Category Archives: Blog

After the Feast: How to Recover from Easter Indulgence

Three chocolate bunnies, two handfuls of small but terrible eggs along with what seems like dozens of Hot Cross Buns drenched in butter, and a few extra inches along the waistline. In one way or another, we have all been there.

If you are feeling bloated, heavy, and unhealthy after Easter, follow these tips to drop the holiday weight and recover from the aftermath.

Drop the Chocolate

According to Health.gov, a sedentary man or woman should consume an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day. If you hit your daily calorie count and continue eating chocolates and other sugary treats on top of your usual three meals a day, you are taking in additional calories that will lead to unhealthy weight gain.

One of the biggest issues with big celebrations is that the habit of overeating lasts for weeks after the event. If you overindulged and spoiled your sweet tooth this Easter, you will need to stop overdosing in any more sweets to lose the excess weight and the sick-to-your-stomach feeling.

Focus on Low-Calorie Foods

Vegetable-based broths, green leafy salads, white fish, and berries are all nutrient-dense foods that contain very few calories. A period of overeating calorific, greasy, and sugar-loaded foods can flood your body with plenty of extra fat and energy. In an attempt to buffer this, center your meals around leafy vegetables, fruits, and fish to get your health back on track.

Move It, Move It, Move It!

After giving up the sugar and choosing low-calorie options, the next step is to introduce your body to exercise. Additional calories will not present an issue if you burn them off. Depending on how much weight you have gained or how sickly you feel, you can try a variety of workouts to improve your health. For example, you can start small and walk around the neighborhood with your dog, or go big and join the gym. If you want to speed up your progress, aim for at least 10,000 steps every day or 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity. The important thing is to sweat and elevate your heart rate.

Control Your False Hunger

Your mind is your biggest ally in the battle against continued indulgence. During the 24 hours following a delicious Easter feast, your blood sugar will fluctuate uncontrollably. You will experience “false hunger” and a powerful urge to eat more sugar and carbs. As hard as it is to ignore the calls of your cravings, you need to look at the bigger picture that is your health. Try drinking black coffee or herbal tea, go for a long walk, or do meaningful work. Just keep your mind busy and forget about food. Your body will thank you later.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Once Easter has come and gone, make sure that unhealthy foods have gone along with it. Knowing that chocolate bunnies, leftover biscuits, and other guilty pleasures are lying around the house only fuels your desire to binge. So, once Easter is over, go and donate the food to those in need and practice our tips to regain your healthy self.

cherries

The 2019 Dirty Dozen Food List by EWG

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that educates people on subjects like agricultural practices, protection of natural resources, and the effect of chemicals on human health. Since 1995, they continue to release the Dirty Dozen — a list of conventional fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residues.

In no particular order, these twelve crops have the highest levels of pesticide residues:

  • Strawberries: Conventional strawberries always make it to the Dirty Dozen list. The EWG learned that one-third of strawberry samples had at least ten pesticide residues.
  • Spinach: A whopping 97 percent of spinach samples included pesticide residues, including permethrin, a neurotoxic insecticide toxic to animals.
  • Kale: Over 92 percent of kale samples had residue from at least two pesticides after washing the vegetables.
  • Grapes: Conventionally grown grapes are another consistent part of the Dirty Dozen list with over 96 percent testing positive for pesticide residues.
  • Nectarines: The EWG identified pesticide residues in nearly 94 percent of nectarine samples, with one sample carrying over 15 different pesticides.
  • Apples: Researchers found residues in 90 percent of apple samples. In addition, 80 percent of the apples examined carried traces of diphenylamine, a toxic pesticide banned in Europe.
  • Cherries: There is an average of five residues on cherry samples, including iprodione, which is another pesticide banned in Europe.
  • Peaches: Over 90 percent of conventional peaches tested by the EWG had an average of four different pesticide residues.
  • Pears: Over 50 percent of pears tested by the EWG comprised residues from five or more pesticides.
  • Tomatoes: The EWG detected four pesticide residues on a conventional tomato sample. One sample contained more than 15 different residues.
  • Celery: Over 95 percent of celery samples had as many as 13 different pesticides.
  • Potatoes: Potato samples had more pesticide residues by weight than any other crop tested. An herbicide called chlorpropham made up most of the detected pesticides.

