of the relationship sets off chemical reactions that enhance our experience
and take it to the next level," she says. "When we are healthy and our hormones are in balance, we attract and love with an enhanced experience."
She points to three stages of romantic love — lust (erotic love), attraction (passionate love) and attachment (enduring love) — that each have special hormones and chemicals that activate that experience. Your lifestyle and diet work together to harmonize and enhance these hormones, which amps up our love vibration to attract romantic love and enhance relationships with others and ourselves.
"In other words, if you want to find love you have to be love," she says.
Check out the 3 stages of love and attraction and the yummy chemicals associated with each one.
1. LUST, BABY (AKA EROTIC LOVE)
That initial love stimulus we feel is triggered by our innate biological wiring to procreate, whether or not you want kids. Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, hormones found in both men and women, give us that undeniable urge to connect sexually and physically, says Dr. Francis.
Female hormones estrogen and progesterone make us more receptive, intuitive, compassionate, emotional, sensitive, magnetic and attractive. (Ovulators... you might have noticed your estrogen peaking mid-cycle).
Testosterone jacks up our libido, and in turn, we crave that physical and sexual contact. It also makes us feel free-spirited, competitive, engaged and energetic (and yes, horny AF). "It can make us compete to connect to someone and literally chase them down! Dr. Francis says. "Spring Fever can be attributed to the sunlight stimulating testosterone levels in both men and women, making them come out for lust after a long winter of hibernation."
So if you want more lust, romance and sexual connection to a love, you gotta balance those hormones.
Here's how Dr. Francis suggest balancing estrogen and progesterone naturally:
Meditate under the moon.
Take time each night to stare at the moon for 28 days. This can help to cycle the hormones in the rhythm of a normal cycle's ebb and flows.
Bathe in flower and essential oil baths.
Open your receptivity by relaxing in a warm bath spiked with rose petals and essential oils of lavender, clary sage and geranium.
Show some motherly love to a child, pet or family member to stimulate hormones designed to help us mother and care for another being.
Stock up on phyto-estrogen foods and herbs.
These easy-to-incorporate ingredients work brilliantly in bowls, smoothies and salads: soy, flax seeds, alfalfa sprouts, buckwheat, lavender, hemp, rose and jasmine.
Add in phyto-progesterone foods and herbs.
Think wild yam, maca, vitex, clary sage and evening primrose oil.
If you're looking to enhance testosterone levels, try these tips:
Soak up the rays.
Get 20 to 30 minutes of sunshine every day.
Hit the gym.
Both cardio and strength training do the trick.
Incorporate aphrodisiac foods.
Oysters, avocados, eggs, lean meats, nuts and beans all help to boost testosterone.
Then you've got pheromones, the subtle scent hormones that attract us to lovers. Fun fact: Pheromones also attract us to partners with different immune systems and biology that would in theory enhance or better the immunity of the offspring. "Pheromone levels are affected by our sex hormone levels," she adds. "Therefore, if you have low levels of hormones due to an imbalance, the birth control pill, menopause or andropause, the pheromones that you are giving off may not be as strong." They can also make or break your attraction to someone. (That's why when you have a break up, you suddenly can't stand your ex's scent!)
Balance pheromones with these attraction-getters:
Celery • Oysters • Parsnips • Papayas • Avocado • Bananas
2. ATTRACTION (AKA PASSIONATE LOVE)
First come lust, then comes addiction. You know this phase, the one where you begin to obsess over your lover and think of them constantly. It sets off feel-good brain chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine and phenylalanine that trigger the reward pathways in our brains and make us literally high on love. That's why you feel yummy when you're with them and withdrawal when they're not around. That expression "love is blind?" That's this stage. You're giddy, euphoric, energetic with a loss of judgment, appetite and sleep. "If there is a breakup or separation there may be a deep feeling of loss, depression and fatigue from the chemicals plummeting," says Dr. Francis. "The Attraction Stage lasts about 2 to 3 years, however, some couples may maintain the attraction for life." Cheers to that.
You can thank dopamine for pleasure, satisfaction, focus and concentration, along with that feeling of being addictive.
Norepinephrine is all about focus, concentrate, engagement and connection while upping our initiative, motivation and metabolism.
To balance dopamine and norepinephrine, Dr. Francis suggests:
Exercise daily 30 to 40 minutes
Enjoy an infrared sauna
Take a cold shower
Eat tyrosine-packed foods like eggs, chicken, beef, nuts and seeds
Stretch your comfort zone with new, exciting and challenging activities
The neurotransmitter, phenylalanine, helps to make endorphins, our body's natural pain killers, and give us that euphoric, elated feeling especially when we're in that attraction phase.
To balance phenylalanine, try:Eating dark chocolate (at least 70% or higher) — we're saying it's even better when smeared over a lover but this is not dr. approved...
Adding phenylalanine foods like soy, eggs, seafood, pumpkin seeds and cheese.
Exercising at least 30 minutes per day.
Trying acupuncture and massage.
3. ATTACHMENT (AKA ENDURING LOVE)
Welcome to the deepest, most mature stage of romantic love where you'll find deep bonding and emotional intimacy. Think connection and family-like loyalty, which can be for lovers, relatives or friends. The hormones responsible for the Attachment Stage are oxytocin and vasopressin, aka bonding hormones. "These hormones make us feel connected and secure and they initiate a sense of tribe," says Dr. Francis. "Serotonin is also an important hormone in this phase. It gives us the sense of peace and well being when we are in love. It makes us feel happy and positive." Serotonin is that happy hormone that lifts us and gives us those good vibes.
Wanna up your oxytocin and vasopressin? Do this...
Hug someone you love (physical touch is the key)
Have sex (yesss, we got this one)
Hang out with friends, family (it's all about laughter)
Care for kids or pets
Book a massage or bodywork sesh
For more of that happy serotonin juju...Get 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight in nature daily.
Get your workout in — at least 30 minutes daily.
Sleep 7 to 8 hours per night.
Get a massage or acupuncture.
Eat foods high in Tryptophan like whole grains, turkey, dairy products, oatmeal, nuts, seeds, potatoes.
Listen to music that evokes a positive memory from the past.
"We can make easy lifestyle and diet changes to balance our chemistry and hormones," says Dr. Francis. "When we are balanced and regenerated, we raise our love vibration. This enhances attraction and deepens our experience of romantic love and self-love. The healthier we are, the healthier are our relationships with others and ourselves."