While having dinner with my friend Tiffany the other night, discussing our Cooking for Fertility DVD, I mentioned I was working on an article about the connection between heartfelt happiness and health. She shared with me that in ancient cultures, before shaman would perform healings they would ask their patient to list ten things that they were grateful for. They believed that this simple act of expressing gratitude was oftenenough intervention to cure what ailed their patients.
Research is confirming this may just be true. A Canadian study revealed that looking for the silver lining throughout life and adopting a positive attitude may lower the risk of heart attacks and Angina. Furthermore, perhaps we can shift our experience of sorrow to joy simply by including pleasurable activities in our lives.
Pleasurable thoughts and experiences change our physiology by flooding the body with feel good chemicals like serotonin and beta-endorphins. Alongside hormones, a chemical called nitric oxide is also released, most commonly in the experience of orgasm. Nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels inducing the relaxation response, which supports the parasympathetic nervous system and combats stress.
Dr. Deborah Kern, a health scientist who specializes in the impacts of pleasure conducted a study where women were enrolled in a Pleasure Diet and encouraged to seek pleasure on a daily basis through all five senses. Kern looked at 22 areas of life satisfaction and noted significant increases in life happiness in all areas.
Lifestyle and nutrition tips to support heart health and happiness:
Meditate on gratitude: Focus on an image that brings you joy and you will begin to resonate with a higher vibration. The Institude of Heartmath uses technology to measure this shift from dissonance (stress) to resonance (pleasure) using technology.
Keep a gratitude list: as shaman healers have long recognizing what you are grateful for can immediately shift your state of mind. Consider keeping a list beside your bed.
Explore your five senses: pay attention to the sensations of pleasure you experience when you taste, touch, smell, see and hear. Notice how different images and feelings impact your state of happiness.
Heart Healthy Foods: in Chinese medicine red colored foods positively impact the heart: beets, tomatoes, red peppers, raspberries and adzuki beans. The following foods also help to build the blood: apricot, beef, beetroot, blackberries, bone marrow, eggs, cuttlefish, dark leafy greens, date, dandelion, fig, grape, kidney bean, liver, hormone-free meat and liver, microalgae, nettle, octopus, oyster, parsley, sardine, spinach, spirulina, sweet rice, and watercress.
Supplements for Heart (Cardiovascular) Health: OPC, Proflavonol 90, CoQuinone 30, Biomega (fish oil)
Exercise: Daily exercise floods the body with fresh oxygen and blood supply. Find activities you love and incorporate them into your routine. Whether you are exercising for pregnancy or for fertility, pleasure is a key component to keep you on track.
Kathryn Flynn is the author of Cooking for Fertility: Foods to Nourish Your Fertile Soul. Kathryn supports men and women worldwide in achieving a healthy pregnancy through nutrition and lifestyle changes in her individual fertility nutrition consultations. For additional information, please feel free to email Kathryn.