What’s the Real Issue?

There are several conflicting opinions about the safety of pesticides in crops. Although the pesticides used on fruits and vegetables are regulated and maintained below harmful limits, there is a growing concern about how repeated exposure to such substances affects human health.

Several scientific studies found a link between pesticide exposure and adverse health effects, including reproductive issues, respiratory problems, neurological damage, endocrine system disruption, and increased risk of certain cancers.

Children are at greater risk of developing pesticide toxicity than adults because of their smaller size, reduced amounts of detoxifying enzymes, and that their developing brains are more sensitive to neurotoxic pesticides. Therefore, it is quite clear that repeated exposure to high amounts of pesticide can be dangerous.

A Word of Advice from One Home to Another

The health problems associated with pesticide residues are not worth risking, so parents should be cautious when buying conventionally grown produce and feeding it to their children. When in doubt, you can always count on organic fruits and veggies. They may be a tad more expensive than conventional crops, but they do contain more nutrients and have lower levels of pesticides.

belly

Why Your Waistline is Begging You to Lose Belly Fat

belly

An increasing volume of evidence suggests that the amount of fat we hold around our waistlines is one of the best indicators of good health. The circumference of our stomachs supposedly has a strong link to the health of our hearts, our risk for diabetes, and our cognitive performance as we age.

Supporting Evidence on Cognitive Performance

According to a 2018 study, an older man or woman’s waist-to-hip ratio — the easiest way to measure abdominal fat — has a strong connection with their cognitive abilities. In a large, ongoing study about aging in Northern Ireland, researchers examined data from over 5,000 older Irish people. They compared the participants’ belly measurements to their performance on cognitive tests, which were developed to evaluate language, memory, and attention skills. The outcome revealed that the higher a participant’s waist circumference was, the worse he or she performed on the tests.

In addition to measuring people’s waistlines, the researchers also observed their body mass index (BMI) to conclude whether it had strong connections to brain health. Their findings showed that it did not, adding to a growing body of evidence that implies waist circumference is a more reliable predictor of health than BMI.

Heart Health and Diabetes

Alongside the recent study about the link between waist-to-hip ratio and cognitive performance, abdominal size additionally has significant relations with heart and metabolic health. In another 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found links between the participants’ waist measurements and their probability of having a heart attack. The same medical connection was not present between heart attack risks and BMI.

There also appears to be a tie-up between our waistline and the risk of developing diabetes. In one study from PLOS Medicine, researchers learned that overweight men and women were at risk for the impairing disease. The link was stronger in female participants whose waists were larger than 34.5 inches, and in men whose waists were larger than 40 inches.

If you are over these mentioned numbers, it does not mean you will immediately suffer from poor cognitive performance, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. But it could imply that you should consider healthy approaches to trim down your waist and reduce your risk of negative health consequences.

The Explanation

Scientists are still uncertain why our stomachs seem to be effective indicators of our overall health. Some people assume that it has something to do with how fat inside the body (visceral fat), may disrupt the routine functions of our internal organs.

Nutrition is the Starting Point of Good Health

If you want to cut down on belly fat and be healthier, start with your diet. Limiting your intake of processed foods, including canned goods and refined grains, is a recommended strategy. Another bulletproof way to trim your waistline is to eat more vegetables and other fiber-rich foods. Finally, adding at least 30 minutes of movement into your day is essential. Always look for ways to utilize your body by walking, running, cycling, and doing other forms of exercise.

beauty products

A PSA to Moms: Your Beauty Products Can Poison You and Your Child

beauty products

To all moms and expectant mothers, this is a public service announcement for you in observance of National Poison Prevention Week. This information might come as a surprise, but some beauty products in your bedroom or bathroom put you and your child at risk of poisoning.

