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Gabriela G.

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Dopamine Explained

We all seek happiness, and there is a scientific way we can find it.

Dopamine, the feel-good chemical in our brains, positively affects our mood, focus, energy and behaviour.

@gabrielagg80

Here are 11 ways you can increase dopamine levels in the brain without medication

ideapod.com

Happiness Centre: Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls our brain's reward and pleasure centre. It can help us:

  • Lose Weight
  • Fight against Depression
  • Be Motivated
  • Improve our Memory
  • Feel Happy
  • Stay mentally strong
  • Reduce bad habits
  • Increase Feelings of contentment
How Dopamine Works

The body and mind seek pleasureable experiences, resulting in the neurons creating dopamine in our brain. This can be also overdone using drugs, leaving a negative impact eventually.

Avoid Sugar

Sugar interferes with your brain's dopamine centre, and occasionally it is ok.

High levels of sugar is dangerous, as it is now classified as a drug, having similar addictive effects.

Turn off your Smartphone

Our Smartphone emits radiation that effects and interrupts our brain's dopamine production.

Turn off your smartphone or go out and get some sunshine, away from electronic gadgets.

Get some Sunshine

Go out in nature, in the sunshine, as it increases dopamine production, as proven in many studies on nature's effect on our bodies and minds.

Simple Exercise

Many studies have proven that even simple exercise like walking or climbing stairs can increase our dopamine levels.

Take the right Food

Apart from over the counter supplements, there are many foods that increase the chemicals responsible for dopamine production:

  • Bananas
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Green Tea
  • Watermelon
  • Yogurt
  • Coffee
  • Almonds
Sleep

A good sleep can dramatically impact your mood and productivity.

Lack of sleep makes us feel grumpy and unmotivated, with major health problems in the long run.

Make Sleep a priority to increase your happiness levels.

Protein-rich Diet

A diet full of proteins and having less of saturated fats and oils works for the dopamine production in the brain.

Check your Tasks

If you have a to-do list full of big and small tasks, the more tasks you check off after completion, the more dopamine gets released.

Passionate Work

When we do something we enjoy or are genuinely passionate about, we are not stressed and are simply loving the work. This releases dopamine as we are happy doing what we want to do.

Plan your Life

Life is more interesting, full of happiness and joy, if planned and on track. 

Your brain will reward you when you are accomplishing your life goals.

Meditate

Your Brain will be free of worry and stress, as you become more productive and increase dopamine naturally, just be slowing down and creating space for meditation, a silent prayer or mindfulness.

Chewing gum: the Mayans and Aztecs

Chewing gum has been around for hundreds of years in the form of chicle, a resin obtained from the sapodilla tree in southern Mexico and Central America.

Long ago, the Mayans and the Aztecs knew that by cutting the bark, they could collect this resin and create a chewable substance from it. The Mayans cooked and dried it into "cha" to quench thirst and prevent hunger. The Aztecs used it as a breath freshener but viewed public gum chewing as unacceptable.

A Brief History of Chewing Gum

smithsonianmag.com

Modern-day chewing gum

Modern-day chewing gum was invented by Thomas Adams Sr., who got a supply of chicle. They first tried to vulcanize the chicle into some useful industrial substance but found a better idea of boiling and hand-rolling it into pieces of chewing gum.

They sold out their first batch at a local drugstore in hours, then decided to go into the manufacturing business. By the 1880s, Adams gum produced five tons of chewing gum daily.

Becoming rich from chewing gum

As a marketing gimmick, young soap salesman Wiliam Wrigley Jr.decided that his company would give free chewing gum to vendors who place large soap orders.

The gum was more popular than the soap, and he switched careers. By the time he died in 1932, Wrigley was one of the richest men in America.

Chewing gum: Unsustainable harvesting

By the mid-1930s, unsustainable harvesting methods used to increase yields killed almost a quarter of Mexico's sapodilla trees, and scientists predicted total forest depletion within four decades.

Chewing gum manufacturers turned to cheaper synthetic bases made from petroleum, wax and other substances.

How much sleep is enough

Sleep needs vary from person to person. Age, genetics, lifestyle, and environment all play a role.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. People who sleep seven hours a night are healthier and live longer. While the guideline is helpful, you are the best person to judge how much sleep you need.

How to Get a Better Night's Sleep - Well Guides

nytimes.com

To really find out what your individual sleep needs are, do the following experiment for at least two weeks:

  • Pick the same bedtime every night.
  • Turn off your alarm.
  • Record the time you wake up.

You may sleep longer during the first few days, but over the course of a few weeks, a pattern will emerge of how much sleep your body needs each night.

If you often feel tired, your body is telling you that it's not getting enough sleep.

If you're getting eight hours of sleep a night but still feel tired, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder or interrupted sleep.

Keep a sleep diary

A sleep diary will give you important insights into your sleep habits.

