Happiness is the state of being happy.
hap·py adjective \ˈha-pē\
: feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.
: showing or causing feelings of pleasure and enjoyment
: pleased or glad about a particular situation, event, etc.
As of this writing, the song titled Happy by Pharrell Williams is the number 1 song on Billboard’s Hot 100 and has been for weeks. Homemade videos of people dancing to the song have been posted on YouTube from all over the world. As was reflected upon in an Oprah Winfrey interview, I think that the song and official video resonates with so many because we relate to the notion that it is our birthright to be happy. “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.”
In Nia classes, an expressive movement practice I have been committed to for the last 11 years, we have definitely clapped along. A foundational principle in Nia is a focus on the joy of movement, the antithesis of the “no pain, no gain” mentality.
“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase gives examples of the various “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says all human beings have been given by their Creator and for the protection of which they institute governments.
Yet many of us in our society aren’t experiencing happiness. Let’s explore some of the reasons why and how we might reverse that trend. Raine Saunders has gathered the information that follows for educational materials we are co-creating on Nourishing Ourselves, which will be launched this year.
Contributing Author Raine Saunders
Depression and Mood Disorders
A Time Magazine article from 2011 reports that antidepressant use has risen nearly 400% since 1988. An estimated 1 in 10 adults experiences depression, and more than 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 12 have been prescribed some type of antidepressant.
Those between the age range of 45-64 have been observed as most likely to experience depression.
As a society, why are we so depressed?
We propose that our diets are lacking in nutrient-dense foods. We consume a large quantity of processed, nutritionally devoid food products. The consumption of processed food has been observed to have profound effects on the development of depression and mood disorders.
To manage depression, allopathic recommendations tell us to avoid real fats and consume plant foods and even processed, modern fats such as margarine and vegetable oils! Reducing cholesterol depletes seratonin binding and signaling in the body. Seratonin is a critical neurotransmitter that regulates many bodily functions including behavior, learning, and memory. We assert that eating a low-fat diet, recommended by many medical professionals, can lead to a variety of chronic health issues including depression. See sources at the bottom of this article .
Some develop chronic habits of not getting enough sleep or staying up late. Some watch television or use a computer or other electronic device late at night. This causes a disruption in sleep patterns. Research suggests that those who don’t get adequate sleep or experience insomnia are in the highest risk category for depression. 
The frenetic pace of modern life exposes some of us to stress from which we find little opportunity for relief and escape. Stress causes depletion of nutrients in the body that support health.
Julia Ross, M.A., author of The Mood Cure, says that important, natural brain chemicals are used up quickly under conditions of chronic stress. Our body cannot produce these chemicals in adequate amounts without proper support, including rest and a nourishing diet. Source: The Mood Cure, page 5, a book we recommend via our Amazon affiliation.
In an article from Science Nordic on how stress can cause depression, studies with rats reveal that stress affects the brain’s ability to stay healthy. This causes shrinking of the hippocampus, a vital part of the brain. Stress impacts our short-term memory function and learning abilities which can affect our mood and behavior.
Some allopathic practitioners and other sources advise avoiding the sun. As a result, we spend more time indoors and don’t produce enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for many aspects of our health including brain development. The Vitamin D Council asserts that vitamin D receptors have been observed in various parts of the brain, and in particular, those associated with the manifestation of depression.
Seratonin reuptake inhibitors commonly known as SSRIs and other antidepressants are routinely prescribed for depression. However, we don’t recommend them as a first step solution because they don’t address the underlying cause of depression. In addition we are concerned about the following side-effects:
SSRIs (seratonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft:
- feeling agitated, shaky, or nervous
- a feeling of malaise
- digestive issues including stomach aches, diarrhea, or constipation
- low sex drive
- loss of appetite
Antidepressants including Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, and Effexor
- dry mouth
- blurry vision
- heart rhythm problems
- weight gain
- dizziness or drowsiness
- difficulty passing urine
In the interest of time we won’t mention the myriad of side-effects connected to other antidepressants.
Our recommendations to support a sense of well-being and happiness:
- Eat traditional fats such as those found in butter, lard, tallow, grassfed meats and poultry, and raw dairy foods.
- Use coconut oil, apple cider raw vinegar, and other fermented and cultured foods such as homemade sauerkraut, beet kvass, yogurt and kefir, and probiotic supplements to support digestive health. These provide additional support for mental and brain function. Read more in Raine’s Medicine Cabinet.
- In her book The Mood Cure, author Julia Ross has written extensively on the subject of diet and depression, and recommends removal of processed foods and inclusion of real, traditionally prepared foods to support mood and brain function. During his travels, Dr. Weston A. Price witnessed and wrote about the profound effect animal foods had on not only the physical but emotional and mental development of the brain and mental function. Proper bone and skeletal structure supports both physical and mental health, while deformities contribute to chronic health issues including a variety of mental disorders. 
- Get regular, moderate sun exposure
- Obtain adequate and regular sleep. Go to bed by 10 p.m.
- Engage in stress relief such as meditation, yoga, sex or other activities that promote deep relaxation
- Engage in some type of movement or exercise you enjoy such as walking, hiking, running, dancing, or bike riding
Here are foods we recommend that contain nutrients that protect against depression. These include the following nutrients in abundance – Vitamins A, D, calcium, and arachadonic acid:
- Cod liver oil (vitamins A and D)
- Butter from grass-fed animals (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
- Egg yolks from pasture-raised chickens (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
- Fats from grass-fed animals (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
- Organ meats from grass-fed animals (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
- Bone broths (calcium)
- Raw whole milk from grass-fed animals (calcium, arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
- Fish eggs (vitamins A and D)
- Small whole fish (calcium, vitamins A and D)
- Shell fish (vitamins A and D)
Alternatives to Prescription Medications
In addition to diet, here are some alternatives to prescription medications we can use to support mental health:
- Homeopathy uses homeopathic medicines, derived from natural substances such as plants and roots to trigger the body’s healing response. This method uses the principle which the same substance which causes symptoms can be used to treat those same symptoms. Source: Depression, Anxiety and Homeopathy
- Traditional Chinese Medicine uses herbs and acupuncture to address underlying imbalances in the body’s energetic organ meridian systems that can lead to depression. Source: The Case for Chinese Herbal Medicine in the Treatment of Depression
- Ayurvedic medicine addresses causes of depression through diet, herbs, oils, and an understanding of each patient’s constitution and state of imbalance by considering the doshas or bodily humors. These affect the flow of energy in the body and their impact on our lymphatic system, immunity, circulation, and other factors which control our wellness and vitality. Source: Depression, Anxiety, and Ayurveda