Over 300 children seek medical attention in the U.S. each day, and two die because of poisoning. The Environmental Protection Agency defines poison or a toxic substance as any mixture that may be destructive to the environment, as well as to human health if ingested. “Ingested” could involve inhalation, consumption, or absorption through the skin.

Surprising Poisons in Your Beauty Room

To avoid health-hazardous consequences, keep these toxic beauty products out of sight and out of reach, especially from curious children.

1. Red Lipstick

Nothing says classic more than a bold, red lip. But there is a not-so beautifying ingredient in some lipsticks: lead, which can cause severe allergy, chapping on the lips, and irreversible health damage. Studies found that 400 varieties of red lipstick has more lead content than the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows in candy.

Lead is a chemical element used in construction projects, such as caulking shower tiles and painting walls. But the danger of excessive lead content in the body has become a significant concern in recent decades. Aside from irritating the lips, ingesting lead can cause behavioral, developmental, and learning difficulties. That said, it is particularly perilous to children and their developing brains.

2. Nail Polish

Even “trusted” brands that proclaim safe formulations may substitute toxic compounds for equally dangerous alternatives. According to a 2016 study, a substance called triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) is an ingredient in various types of nail polish. TPHP is a hormone-disrupting chemical. To make matters more terrifying, the same study revealed another worrying find: the body absorbs the chemical after each application of nail polish. Say it isn’t so!

3. Hair Dye

How many women do you know keep their natural hair color? Probably very few since 75 percent of Amercian women dye their hair every few months. The sad fact is, several chemicals infused within hair colorants have been linked to different cancers and other health conditions.

Some common toxic chemicals in hair dye include:

  • Ammonia: When inhaled in repeated and excessive amounts, ammonia can cause asthma and other respiratory problems.
  • Formaldehyde: This common preservative is present in many hair dyes and has been linked to malignant diseases and fetal damage in utero.
  • p-Phenylenediamine: Also known as PPD, this compound has the highest health risks with links to lung issues, kidney problems, and bladder cancer.

If you want to be sure that your favorite hair dye, nail polish, lipstick, and other holy grail beauty items have zero neurotoxins, send the product to a laboratory that can perform detailed testing. Cosmetics, currently and unfortunately, are subject to limited regulations in the United States. While they fall under FDA purview, the law does not require all beauty products to be FDA-approved before consumers can purchase them.

coffee

Coffee Nap: A Bulletproof, Supercharging Power Nap

Drinking coffee before a nap may seem contradictory and unreasonable. However, caffeine enthusiasts and scientific researchers recommend the habit to boost energy levels.

What is a coffee nap?

A coffee nap is exactly what it sounds like: the act of drinking coffee before sleeping for a brief period. This unconventional way of consuming caffeine is thought to boost energy levels by blocking adenosine, a chemical that promotes sleep. When you feel weak and tired, adenosine flows through your body in significant amounts. The second you fall asleep, your adenosine levels drop.

Caffeine competes with adenosine for receptors in your brain. In a nutshell, caffeine does not decrease adenosine in your body as sleep does. It instead prevents your brain from receiving adenosine, which make you feel less sluggish and slumberous. Napping may enhance the effects of coffee by increasing the availability of receptors for caffeine in your brain.

Do scientific studies support coffee naps?

According to a Japanese study, people who took caffeinated naps before undergoing a series of memory tests performed better compared to others who: (1) only took a nap, (2) took a nap and then splashed their faces with water, (3) took a nap then had a bright light shone in their eyes. Those who took coffee naps also reported feeling less tired.

