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Memories of the 28th Century

The Happiness Diet

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Not long ago I wrote in regard to artificial happiness, but there is an easier way to happiness than the ways that I mentioned. There are foods that provide the components that go into building the neurotransmitters that make humans happy. If someone had a deficiency of some neurotransmitter, then the diet might correct that, and it would make it easier for people to be happy, because there would be more than adequate raw materials for many neurotransmitters. The human body is an excellent chemical factory, but it needs to have the raw materials before it can synthesize.

There are four neurotransmitters or groups of neurotransmitters that are most responsible for people feeling happy. Serotonin, the Catecholamines (norepinephrine, dopamine, and adrenalin), GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), and Endorphins. Greater production of each can be encouraged by certain activities and foods.

Serotonin tends to lead to a positive attitude. Production and release of it can be increased by Vitamin D, which is produced by sunlight on the skin. Serotonin production is also encouraged by massage, exercise, and by thinking pleasant thoughts. Caffeine also encourages the release of serotonin. The precursor of serotonin, L-tryptophan, can be found in a variety of foods, such as milk, turkey, and other high-protein foods, so getting the precursor isnít a problem.

Catecholamines (norepinephrine, dopamine, and adrenalin are in this group) make people feel energized, upbeat, and alert. Catecholamines are obtained exclusively by synthesis from nutrient molecules, mainly the amino acids L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine. Since they are amino acids, they are found in protein foods: meat, eggs, dairy, etc.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) makes people feel relaxed. GABA is synthesized in the body in a chain of reactions that starts with glutamate or glutamic acid from dietary sources. These are processed in the body into glutamine, which is a precursor of GABA. Foods that are high in glutamate or glutamic acid include almonds and other tree nuts, bananas, beef liver, broccoli, brown Rice, halibut, lentils, oats, oranges, other citrus fruit, rice bran, spinach, and whole grains.

Endorphins are opioid chemicals produced in the brain. They relieve pain and give a feeling of well-being. Opiates use the endorphin receptors but are much less powerful. In addition to being released when there are pains, endorphins are released during sexual intercourse, meditation, and other times when the body feels pleasure or ease. Like most neurotransmitters endorphins are amino acids and require dietary proteins. The amino acid d-phenylalanine (DPA) slows the action of the enzymes that degrade endorphins after they have served their purpose. Thus d-phenylalanine keeps the endorphins working longer. D-phenylalanine is a mirror image of the l- phenylalanine that is a precursor of Catecholamines. Endorphins are a group of complex neuropeptide molecules that are synthesized from many components with most of those components being amino acids, so dietary protein sources are called for to produce them. Phenylethylamine, which is found in chocolate seems to be related to endorphins, but there seem to be claims about it than hard facts.

All of these major neurotransmitters that lead to happiness require proteins and vitamins for their syntheses, and some require fats. Putting together the various dietary sources mentioned above we come up with a meal that would include greens, brown rice, turkey, broccoli, milk, and for dessert we could have an orange custard, and polish it off with some high cacao chocolate, almonds, and red wine. Eating meals like this regularly will lead to plenty of precursors for the happiness neurotransmitters, and the brain should be able to produce adequate happiness neurotransmitters, if we encourage it with plenty of sunshine, pleasant thoughts, exercise, and sexual activity. This looks like the prescription of a happy life.

Overall, the prescription for happiness seems to fit humans quite well. I for one would be quite happy to have a life that included the elements that I mentioned above: fresh air, sunshine, eggs for breakfast, meat and vegetables and whole grains for other meals, massage, sexual activity, and other physical activities. Yes, add warmth and comfort, and it would be a very good life. It isnít surprising that people use additives to create false versions of some of the feelings of the real good life.

A typical day's menu:
Breakfast: Melon, bacon, eggs fried in bacon fat, root veggies also fried in bacon fat, rye toast with butter, milk, coffee
Lunch: Cheeseburger or sandwich with meat on rye or whole wheat bread, onion, lettuce, and cheese, milk or ale
Supper: Salad; roast meat, poultry, or fish; roasted root vegetables or brown rice; cruciform vegetable;

After writing this post I searched for happiness diets to see if there are other things of this sort, and unsurprisingly there are, but those didnít attack the matter of producing neurotransmitters. They were more concerned with diets that are generally good for humans. Foods that are suggested include: Seeds and Tree nuts, including almonds and walnuts; Fresh fruit; Legumes; Beets were singled out ; blackstrap molasses; cabbage and other cruciform vegetables; Meat and animal fats, eggs, poultry and fish, especially oily fish such as Sardines; Onions, garlic, etc.; liver; whole grains; and Cholesterol, Folate, Magnesium, Omega-3s, Sunlight.

It appears that there is some investigation into using a diet along these lines to treat drug addictions. If the receptors were filled with endorphins, there would be fewer available for opiates. I donít know whether this would have any significant effect, but it might make withdrawal shorter, and it might decrease the desire for opiates.

I was surprised to see cholesterol listed anywhere, because some people foolishly think that it is unhealthy, but nothing could be further from the truth; cholesterol is excellent food and is essential for good health.

I say you
ought to eat what
you will. Shove it
in your mouth any way
that you can.
from Silver Spoon
Lyrics by Paul Kantner

The suggestions that I gave are simply suggestions, and as I put in an earlier post different people have different dietary needs. I have converted to Pythagoreanism, so I ignore suggestion to eat legumes.

On Catecholamines
On endorphins

Happiness Diet
Happiness Diet

Updated 02-02-2014 at 03:56 PM by PeterL



  1. NikolaiI's Avatar
    Interesting -

    However, I'd say it's much better to be vegetarian.
  2. PeterL's Avatar
    Thanks for the laugh. That is funny.
  3. NikolaiI's Avatar
    For some reason. I had a feeling you'd say something like that.

    Take care and good luck with yourself and your karma.
    Updated 01-29-2014 at 08:33 PM by PeterL