a deficiency.

How eating it helps: Because moods depend largely on signals from the brain, B12 plays an important role in regulating depression — consuming enough vitamin B12 allows the body to synthesize a group of nutrients critical for normal neurological function [28].

RDA: 2.4 mcg per day for adults

Food Sources of B12:

9. Vitamin D

 Vitamin D helps regulate cell growth, plays an important role in maintaining the immune system, and (when paired with calcium) protects bones. Studies show that low levels of vitamin D are associated with depressive symptoms in both men and women [29] [30]. Most often, lowered levels of Vitamin D are the result of indoor lifestyles, limited sun exposure, and inadequate intake of vitamin-D-rich foods.

How eating it helps: If you’re feeling blue, increasing vitamin D could help ward off depression.  Consuming the mood-regulating vitamin is important, especially during the wintertime when light from the sun (a natural producer of vitamin D) is limited [31].

RDA: 600 IU per day for adults ages 15 to 60

IU (International Unit) is a type of measurement typically reserved for Vitamin A, C, D and E. 40 IU’s of Vitamin D will equal 1 mcg— so Cod liver oil will have 1,360 IU or 34 mcg of Vitamin D.

Food Sources of Vitamin D:

10. Zinc

 Zinc is found in almost every cell and plays an important role in supporting a healthy immune system and helping the body protect the gut from damage [32]. Low levels of zinc in the diet can lead to a variety of ailments, including a weakened immune system, loss of appetite, anemia, hair loss, and depression. Vegetarians need as much as 50 percent more zinc than non-vegetarians due to the body’s lower absorption rate of plant-based zinc [5].

How eating it helps: Studies have identified zinc as an important factor in decreasing depressive symptoms, as the vitamin can improve the response of antidepressants while reducing the side effects of anti-depression medication [34]. A lack of zinc can trigger depressive behaviors, so load up on zinc-rich foods to balance your mood. [35].

RDA:  11mg per day for men; 8mg per day for women

Food Sources of Zinc:

What foods do you eat for maximum happiness? Share in the comments below, or get in touch with us on Facebook!

About the Author

Maya Dangerfield

I’m a recovering teacher and editorial intern for Greatist.com. I love mixed martial arts, soccer, scuba diving, and any challenging physical…

10 Signs of True Happiness

10 Signs of True Happiness

What do living in the now, pursuing smart thrills and having happy friends have in common? They are signs that you are truly happy.

10 Signs of True Happiness

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Enjoyment of life ‘key to living longer’

reposted from BBC News

Enjoyment of life ‘key to living longer’

By Hannah Richardson BBC News education and family reporter

Older cyclists
The study suggested those who were physically active remained healthy longer.
Those who enjoy life the most are three times more likely to live a little longer than those who enjoy it the least, a study of ageing suggests.

University College London researchers’ study of 10,000 English people also suggested future disability and poor health could be predicted by the state of a person’s mind.

The team said the effects were “large” and independent of age, sex and wealth.

Happiness could be used to spot people at risk of ill health, they added.

Researchers tracked the psychological well-being of 10,000 people aged 50 to 100 over nine years as part of the university’s English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

They interviewed the participants three times between 2002 and 2011, assessing them using three measures of psychological well-being and testing their enjoyment of life with a series of questions.

They found that those recorded as having the greatest enjoyment of life at first interview were more likely than other participants to still be alive nine or 10 years later.

‘Greater enjoyment’

“The difference between those who enjoyed life the most and those who enjoyed life the least was marked, with nearly three times more people dying in the lower than greater enjoyment group,” the study said.

Prof Andrew Steptoe, who led this part of the research, said: “What we have found is over a nine year period that about 20% of people will pass away during this time.

“What we found is that out of those people in the highest third of people with the most enjoyment, 9.9% died. Of people in the lowest third of enjoyment 28.8% of them died.

“This was the case even when factors such as age were taken into account, we still find this protective effect of enjoyment.”

‘Socially isolated’

Prof Steptoe said this could be happening because the kind of people who are happy are the kind who take care of themselves and are therefore quite healthy.

He also suggested that people of a happy disposition were less stressed.

And he also suggested that environmental factors, such as strong social networks, could be at play.

The report also found that one in six people in England aged over 50 were socially isolated.

The Elsa research team, which comprises researchers from UCL, NatCen Social Research, the University of Manchester, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, found the wealthier over-50s were half as likely to become socially isolated than the least wealthy.