More evidence shows that caffeine naps can help people stay awake longer without proper sleep. In one study, 24 young men went 24 hours without proper sleep, taking only short naps in between. Twelve of them were given just a placebo and performed worse on a series of cognition tests that were compared with their baseline scores. Twelve others, who had caffeine before their naps, produced scores almost the same as their baselines for the entire day.

coffee

What is the best way to take a coffee nap?

If you made it this far into the blog, then you must be interested in testing the effectiveness of a caffeine nap. How to do it is pretty straightforward.

The first and most important step is to drink hot or iced coffee—not tea or energy drinks. Most experts agree that the best way to take a coffee nap is to consume a caffeinated beverage approximately 15 to 20 minutes before you sleep. This timing is proposed because it takes about that long for caffeine to affect the body. Further research suggests that 200 mg of caffeine (about two cups) is the relative amount you need to feel more alert and energized after napping. Finally, wake up within 20 minutes to avoid entering the deeper stages of sleep and so you are awake when the caffeine stimulates your brain for increased performance.

Coffee naps are worth a shot as long as you don’t go overboard with your caffeine consumption. Why not try taking a caffeinated nap to celebrate Napping Day? Napping Day is a fun and unofficial holiday that falls on a Monday after Daylight Savings Time (DST) begins in the United States. Also, butter in your coffee? It’s a real thing.

I Can’t Focus!” — Brain Fog and Its Causes

Brain fog, also known as clouding of consciousness, is a term used to describe dysfunctions with concentration, learning, and memory. It not only creates brief episodes of confusion and disorientation, but it can also be a source of anxiety for older adults. If you think you are experiencing brain fog, a sign is being unable to cut through to that clear, incisive thinking you used to have.

What are the causes of brain fog?

There are several scientific explanations for why brain fog occurs. Once you determine the underlying cause, you and your doctor can fix the problem. Here are six possible causes.

1. Lack of sleep

Poor sleep quality can interfere with brain function and activity. According to HelpGuide, aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to ensure your brain functions at its best. Getting little sleep in the evening can lead to poor concentration and cloudy thinking.

2. Stress

You may be experiencing chronic stress if your body shows physical signs of tension, such as low energy, chest pains, headaches, and loss of sexual desire. Outbursts of anger, nervousness, sadness, and mental fatigue can additionally indicate high levels of stress. When your brain is exhausted, it becomes more challenging to focus and think. Thus, always make time for relaxing and enjoyable activities to help ease your mind.

3. Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes can cause brain fog, especially during pregnancy. Levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone increase when pregnant, which can affect a woman’s memory and cause short-term cognitive impairment. Likewise, a drop in estrogen level during menopause can trigger poor concentration, forgetfulness, and hazy thinking.

4. Diet

Your diet and food choices play a vital role in the occurrence of brain fog. For example, getting your general supplemental dose of vitamin B12 helps support healthy brain function. Conversely, a deficiency in vitamin B12 can bring about brain fog.

If you suffer from food allergies or sensitivities, brain fog may develop after eating certain foods. These often include:

  • Peanuts
  • Dairy products
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Artificial non-saccharide sweeteners (aspartame)

Eliminating allergens from your diet may improve your symptoms.

5. Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions associated with exhaustion, changes in blood glucose level, and inflammation can cause mental fatigue and, subsequently, brain fog. For instance, brain fog is a manifestation of chronic fatigue syndrome, which involves persistent weakness for longer than six months.

Several other health concerns may induce brain fog, including:

  • Anemia
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Sjogren syndrome
  • Migraines
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Dehydration

Autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and lupus may also contribute to recurrent brain fog.

6. Medications

If you notice brain fog symptoms while taking medication, discuss them with your doctor. One or more of your prescription drugs may be the culprit behind increased confusion and disorientation. Lowering your dosage or changing your prescription may alleviate your symptoms.

