Chocolate, CBD & Your Endocannabinoid System
There is good news for you chocolate lovers as it relates to maintaining a state of balance. Keeping the body healthy can improve the body’s overall functions, including the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a network of cell receptors and molecules that is responsible for many different physiological and psychological processes within your body. Introducing cannabinoids to the body triggers responses that can improve memory, mood, appetite, metabolism, sleep patterns, stress regulation, and pain. Chocolate can help.
As with other bodily systems, the ECS functions optimally when the body is healthy. An increased food intake, especially of fatty foods, can over-stimulate the ECS. This leads to an increased appetite for calorically dense foods, which promotes obesity. The ECS plays a critical role in homeostasis, or the maintenance of a stable equilibrium of the body’s internal systems. Over- or undereating could offset this balance, leading to other problems in bodily systems, such as issues regulating body temperature or a weakened immune system.
Diet and exercise can build and strengthen the endocannabinoid system, while CBD products can help to further enhance the effects. Physical activity releases endocannabinoids, or cannabinoids that are produced by your own body. This explains why you may feel a sense of wellbeing, peacefulness, or a “runner’s high” after exercising. Besides an improved mental state and decreased levels of stress, consistent physical activity throughout the week can build and maintain strong muscles and bones, aid in weight loss, and increase energy levels.
Along with exercise, it is important to eat a nutritious, balanced diet to nourish your body with energy. A diet high in vegetables, good fats, lean protein, and whole grains promotes overall health. Studies show that certain foods can naturally stimulate the activity of the ECS. Essential fatty acids, chocolate, herbs, spices, and tea are great sources of healthy fats and other compounds that can enhance the ECS. Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are often found in cooking oils (sunflower oil, corn oil, or soy oil), meat, poultry, and eggs. Fish, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Intaking a 1:1 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is ideal for enhancing endocannabinoids within the body.
Image source: https://wholisticmatters.com/nutrients-supporting-the-endocannabinoid-system/
Chocolate is rich in compounds that have similar chemical structures to endocannabinoids. This allows the compounds to inhibit the breakdown of endocannabinoids, resulting in higher levels within your body. The higher the cacao content in the chocolate, the more cannabinoid-like compounds there are – aim for 70% dark chocolate or higher. Certain herbs, spices, and teas also contain compounds that can stimulate endocannabinoid receptors and raise endocannabinoid levels. The western diet also contains many foods that benefit the endocannabinoid system, such as chia seeds, walnuts, some eggs, and wine.
Taking phytocannabinoids, or naturally-occurring cannabinoids, as a supplement to the diet provides a way to more directly trigger the receptors in your body, and is attributed to several health benefits. There are hundreds of different cannabinoids that can boost the endocannabinoid system, including CBD. Ingesting alcohol and THC can overflow and subsequently depress the receptors, so abstaining from them can help maintain a healthy balance of endocannabinoids. Even something as simple as going outside and getting sunlight will increase numbers of certain endocannabinoids, but as with all things, must be done in moderation.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important in ensuring that your physiological and psychological systems function well. A cannabinoid supplement such as CBD is a great way to activate and boost your internal systems, but works optimally when you have adequate exercise and a healthy diet. By staying physically fit and eating healthy foods, you may be able to further stimulate your ECS and ensure that you are getting the best value from your cannabinoid products.