Find Your Happy Hormones

90% of our nervous system is found in our gut. That’s where serotonin, our happy hormone, is made. That opens up a whole new world of things controlled by digestion: anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease, to name a few. Why? Picture this scenario:

Bob is walking through downtown Manhattan eating the chili dog he bought on the corner for lunch. He neglects to see the car at the intersection run the light as he is crossing. His fight or flight hormones kick in, allowing him to jump back without being hit or dropping his lunch. Bob returns to his desk, sees an email from his boss about a deadline he’d missed, and gets enraged. The rest of the day goes on like that. Bob is still wound up when he gets home, so he binge-watches Netflix until 2 AM.

This may sound like a pretty typical day for most of you. Why couldn’t Bob turn off his fight or flight response hours after the near-miss at lunch? Wait for it…serotonin, bingo. Bob does not have enough healthy gut bacteria to produce the right amount of serotonin to chill him out after escaping danger.

What can Bob do to reduce his risk of a variety of chronic illnesses? Of course, switch out that chilidog for a salad now and then, but another thing he can do, is exercise. Ever notice how bodybuilders or runners seem like addicts? They are! Exercise produces that magical serotonin allowing us to feel happy, calm, and chill—the more intense the workout, the better the happy high.

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