If You're Feeling Meh, You Might Need to Recharge Your Happiness Hormones

There is, quite literally, no other way I could start this story than with a quote from the classic film Legally Blonde (you know where I'm going with this): "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy."

But endorphins aren't the only hormone that can give your mood a boost—oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine all play an important role in regulating your mood as well. So if you're feeling a bit meh lately (hey, the news cycle is consistently pretty grim), you might consider hacking your system by way of your "happiness hormones." It won't make those news alerts any less terrifying, but it will help your body be able to cope with them better—and also help you generally feel happier and more fulfilled.

We'll get into specifics in a moment, but one general, major way you can boost all your happiness hormones is to improve your gut microbiome. "Hormones are synthesized, inhibited, and regulated by your gut microbiome," explains Callie Exas, MPH, MS, RDN, of The Wellthy Plate. "If your microbiome is off balance, your ability to regulate and produce these happiness hormones will be impacted." She recommends eating a diet full of healthy fiber and fermented foods and supplementing your diet with prebiotics ("like Miracle-Gro for your microbiome," she calls them) and probiotics to ensure your gut is full of good bacteria. "When your microbiome is happy, it will absorb nutrients more efficiently in order to make your happiness hormones and communicate effectively with your brain to regulate your body's hormone function," she explains.

After you look to your gut, there are specific ways you can boost each of these happiness hormones. Keep reading to see what they are.