A Word of Advice

A case of brain fog can frustrate anyone, most especially if you are a student or working individual. Fortunately, relief is possible. Consult your doctor if you experience lack of clarity that persists or worsens. If brain fog is left unmedicated, it can impact your quality of life. Once your doctor addresses the underlying cause, your mental clarity can improve.

body image

The Vicious Cycle of Body Image and Eating Disorders

A 2007 study focused on mental health issues revealed that people who have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) tend to have increased levels of anger and hostility. Sufferers also have lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of perfectionism. The authors add that there is a 33 percent higher rate of childhood trauma and abuse in people with body dysmorphic disorder when seeking treatment.

Signs of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

body image

When someone has body dysmorphic disorder, they may experience social isolation and avoid friends and family. When going out in public, those with BDD may wear oversized clothing or an excessive amount of makeup to hide perceived flaws. Sufferers may show signs of extreme anxiety, such as restlessness, constant hair pulling or touching, skin picking, and excessive grooming behaviors. They may also comment about feeling insecure about their self-perceived flaws and seek continuous reassurance from loved ones. Men and women with BDD may also refuse to be in photographs and may exhibit an obsession with comparing themselves to those they deem as “perfect.”

People with BDD often spend a chunk of their time obsessing about physical characteristics they regard as ugly or unattractive. The most common body features people obsess about include the face, hair, skin and vein appearance, breast size, muscle size, and genitalia.

Eating Disorders

Distorted body image, also called negative body image, is a shared characteristic of body dysmorphic disorders and eating disorders. According to researchers at Brown Medical School, those who have anorexia (an eating disorder) develop obsessive body concerns similar to those who have BDD. They also believe cosmetic surgery can correct their perceived flaws.

Cosmetic Surgery Obsession

Each year, the United States spends a staggering 15 billion dollars on cosmetic surgery. The top five procedures in 2016 were:

  • Breast Augmentations
  • Breast Lifts
  • Liposuctions
  • Tummy Tucks
  • Eyelid Surgery

For many who have BDD, they struggle with shame, embarrassment, and self-hatred. Eating disorders and cosmetic procedures are a standard way to manage symptoms of BDD, which can sadly turn into a vicious cycle. One study notes that cosmetic surgery can increase a sufferer’s self-loathing and distorted body image, leading to multiple cosmetic enhancements that result in regret.

How They All Connect

Negative body image is the bridge connecting body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and cosmetic surgery obsessions. Those who struggle to accept areas of their body may have BDD, an eating disorder, or both, causing them to seek cosmetic surgery at an attempt to solve their issue.

The problem is, however, that cosmetic surgery will not correct the problem of either BDD or the eating disorder. As mentioned, it can exacerbate the issue even more. Undergoing treatments that include psychiatric management, nutritional consultation, therapy, and group support is the recommended solution. Through this pathway, the sufferer can rebuild and improve their belief structure, behaviors, and emotions that trigger the disorders and move towards recovery.

February 25th to March 3rd is National Eating Disorders Awareness and Screening Week. If you or someone you love is struggling with body dysmorphia, an eating disorder, or a combination of the two, seek help. Many treatment centers can help you break free of the torment.

love is respect

Love Is Respect: Teen Dating Violence and How to Intervene

Unhealthy relationship behaviors are those that impact the physical, emotional, and mental health of a victim. According to Choose Respect, a young man or woman’s harmful relationship behaviors often start early and lead to a lifetime of abuse.

Everyone should know the pervasiveness of teen dating violence in the United States, including fellow students, teachers, and parents.

love is respect

10 Facts About Teen Dating Violence

The following information is from Choose Respect, a national initiative to help teenagers and adolescents build healthy relationships to prevent dating violence and abuse.

