Keys to your health: oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin

First we must understand what hormones we are talking about: oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin.

The first relates directly to childbirth and breastfeeding. In fact, the term has an etymological origin from the Greek τόκος tokos (“birth”).

Oxytocin is a peptide that is produced in the hypothalamus and stored in the pituitary gland and, in addition to being associated with motherhood, is closely related to other functions that make it widely known as the “love hormone”. Dr. Evelyn Benavides, a neurologist at Clínica Dávila explains: “It’s so named because it performs functions in regulating sexual arousal, confidence, and creating emotional bonds.

This hormone rises, for example, when cuddling someone or during orgasms. Endocrinologist at Endesa, Dr. Maritza Vivanco, highlighted some of the effects of this hormone: “Oxytocin reduces stress and favors bond formation, as it reduces anxiety when interacting with others; in addition, it will occur strongly in the first months of marital relationships, preferably The stage of falling in love.

Dr. Benavides gives us some clues that we can incorporate into our day.

– “It has been observed, for example, that eating dinner with friends, seeing or talking to mother, spending time with children, cuddling, petting your pet, or receiving a massage can increase oxytocin levels. It has also been observed that Physical activity, doing yoga, and listening to music can increase it.”

Dopamine, commonly called the “pleasure hormone,” is a neurotransmitter, that is, a substance that acts as a messenger within the nervous system and is released by the hypothalamus. Some of the functions of dopamine are behavior, reward—that is, feeling positive when a goal is achieved—and sleep, mood, attention, learning, and movement, among others. Its relationship with the latter is fundamental, which becomes apparent when determining that dopamine deficiency is directly related to Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Vivanko also comments that he is currently suggesting that this hormone will have a role not only in the sensation of pleasure but also in the generation of motivation, i.e. “the desire to do something”.

Dr. Maritza Vivanco explains that dopamine production is stimulated by various pleasurable activities, as well as surprising situations. Dr. Benavides also elaborates: “In general, all activities that have strong emotions, such as skydiving, can increase activity, meditation, and a good diet.” The specialist also notes that some supplements such as curcumin and magnesium can raise it.

Perhaps the most common hormone associated with pleasurable sensations is endorphins, a substance the body releases to relieve pain and provide a state of well-being.

This is also a neurotransmitter, produced by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which has a structure similar to that of morphine, which gives rise to its name.

When a person’s level of endorphins is high, it increases feelings of happiness, plus it “reduces anxiety, improves mood, delays aging, enhances immune function and lowers blood pressure,” explains Evelyn Benavides. Dr. Vivanco asserts that an “anti-inflammatory role has also been postulated”.

– Endocrinologist Maritza Vivanco notes: “It can be stimulated by exercise, dance, music, meditation, sex, dark chocolate (cocoa >70%) and acupuncture,” among others.

– Neurologist Evelyn Benavides adds that activities such as massage and laughter will be added to this.

Singing is also an act that promotes an increase in endorphins.

Serotonin is also known as the “happiness hormone”, and this can be understood almost literally because, for example, in situations the absence or low level of this substance is associated with depression. In addition, it plays a very important role in terms of controlling emotions and moods, regulating weight, sexual behavior, learning, memory, and sleep cycles, among others. In addition, this neurotransmitter has the functions of controlling body temperature and motor activity.

Consuming foods like eggs, bananas, nuts, broccoli, spinach, cocoa and chia can help in its production.

Follow healthy sleep habits, sleep the necessary number of hours at the right time.

Do physical activity.

– To practice Full concentration of the mind.

In addition, according to the American neuroscientist Alex Korb, a simple way to increase serotonin in the body is to think about happy memories. It is also hypothesized that hugs, sun exposure, and exercise can help increase this hormone.

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