This article will show you natural ways to boost serotonin, the chemical responsible for elevating mood and reducing anxiety and depression.
What is serotonin?
In the neurological structure of our bodies, lie several neurotransmitters responsible for transmitting the onset or decrease of various functions in our brain and body. One such neurotransmitter is Serotonin. As a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger, Serotonin is believed by scientists to act as a mood stabilizer as research has found some association between depression and reduced levels of Serotonin.
In lay terms, serotonin relays signals between your nerve cells and is found predominantly in the digestive system, in blood platelets and throughout the central nervous system. The chemical is derived from an amino acid called tryptophan which is derived from dietary foods such as cheese, nuts and red meat. It is a deficiency in tryptophan that reduces serotonin thereby reducing your mood and increasing depression.
It needs to be emphasized that as an antidepressant, serotonin levels can only be increased in the body and brain by ingesting either of the two amino acids tryptophan and/or 5-hydroxytryptophan.
Serotonin also plays a major role in several bodily functions
- Improves mood
- Improves wound healing
- Reduces nausea
- Maintains bone health
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Controls bowel movement and function
- Stimulates sleep and controls sleep and waking. Deficiency causes sleep disorders
But!! As they say too much of a good thing is bad so it is with increased levels of serotonin over and above what your body really needs. Serotonin levels can increase because of certain medication resulting in decreased arousal and loss of libido. Now that may make any reader wonder why then the need to increase serotonin. The need to increase serotonin concerns more those persons suffering from the effects of decreased levels of the chemical and whom are patents of anxiety, panic disorders and depression.
Natural ways to boost serotonin by increasing tryptophan from food
Rather than rely on supplements and medication, adopting natural ways to boost serotonin is advisable through nutrition. Research has proved that in the case of a low tryptophan diet, serotonin levels in the brain decrease leading to conditions of anxiety and depression.
St. John’s Wort
This herb has proved its efficacy in reducing mild to moderate depression. It has been observed to work as a natural SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) by preventing the breakdown of serotonin in the brain.
Research says that protein rich eggs increase plasma levels of tryptophan. Never leave out the yolks because that’s where you’ll find the amino acid available. Egg yolk contains tryptophan, choline, tyrosine, biotin, omega 3 fatty acids and various nutrients. In fact a study at Leiden University Netherlands found how eating eggs rich in tryptophan induced feelings of kindness and generosity.
Cheese is also a good source of tryptophan. A mac and cheese made from a combo of cheddar, eggs and milk can give you a healthy dose of tryptophan
Pineapples are rich in Bromelain a protein that reduces the side effects of chemotherapy. It also helps in suppressing coughs. Bromelain is an enzyme with anti inflammatory properties . According to the journal of endocrinology, Pineapple boosts the release of serotonin and melatonin while sleeping. Serotonin produces melatonin a hormone responsible for sleep.
Soy products contain tryptophan. Soy can be substituted for protein and is a good choice for vegans and vegetarians where protein is concerned. Soy is also rich in calcium.
One can never go wrong eating salmon. As a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, salmon is rich in tryptophan. Try out this recipe to make a nice Salmon frittata. Compared to other fish, Salmon is richer in health ingredients that improve cognitive function, regulate cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.
Turkey and chicken breast
Besides being rich in tryptophan turkey and chicken breast is an excellent dietary choice for athletes and bodybuilders. Both these food items are also rich in protein and amino acids essential for protein synthesis in muscles and muscle recovery. One call easily called turkey, stuffed tryptophan.
Carbs combined with tryptophan rich foods will help increase serotonin
Tryptophan rich foods don’t really boost serotonin on its own. Carbs are your cheat sheet to boost serotonin. Combining such foods with healthy complex carbs increases serotonin. Carbs promote the release of insulin by the body which in turn boosts the absorption of tryptophan in the blood. Combine your tryptophan rich foods with a serving of carbs like oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain bread, legumes, whole grain pastas, sweet potatoes and parsnips.
Further ways to boost serotonin
There is no substitute to a doctor’s advice and your own prescribed medication; however a study report in the journal of psychiatry and neurosciences has advocated the following natural ways to boost serotonin other than drugs. The study found that hostility and negativity leads to one of the largest causes of mortality which is coronary heart disease (CHD). The study says that positive mood within normal ranges is an important predictor of health and longevity. This echoes the constitution of the WHO (World Health Organization) which says “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Exposure to bright light: a healthy dose of sunshine or time spent outdoors among greenery and a walk in the park during the day can boost serotonin.
Meditation: Research has found that self induced changes in mood can influence serotonin synthesis, Thus happiness also influences the levels of serotonin. This is why the study also contemplates the factor osf mood improved by psychotherapy could be accompanied by increase in serotonin.
Exercise: various national health services like the NHS of the UK advocate treating mild clinical depression exercise. Exercises like aerobic, cardio and yoga can do much to stimulate your metabolism and even increase your mood by de stressing and relaxing you mentally.
Positivity: As mentioned earlier, never giving in to the intensity of negativity and harboring feelings of happiness can improve mood and influence serotonin production
Increasing healthy Gut bacteria: consuming prebiotic and probiotic foods to promote healthy gut bacteria can do much in influencing serotonin levels though the association of the gut and brain. One can also resort to probiotic supplements which are relatively safe.
Such are the natural ways to boost serotonin. All of the above compiled advice is for information only and does not promote medication of any sort as that is solely the prerogative of a certified doctor. Always consult your doctor when unsure about any medical condition.