  1. 1 in 4 adolescents is a victim of physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse each year.
  2. About 1 in 5 adolescents report being emotionally abused.
  3. About 1 in 5 high school girls have been physically assaulted or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  4. 54% of high school students report dating violence among their peers.
  5. 1 in 3 teenagers reports to an adult when a peer has been physically hurt by their partner.
  6. 80% of teenagers believe verbal abuse (yelling, name-calling, manipulation, and constant criticism) is a serious issue in their age group.
  7. Almost 80% of girls who are physical abuse victims continue to date their abuser.
  8. Almost 70% of sexually abused teen girls knew their rapist. The perpetrator was a boyfriend, friend, or acquaintance.
  9. Most teen dating abuse happens at home.
  10. Almost 20% of teen girls reported that their boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm in the event of a break-up.

The effects of dating violence can last a lifetime. It increases the victim’s risk for substance use, sexual risk behaviors, pregnancy, and suicide. If a teen you know is enduring violence in his or her relationship, there are ways you can help.

How to Talk to a Teen in an Abusive Relationship

Keep in mind that teens may not be willing to share unless they trust you. Be consistent, open, and let them tell their story by:

  • Listening. Most teens are socially trained to allow adults or people of authority to interrupt them. The less you interject, the better.
  • Telling them to stop blaming themselves. Most abusers make their victims feel like it’s their fault the violence is happening. Your job is to insist on the opposite. No amount of faultiness or wrongdoing is enough to become violent towards a partner. Abuse is always a choice, and everyone deserves to feel safe in relationships.
  • Understanding conflicting emotions. Fear, low self-esteem, and believing abuse is normal are common reasons people stay in abusive relationships. If your friend is in an unhealthy relationship, please don’t judge! Instead, support them by understanding why they are unable or refuse to leave.
  • Empowering the teen to make the right choice. Forcing a teen somehow provokes them to do the opposite. For example, ordering your son or daughter to break up with their abuser might only encourage them to stay. To prevent further attachment to their abuser, it may help to give them options instead. Share with a teen how your partner treats you. Tell them that a loving relationship should have respect as one of its foundations, making no room for violence and abuse. Then, ask them if this is something they want in their own romantic relationships. Remember to stay consistent yet patient, and never give up until they make the right decision.

To all the teenagers out there, keep in mind that physical and sexual violence is illegal and can put you behind bars. And if you are a victim of teenage dating violence, realize your worth. Last, if you know someone who is suffering from dating violence, be there for them and encourage the need for help. If they are unwilling to listen or talk, at least offer resources that help educate and empower young people to prevent and end unhealthy relationships.

broken heart

Broken Heart Syndrome Is Real (And It Can Kill You)

“Too much love can kill you,” sings Freddie Mercury. Despite the disbelief of many, it is possible.

What is broken heart syndrome?

Each year, usually around Valentine’s Day, news sources publish stories about “broken heart syndrome” or takotsubo cardiomyopathy. The condition occurs when people experience cardiac issues following an episode of extreme emotional distress.

broken heart

According to the Mayo Clinic, “broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition that’s often brought on by stressful situations, such as the death of a loved one. The condition can also be triggered by a serious physical illness or surgery.”

How can I die of a broken heart?

A sample case happened in 2016 when actress Debbie Reynolds passed because of a stroke. However, reports say she allegedly died of a broken heart following the death of Carrie Fisher, her daughter who played the iconic role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars films.

When you experience takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a portion of your heart muscle — usually a large part — stops functioning, leading to acute heart failure and death. General signs and symptoms of broken heart syndrome include sudden chest pains and shortness of breath.

How is a heart attack different from broken heart syndrome?

Total or near complete blockage of a heart artery is accountable for heart attacks. Any obstruction results from atherosclerosis—a disease in which plaque builds up inside the arteries. In broken heart syndrome, the heart arteries do not have blockages. Instead, there may be reduced blood flow in the arteries.

What causes broken heart syndrome?

