No matter what time of year it happens to be, one thing is clear, we could all use a little more love in our lives. What most people don’t realize is the fact that there are things we can do everyday to help insure that we not only get the love we need, but also pay it forward to others. One of the largest contributing factors to why people don’t take matters into their own hands is because they are unsure how to do just that. Luckily, there are several things we can do to stock up on all the love we can.
The Side Effects Of Isolation
In the 1970’s a study was conducted using monkeys. The study was called Harlow’s monkey experiment. It used newborn monkeys that were removed from their mothers and given artificial mothers. The experiment started out with a single wire monkey mother with a bottle of food and a cloth cover for warmth. Later in the experiment the monkey was given the choice between a wire frame mother which had the bottle of food, and another with no food but had a warm cloth. The monkeys that had been deprived of physical contact chose to be with the cloth mother over having access to food. This experiment displayed just how important physical contact is to our development and psyche.
Let’s Get Physical
What is it about physical contact that plays such a big role in our development? It turns out that the act of physical contact helps release a number of hormones that we need in order to grow and establish bonds. In fact, physical interaction and contact are one of the best ways to increase the production and release of our happiness hormones. The hormones that are most commonly released during periods of happiness are: Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Endorphins. One hormone’s main functions is to establish and strengthen social and maternal bonds. The hormone responsible for this is Oxytocin.
Get To Know Oxytocin
Oxytocin is both a peptide hormone and a neuropeptide. This basically means that like most hormones it has many jobs. It is primarily produced in the hypothalamus and then released by the posterior pituitary. Oxytocin plays a key role in social bonding, sexual reproduction, childbirth, and the period after childbirth. During labor Oxytocin is released in response to the stretching of the cervix and uterus, it is also released upon stimulation of the nipples when breastfeeding. Not only does the hormone help with labor and milk production, it also promotes bonding between mother and child. As a by product women contain more receptors for Oxytocin as well as higher levels of its production. Estrogen has also been found to increase the secretion of Oxytocin and enhance the expression of Oxytocin receptors.
The Love Killer
Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that can reduce our levels of Oxytocin. One of the most common factors that can lower Oxytocin levels is an excess of Cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced and released during periods of stress. Its primary function is to heighten our senses in an attempt to keep us alive in a life or death situation. On the downside in today’s fast paced lifestyle stress tends to be a constant variable. Regrettably this means that we are exposed to an excess of Cortisol which can lead to a number of health related issues. One of these issues is a decline in Oxytocin which can cause us to become further withdrawn from those around us. It also makes us more prone to depression.
The Ups & Downs of Life
With every high there is a low and when it comes to our hormonal levels it is important to remember what goes down can come back up. There are several different ways to increase our Oxytocin levels in a natural way. While physical contact is still the quickest way to achieve this goal, there are several essential oils, foods, and supplements we can us to our advantage. In some cases of severe isolation physical contact may not be on the table as an option. As a safety precaution it helps to keep multiple options in our toolbox.
Most of the essential oils that have been shown to improve Oxytocin levels also display an additional benefit. The essential oils that increase Oxytocin production are also great for reducing Cortisol levels due to their calming effect. The following is a list of essential oils that are best for improving Oxytocin levels.
- Clary Sage
When it comes to essential oils there are several advantages in using them to promote the production of Oxytocin. First off, you do not have to make any changes to your daily nutrition. Another benefit is that they are relatively easy to use and incorporate into your daily routine. Essential oils may be one of the fastest ways to increase Oxytocin other than physical contact. Best of all you do not need to rely on anyone else to reap the rewards. On the downside, if you are sensitive to smells you may want to look into one of the additional options. All of the essential oils that can promote Oxytocin levels are very distinct and their scent is very potent.
The Power of Nutrition
One of my favorite ways to help someone improve their health is through the foods they eat. Most of us have access to food and can easily incorporate the options into our daily routines. When it comes to foods that can help increase Oxytocin the following is a list of the top five foods that can do just that.
- Green Tea
Food is More Than Fuel
In my opinion, food is easily one of the best ways to balance hormones and improve our overall health and wellness. Not only do we all need food to survive, but nutrition is one of the most overlooked tools we have to improve our health. Most dietary choices made in today’s fast paced lifestyle are done in regards to speed. If it is not quick and easy it will not be used. Unfortunately, fast food companies take advantage of this well known fact. The “foods” they produce contain little to no nutritional value. As a by product our bodies are left in a constant state of hunger desperately seeking the nutrients they need. If you want to change your health in as little as thirty days start with your nutrition. What we put into our bodies directly determines what we can get out of them.
Small But Mighty
For some of us it can be difficult to eat enough of the foods that can help increase our Oxytocin levels. Don’t worry if you fall into this category. Luckily, there are several supplements you can reach for if you are unable to utilize any of the other options I have provided. The following is a list of natural supplements that can help improve Oxytocin production.
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Lactobacillus Reuteri
While I believe it is always better to get our nutrients from our foods, there are some individuals who are unable to extract their nutrients from their foods properly. In cases where a person’s digestive tract has been compromised it can be extremely beneficial to incorporate the addition of all natural supplements. This provides the body with high concentrations of these key vitamins and minerals. When it comes to taking supplements it is important to keep in mind that some vitamins are fat soluble and therefore it is possible to overdose on these supplements. As a safety precaution it is important to discuss any supplements with your primary doctor to insure there is no negative interactions with any medications you may be on.
Avocado Spinach Pesto Pasta
Gluten-Free Vegan Serves 4
- 1 Large Avocado
- 2 TBsp Fresh Basil
- 3 Cloves of Garlic
- 2½ Cup Spinach
- ¼ Cup Avocado Oil
- ½ Cup Walnut Halves
- ¼ Cup Cashew Milk
- 7 Cups Fresh Zoodles
- 2 Cups Frozen Peas
- 1 Cup Chopped Broccoli
In a blender combine garlic, walnuts, ½ cup spinach, and basil. Pulse 4-5 times. Add avocado, oil, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth. In a large pan saute zoodles (if you want to make your own just pick up 6-7 zucchinis medium in size and use your slicer of choice to make ribbons or thicker noodles), broccoli, 1 cup of spinach, and peas. Once zoodles start to sweat add pesto sauce and heat up for 4-5 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Need a Helping Hand?
A happy and healthy life is closer than you may think. Our health is something that we all have to deal with daily, and when we don’t feel our best, it shows. If you are tired of just making it through your day then you NEED to start investing in your health today! You are not alone on this journey. If you ever need any help I am always here to do just that. Even if it is something as small as just acting as a sounding board. Do you have any questions or concerns I can help you with? Feel free to contact me directly at DrDeeandMe@gmail.com or you can even book a one-on-one call with me. Be sure to subscribe to gain access to tons of free goodies and check back daily for more great recipes and information!