The Connection Between Health and Happiness

Because the Guerrilla Diet is what I call a wholistic lifestyle program, it means that we take into consideration all of the effects that all parts of our lives have on our health and wellbeing, as well as how our health and wellbeing effects all other parts of our lives.

In order to attain and maintain health, one must consider factors that influence not only the physical body but also psychological, social and spiritual aspects of one’s life. A wholistic lifestyle program like the Guerrilla Diet & Lifestyle program does just that.

The definition of the word heath by The World Health Organization states that health is not merely an absence of disease, but a state of complete physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. 

According to research studies, a state of happiness increases a persons’ lifespan by 15–20%.

So what can we do to reach the state of mind of happiness in our day to day lives? 

Here are 7 starting points:

1. Actively Work To Reduce Stress By Eliciting The Relaxation Response

In the face of stress, the brain initially generates the “Fight or Flight” response where all of the necessary resources of the body act together to cope with the stressful situation including a significant use of mental energies.

Stress generates a major response in the brain, with a host of neurotransmitters helping to adapt to the stressful event and leading, in turn, to the secretion of cortisol by the adrenal glands. The stress cycle generates feelings of fear, alertness and increased carefulness. 

Following the initial phase of the stress response, exhaustion sets in with depletion of reserves and lowered immunity. This leads to the onset of disease.

However,  we can control the stress reaction and induce a relaxation response within the brain by turning on feelings of pleasure (which I will soon mention), meditation, visualization, deep breathing, hypnosis or spiritual practices. People who regularly produce the relaxation response in the brain through these methods have greater resilience to stress and trauma than people who don’t.

Studies show that when people are engaged in a funny video, levels of cortisol fall by 39%, and adrenaline levels fall by 70%, while levels of endorphins aka “feel-good” hormones, increased by 27%, leading to lowered blood pressure, reduced stress hormones, increased muscle relaxation and a boost in immune function.

We, humans, can influence our brains by changing negative emotions to positive ones through Yoga, deep breathing, meditation, spiritual practices, laughter or any activity that involves complete engrossment (reading, listening to music, watching a movie, playing a game). All of these activities inhibit the stress response. So you definitely want to take part in these activities that elicit the relaxation response regularly in order to ensure health and happiness.

2. Take care of what you put in your body.

We have become more insightful about the effects of the foods we consume. But most do not understand the depth of the effects foods have on our brain and health.

The neurotransmitters in our brains are produced from amino acids that come from our diet. 

Different diets have different amino acid profiles and different nutrients and thus will lead to the production of different neurotransmitters. 

  • A diet rich in almonds, bananas, spinach, walnuts, oats, and brown rice will increase the neurotransmitter GABA which will have an analgesic, tranquilizing and calming effect on the brain making a person more relaxed and composed. 
  • A diet rich in whole grain wheat and barley will increase the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which increases the speed at which the brain works and makes one more innovative and intuitive. 
  • A diet rich in walnuts, poultry, and cheese, will increase dopamine production making one more achievement-oriented.
  • A diet rich in plant-based protein with high fiber foods will help boost serotonin levels which will make one more adventurous, independent and passionate. 
  • A diet rich in glutamate, found in soy sauce, mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, broccoli, walnuts, and peas is involved in better judgment, reasoning, abstract thinking and spirituality.

Since neurotransmitters are modifiable by diet, the statement, “you are what you eat” is actually very accurate. Neurotransmitter dominance shapes human behavior, and this can be changed through a change of diet and exercise which I will mention later in this article.

3.    Keep growing, keep learning.

It is challenging to feel happy if you don’t feel like the person you are, is the person you want to be. We all have dreams of becoming or fulfilling ourselves in different ways, but it seems that day-to-day activities pull us away from what we want the most. Despite all this, challenging yourself to keep growing, developing skills and learning new things that interest you is crucial for feeling worthy, comfortable and accomplished with who you are. These give meaning to life, and without purpose and progress it is difficult to maintain a healthy, happy state of mind.