The definite cause of broken heart syndrome is unknown. A surge of stress hormones might be at fault, which can temporarily damage the hearts of some people. In most cases, intense physical or emotional situations cause broken heart syndrome. Some potential triggers are:

  • The death of a loved one
  • Relationship problems and divorce
  • A frightening medical diagnosis, such as cancer
  • Losing a lot of money
  • Heated arguments
  • Physical, emotional, and mental abuse
  • Facing phobias
  • Job loss and significant life changes
  • Physical stressors, including an asthma attack, a car accident, and major surgery

It is also possible for certain drugs, although rare, to cause broken heart syndrome. These medications include:

  • Venlafaxine – a treatment for depression.
  • Levothyroxine – a drug for malfunctioning thyroid glands.
  • Epinephrine – treats severe allergic reactions and asthma attacks.
  • Duloxetine – treats nerve problems in diabetics and controls depression in some people.

Are there treatments for broken heart syndrome?

At first, the symptoms of broken heart syndrome will receive the same treatment as a heart attack. Once your doctor confirms the diagnosis, he or she may treat broken heart syndrome with medicines such as:

  • Beta blockers to slow down heart rate
  • Diuretics to reduce fluid buildup
  • ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure
  • Anti-anxiety medication to manage stress

Any persistent or long-lasting chest contractions could be a sign of broken heart syndrome — or worse, a heart attack. Take the matter seriously and call 911 if you or someone you know have severe chest pains or sudden breathing difficulties.

Learn more about your heart by reading 5 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy, Relation of Stress and Heart Attack, and Hawthorn Berry for your Heart.

Total Eclipse of the Brain: How Love Affects Us Like a Drug

Being in love is not a total eclipse of the heart. Love, actually overwhelms our brains with chemicals that induce feelings of pleasure and attachment. These chemicals cause reactions throughout the body, which might help explain that giddy feeling we get when we see a loved one.

Love moves in mysterious ways—but not to science. Let’s stop the pop culture references and take a look at how love affects our mind and body.

You radiate happiness

Love may not be a drug, but it can definitely feel like one. Falling in love triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure center. The chemical plays an essential role in feeling happiness.

In one study, researchers scanned 2,500 brain images of 17 individuals who identified themselves as “in love.” Researchers discovered that participants who looked at a photo of the person they loved showed brain activity in two areas associated with dopamine: the caudate nucleus and ventral tegmental area. This phenomenon explains the “high” feeling new lovers often experience.

Your stress levels fluctuate depending on the stage of your relationship

To some, realizing a simple “crush” has flourished into “love” can be stressful. There are many uncertainties, including whether they feel the same way, the chance of rejection, and the anxiety of when to say those three big words. According to a 2004 study, the initial stages of falling in love can increase levels of cortisol—a stress hormone. However, after retesting the participants 12 to 24 months later, their cortisol levels had returned to normal.

Kissing and hugging someone you romantically love can immediately reduce stress and increase feelings of tranquil, trust, and security. Your mood will also improve because of your reward center flooding with dopamine.

Your blood pressure stabilizes

Elevated blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a life-threatening condition that increases your risk for stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. Aside from proper medication and healthy lifestyle changes, research suggests that falling in love can serve as a natural and inexpensive way to reduce blood pressure levels.

One study that examined the relationship between marriage, physical health, and longevity found that happily married couples have lower blood pressures and reduced risks for cardiovascular disease.

Like a drug, you can feel addicted to your partner

Certain drugs and medications can light up your pleasure center. Love has a similar effect and can be addictive in its own way.

Official medical classification guides do not classify love as an addiction. However, a 2017 study suggests that there is a link between addiction and love. According to the authors, love can be addictive because it is a need that can be temporarily satisfied. Conversely, love can lead to destructive behaviors if not fulfilled for prolonged periods.

Think of the person you love most or the last time you ran into someone attractive. Time may have stopped, your palms may have sweated, and chances are your heart was pounding in your chest. It’s no wonder why people thought love arose from the heart. The truth is, love is all about the brain – which, in turn, makes the rest of our body go haywire.