For one week, write down:

  • The time you go to bed and the time you wake up.
  • The number of hours you sleep and whether you took naps or woke up during the night.
  • Notice how you feel in the morning—refreshed or fatigued?
How to make healthy smoothies

The key to a healthy smoothie is to get the right balance of vegetables, fruit, protein, and fat and embrace variety.

You can put almost anything into a smoothie, such as water, non-dairy milk or kefir, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, protein powder, maca or matcha, and toppings such as coconut, granola, and cacao nibs.

Are Smoothies Healthy? Here’s What the Experts Say

time.com

Smoothies often become hyper-concentrated sources of fruit sugars. It should be balanced by adding fibre, calcium, vitamins A, C, and K, and protein from dark leafy greens like spinach, kale or swiss chard.

Store-bought smoothies may use artificial sweeteners, fruit juice, too much fat or sweetened dairy products. While they are not a problem if consumed occasionally, it could lead to excessive sugar intake or digestive distress.

Green smoothies are a great way to get vegetables. Research suggests that plant-based diets reduce the risk of chronic disease and cancer.

Green, leafy vegetables, in particular, are linked to a lower risk of developing Type-2 diabetes and decrease age-related cognitive decline.

Smoothies could fit into a diet, but it's best to consider all of the behaviours that support a healthy body, such as eating a balanced diet, getting enough physical activity, ensuring adequate sleep, building social connections and practising stress management.

To make a healthy smoothie, ensure the smoothie contains a mix of foods similar to a meal. Only blending some fruit is not an adequate meal.

A well-rounded smoothie usually contains the following:

  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of fat
  • 1 cup of fruit
  • A handful or two of greens
  • 1 cup of protein.

When you eat a fruit or vegetable in its whole form, digestion starts with chewing. Smoothies don't involve chewing, as the blender does the chewing for you.

This sometimes results in feeling slightly bloated. To solve it, consider eating a smoothie with a spoon like you would a whole-food meal.

A shift in our health behaviors
  • Researchers found the pandemic and resulting lockdowns caused people worldwide to change their health behaviours, cut back on physical activity and eat more comfort foods. Anxiety levels increased while sleep became disrupted.
  • The researchers also found that most people became more sedentary and gave in to their food cravings, such as sugary snack foods. People classified as obese gained more weight and had the largest declines in physical activity.

Yes, Many of Us Are Stress-Eating and Gaining Weight in the Pandemic

nytimes.com

Researchers found some people actually lost weight during the pandemic. They increased their physical activity levels and improved their diets.

Lockdown prompted people to prepare more food at home. Despite snacking on more junk foods, they showed an increase in their "healthy eating scores," a measure of their overall diet quality, including eating more fruits.

People reported significantly higher anxiety levels during lockdown. About 20 percent said their symptoms, such as experiencing dread and feeling unable to control or stop their worrying, were sever enough to interfere with their daily activities.

People reported that their sleep worsened during the pandemic. Only 10 percent of people said their sleep had improved.

This is a good time to assess the healthy habits we let slip and to find new ways to be proactive about our physical and mental health.

Being aware of how our health behaviors changed during the stay-at-home orders could help us prevent it if another lockdown is enforced.

Your Body is a Clock

Around 30 to 50 percent of people sleep between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am. Another 40 percents are either slightly morning people or slightly evening people.

To understand why some people are early birds while others are night owls, we have to take into consideration the body's circadian system.

If you're just not a morning person, science says you may never be

vox.com

The body is an orchestra of organs, each providing an essential function. In this metaphor, the circadian rhythm is the conductor. The conductor makes every neurotransmitter, every hormone, and every chemical in the body cycle with the daily rhythm.

This makes us our sleep habits unique and tailored.

Being a morning (or evening) person is inborn, genetic, and very hard to change.

Tick Tock
  • Every single cell of the body has clock genes, bits of DNA that flip on and off throughout the day.
  • Like the body as a whole, the cell's metabolism is scheduled for efficiency. Clock genes regulate the expression of between 5 and 20 percent of all the other genes in the cell.
When our personal clock is out of sync with the one of our society, our health suffers. 
Less Sleep is dangerous

It has been associated with higher blood pressure, body mass index, and increased calcification of the coronary artery.

  • In lab experiments, people who slept only five hours a night for one week became less sensitive to insulin, which makes it harder to maintain blood sugar levels.
  • In an overnight sleep study of 1,024 individuals, poor sleep was associated with the misregulation of the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin.
Nobody sleeps the whole night through

This is a common misconception.

Also, waking up a few times per night is not necessarily a cause for concern. The most important thing is how you feel when you get up: refreshed, ready to take the day or confused and unable to function?

Shuteye and sleep hygiene: the truth about why you keep waking up at 3am

theguardian.com

We wake up at night for many various reasons. Some of them are:

  1. Having a nightmare
  2. Distracting loud noises
  3. Sleep apnoea
  4. Nocturia (excessive nighttime urination).

However, it is important to let your practitioner know your sleeping habits so that they may analyse whether you have an underlying medical condition.