If you're not an exercise fanatic then chances are that hearing an avid runner talk about his "runner's high" can be a real downer. True, the runner's high part sounds like great fun, but boy does it take a lot of work, unless ... you go straight for the molecule that causes runner's high, without all that silly running!
What the Heck is Runner's High Anyway?
Dedicated exercisers have described runner's high as a sensation of "floating" or "being free" or simply feeling "very happy." According to Daniel DeNoon in his article 'Is Runner's High a Cure for Depression?" this sensation is caused by phenyl ethylamine (PEA). It's a compound found in a very high concentration in chocolate (explains bingeing on chocolate, doesn't it?).
DeNoon says that PEA "is a natural stimulant produced by the body. It is related to amphetamines but without the long-lasting potentially dangerous effects." Wow, talk about a clean and legal "high." Runners have long had access to this legal high but now people not so fond of sweating can get it, too, since the cause of 'runner's high' is a natural compound.
On the flip side of the coin, studies show that depressed people tend to have low levels of PEA. This explains why exercise can have an anti-depressant action.
What's exciting about this discovery is that now people can get the mood support they need without all the grunting, sweating, and exercising. Says Hector Sabelli, MD, "If you give PEA to people with depression, about 60% show an immediate recovery--very fast, a matter of half an hour."
So where can you get some PEA for mood support when you've got the blue meanies?
Foods Rich in PEA for Mood Support
The two foods most noticeably rich in PEA are chocolate (no surprise there) and AFA blue-green algae. Author and researcher Michael Liebowitz, author of the popular 1983 book "The Chemistry of Love," stated that chocolate is loaded with PEA, which started a media flurry about the food. No doubt eating chocolate helps many people with mood, but chocolate has some unfortunate fatty side effects.
AFA blue-green algae is another rich source of PEA, and can help support one's mood without the side effects of weight gain or chocolate addiction! Some studies show that the PEA in blue-green algae is highly bioavailable, making it easy for the body to absorb and use. Plus, blue green algae comes in convenient capsule form, so you can get some mood support in just a single gulp. In short, AFA blue-green algae gives you the PEA boost without the sugar and guilt of chocolate!
There are also many forms of encapsulated PEA available on the market, however, studies show that PEA, by itself, is quickly metabolized in the body and thus doesn't reach the brain, where it can provide mood support.
So your two best options for a PEA kick in the pants are chocolate and AFA blue green algae. Go for both if you feel like it ... or choose the one that fits your diet plan best!
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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lululemonathletica/3438348387/