Furthermore, people with a solution-seeking attitude feel more in control of life, and this, along with feelings of achieving progress, no matter what challenges they face, when they tap into the resources of their brain and use it more fully, a sense of meaning and happiness will prevail.

4.    Feed your mind with good thoughts

If you have you ever been around a negative person, you know that all it takes is a little while of listening to them, and soon enough you too will feel just as bad as they do. That is why it is super essential to fill yourself with positive thoughts and stick to positive words in your life continually. Gratitude and focusing on the half full cup and seeing the upsides in your life that you can be thankful for and maintaining a positive outlook on life is crucial.  

The brain accommodates both positive and negative emotions. Unfortunately, our brain acts like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive experiences; so, bad memories stick and good memories are quickly lost. 

However, it is possible to reverse this process and enjoy more peace and happiness in life, and you really want to do this to support health since positive emotions strengthen the immune system, and dampen the stress response. Negative emotions on the other hand, increase the risk of acquiring common chronic diseases. 

Negative thoughts beat positive thoughts and negative emotions create a dangerous downward spiral. These negative emotions lead to destruction and breakdown inside the body, whereas positive emotions are anabolic and lead to growth. Positive emotions can inhibit negative emotions.  Positive emotions also increase telomere length increasing longevity, whereas negative emotions, like chronic stress, decrease telomere length, shortening lifespan.

Positive emotions lead to healthy neurons, while negative emotional states, like depression, reduce brain cell function and shrink brain cell connections. 

In fact, all behavior is affected by the emotional state people are in.

Positive emotions also lead people to act quicker in response to a situation, whereas, negative or neutral emotions, lead to delayed or no action in response to a situation, leading to depression and even more negativity.

Emotional intelligence, social intelligence, and relaxation methods can and should be learned and developed for maintaining a healthy state of mind and reducing disease risk.

5.    Share your world with others.

Having people with whom you share your ups and downs with and life’s victories and losses and everything in between is part of a balanced, healthy life. Of course, relationships take time, but giving of yourself is as important as all of the other points mentioned.

Social interactions are fundamental and central to enhancing one’s life. Humans are social beings. Studies show that a crucial factor for happiness is social relationships with other people. 

Social interactions lead to feelings of commitment and participation in life and increase happiness states.

6.    Get your body moving.

Physical activity makes you smarter, happier and increases the number and health of your brain cells depending on the intensity and regularity of the exercise performed.

Physical activity, just as diet, will influence the production of different neurotransmitters. For example, aerobic exercises and Yoga, bring about a rise in the levels of the neurotransmitters GABA, dopamine, and acetylcholine, while anaerobic exercises builds up the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.

Sometimes, just by getting out of the house or office for a walk and a change of scenery is enough to change your outlook. Movement profoundly impacts mood and immune system function. Physical activity gets oxygen flowing to the muscles and cells all around our bodies.

7. Pleasure

We are all a slightly different when it comes to our passions and pleasures. The things we can spend hours doing without feeling time go by, will not be the same for all of us. But when we can pour ourselves into something and give it our undivided attention and enjoy the process, this state of being is happiness, and it is healing for the brain and body.

Even physical pleasures are crucial for happiness. These come not from a single component but from the interplay of different delights, life-meaning, and social connectedness as well as monetary, aesthetic and musical pleasures.

Conclusion:

An appropriate diet and positive physical and mental activities modify the chemical environment of the brain to release certain neurotransmitters that change behaviors. If proper dietary, exercise, mindset and supplement recommendations are followed correctly, these will lead to wholistic health and affect all fields of life which will lead to longevity and overall happiness.

Feel free to comment below and let me know what you liked best about this article.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’d be honored if you would share it with your family, friends, and followers by clicking the Like, Tweet, and Share buttons. If you are serious about improving your health no matter what your age or circumstances, and are ready to finally achieve optimal health and lose the weight you’ve been struggling with, then click HERE to check out my online Guerrilla Diet Wholistic Lifestyle Bootcamp for Healthy and Lasting Weight Loss.

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Thank You, 🙂

Galit Goldfarb

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